I ,Too, Sing America – The Good Ole Days

I too sing America

I looked in the mirror this morning and noticed that my nose is still broad, my lips are thick, and my skin is still brown (and about to get positively black now that the heat has returned to Georgia); I was thinking about having a nickel for every time I hear someone wishing for the good old days and returning our country to what our forefathers dreamed of , or some such.  I remember the good old days just fine thank you and I like our present days much mo’ better, imperfect as they may be.

I don’t want my kids or my grandkids to be afraid to even drive through certain neighborhoods because they could be mistaken for black people who had come there to start trouble.  When my husband was on tour with El Pus they stayed in some really nice hotels – back in the good old days they would have had to stay at people’s houses or sleep in the car just because they were “colored” .

Back in the old country,  I  lived in a town I lived in a town where bauxite was mined for the Reynolds company. Their executives were all southern whites ( I assume) and they lived on “the hill” where black people could not go unless they were housekeepers, gardeners etc. If a piece of fruit fell on the ground and you picked it up you would be accused of stealing and jailed. When they shopped at the town’s only grocery store, the local “coloreds” were not allowed to shop that day (at least they were nice enough to designate a day for this).  They were OK with us dying in the mines and getting mangled by the equipment though (worker’s comp, disability, pension – all that socialist claptrap, not here man).

When our forefathers wrote the Constitution the certainly weren’t thinking about the rights and freedoms of my husband’s ancestors – neither Cherokee nor African. As a matter of fact, they weren’t thinking about their slaves at all, after all slaves weren’t actually human or anything like that. Giving consideration to slaves would have been like writing provisions into the Constitution for their horses! That would have been Ridiculous, right?

Back in the good old days I most certainly would not have moved TO the South FROM the North. That would have been something like suicide or genocide or some kinda ‘cide.  But don’t get me wrong, the North wasn’t always no crystal stair either. My Mom wanted us to have a house so she moved us to East Flatbush – 3rd Black family in the neighborhood. I heard the word jigaboo more than once, and not in a nice way either (is there a nice way to call someone a jigaboo?) We couldn’t always go play at the neighborhood park, and I remember cowering with Dianne and Cathy in her foyer because Big Rocco and Little Rocco were coming down the street and they would have beat my ass for being Black and beat her and Cathy’s asses for hanging out with ‘niggers’.

What I know is that the world is not now, nor has it ever been, perfect. But it is moving towards perfection every day and in every way. When we try to hold on to the past or roll it back like Walmart rolls back prices, we are actually retarding the progress of the entire world.

So I’m asking you nicely to quit throwing all those prayers out there for a return to “the country of our forefathers”, that is of course unless….OH, I see.

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

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7 thoughts on “I ,Too, Sing America – The Good Ole Days

  1. Oh, the good old days, when kids died from things like measles and were paralyzed by polio, when there was still such thing as smallpox.

    When a woman’s career options were secretary, nurse, or school teacher, but only until she got married and took up her “real” career of stay-at-home mother. Back in the good old days, watching soaps all day while the kids were at school was much more fulfilling than anything you could be possibly be doing outside the home.

    It wasn’t that long ago when girls that showed an interest in computer programming were shoved in secretarial typing and shorthand courses, instead of programming and algebra.

    Back in the good old days, divorce was not an option for a respectable woman. It was far better to be beaten to death by a violent drunk than be considered the town tramp, just for getting away from him.

    Back in the good old days, we blamed rape victims for the crimes committed against them. They must have been asking for it, wearing the wrong clothes, walking in the wrong neighborhood, said or done something to mislead the guy into thinking they wanted it. Victims of rape were treated like they were prostitutes.

    Back in the good old days educational equality meant redrawing the district zone line a few blocks farther north. It was far better to send a few of the poorer white kids to the black school to get an inferior education than allow any of the blacks to go to the better all white school up on the hill.

    Back in the good old days, suffering from anxiety or depression might have meant spending the rest of your life in an institution.

    And if you were a female with an opinion, it may have meant being slapped with the mental illness label of “hysterical”, and thrown in an institution where the official treatment for such a condition was to be mechanically molested until you conformed to someone else’s idea of what an agreeable woman was supposed to be.

    Back in the good old days the law dictated who you could love and how you could love them. It was against the law to love who you wanted, if it meant loving someone the same gender or of a different race. And even if your partner was of the correct gender and race and you were married, the law was still up in your private bedroom business, telling you which sexual positions were and were not allowed.

    Nope, I am with you. I don’t want those good old days, either.

  2. Hello app103, thanks for stopping by, I started to say all that but would have ended up writing a book instead of a blog post, LOL. But I am with you…

  3. Denise, it’s interesting. As a therapist, I play a game with kids called the Ungame. It’s a series of questions to help kids and parents communicate. One of the questions is, “If you could have lived during any other period in history, what period would you have wanted to live in?” And I always think to myself, I can’t think of any. I like living in the here and now. And I hear you! Things were definitely very wrong in terms of the sins committed against many ethnic groups in our history.

  4. A wonderful post Denise. It’s easy to take my life for granted but you have inspired me to think a little deeper. Thank you.

  5. My neighbor and I just happened to be watching a movie similar to Gone with the Wind and I was shocked when she exclaimed, “Oh, how I’d love to have lived back there, when EVERYTHING was peaceful.” I was tempted to ask her what drug she was on, but I didn’t feel like fighting or being a teacher that day. She just got one of my side-eye looks, which meant, “You’re kidding, right?” Great post.

  6. Thanks Dawn. Jacqueline you know I always loved the movies from the 30s and 40s – the clothes, the glamour etc. Then one day I realized that if i did live back then, I would probably be the maid!

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