A few weeks ago, I randomly started reading books and watching movies that show the struggles of Black people in America, from the end of the Civil War up until the Civil Rights Movement. Earlier this week, I finished James Weldon Johnson's "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man." Judging from the notes written in the book, it seems the last time I read this book was while I was in high school.
Though the book was published in 1912, it seemed like what was going on in the book is what is going on in America today. There were two quotes that stuck out to me in the book on which I wanted to write:
"I noticed that among this class of colored men the word 'nigger' was freely used in about the same sense as the word 'fellow,' and sometimes as a term of almost endearment; but I soon learned that is use was positively and absolutely prohibited to white men."
That word is still a term of endearment for those of us who still use it. The only difference, it seems, is that we say "Nigga," instead of "Nigger."
"I once heard a colored man sum it up in these words, 'It's no disgrace to be black, but it's often very inconvenient.'"
With all the injustices Blacks have been incurring recently, I feel like this quote applies today, just like it did 103 years ago when this book was published. I'm proud to be Black. But I do know that because of my complexion, I could get hurt or, worse, killed because I stood up for myself against an officer (black or white) who overstepped his or her boundary. I know that because of my complexion, I am seen as a threat more than someone who lacks melanin.
We've all heard the quote "The only thing constant is change." I think that quote could easily be changed to "The only things constant are change...and the struggles of a Black person in America."
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