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From the Archives: November 1990
I REMEMBER one particularly troubling occasion at I.S. 61, Leonardo da Vinci Intermediate School in Queens. I was in sixth grade, class 6C, an SP (special progress) class. One day, midway through the school year, the assistant principal walked into my homeroom class and told me that I was being transferred into 6N. ... When you are 10 years old and in the third-ranked class in the sixth grade, to be told suddenly in front of your classmates that you are being transferred into the 14th-ranked class is embarrassing. In the few seconds it took for my mind to absorb this bad news and the shock of it, the opinion of my classmates of me changed from “peer” (meaning somewhat smart) to “dumb.”
Whose America is It?
WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? And how are we going to get there? We can no longer answer these questions. Indeed, we have stopped asking them. But just as the future of blacks seemed to be in peril when integration was introduced decades ago, our future as a viable racial and ethnic group in this country will be greatly diminished unless a new model for racial and cultural development is established.
In Jesus' Name
Azusa Christian Community reclaims the poor and dispossessed in Boston
The Underdeveloped Afro-Asian Connection
Mississippi Masala is neither great nor completely bad. It sort of trundles along at a nice, comfortable, and familiar pace. And that's the problem with Mississippi Masala. The viewer has been down this road before. There is a lot going on in this film: love, lust, broken taboos, humor, and poignancy. Unfortunately, none of these themes are developed to any reasonable or believable extent.
Mississippi Masala is a love story between Demetrius (Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington), a young black man born, raised, and tired of Greenwood, Mississippi, and Mina (newcomer Sarita Choudhury), a younger Indian woman whose family lives and works in a hotel run by an extended family of Indians. They meet quite by accident, fall in lust, and ostensibly in love, break all the cultural and regional taboos, and run away together to parts unknown to do whatever they are going to do (the film doesn't say).
If you haven't guessed it already, I was not impressed with this movie. At least I was not impressed with the young Afro-Asian lovers. The Afro-American aspects of the film--relationships among Demetrius' family, Southern black ways of being, etc.--didn't move me because I know them, lived them, and have seen them before on film. But what did intrigue me was the relationship between Mina's father Jay (Roshan Seth) and his homeland, Uganda.
Jay is an Indian, but only because his parents were Indian. He was born, raised, and educated in Uganda. His closest friend, Okelo, is a black African. Jay has built a reputation as a lawyer defending blacks throughout the country. He and his wife, Kinnu, who is Indian, and a very young Mina are "living large" in Kampala among the "natives." But that comes to an abrupt halt in 1972 when now long-deposed dictator Idi Amin comes to power and decrees that all Indians living in Uganda must leave within 90 days.
Resurrecting Malcolm X
Malcom X before the politics
An Opportunity In Crisis
Black leadership and the New World Order
The Shifting Racial Paradigm
David Duke in Washington
Out of Touch at the Black Caucus
Why I felt guilty at the CBC
With Liberty and Education for All
A changing America call for cultural inclusion in the classroom
Whose America is it?
See to it that no one falls away from God; that no bitter root springs up through which many may become defiled; that there be among you no fornicator or godless person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a meal. You know that afterward he wanted to inherit his father's blessings, but was rejected because he had no opportunity to alter his choice, even though he sought the blessing with tears. —Hebrews 12:15-17
TODAY'S YOUNG GENERATION OF African Americans is inthe midst of a spiritual crisis. I am referring specifically to those black women and men who, like me, were born in the mid-to-late 1960s and came of age during the '80s under the Reagan administration. The promise of integration, the freedom for blacks to assimilate into white society, was gained at the expense of our cultural birthright; that sense of community and morality that sustained our elders through thick and thin. Consequently, black America, at one time the moral conscience of the nation, now finds itself to be a reflection of this society's most base values.
The concept of integration is, ultimately, a spiritual issue for black America. Not a political issue. Not a social issue. Not an economic issue. This is not to say that there aren't political, social, and economic ramifications for blacks in our daily existence in white America. But blacks' involvement in these three areas can only be edifying to ourselves, and to this nation, when our spiritual and moral vision is clear.
And it used to be. Unlike the generation of blacks who reached maturity before, and during, the early '70s, my generation has no memory of credible black leaders, such as Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr. Nor do we have a relationship with those indigenous institutions, such as the black church, that developed as a consequence of racism and segregation. The debilitating effects of racism and segregation notwithstanding, blacks had been able to instill a sense of self and community. But the practice of integration created the illusion of equality with the wider culture, effectively wresting control of the black freedom movement by holding it hostage to federal good will and weakening or destroying those institutions that influenced blacks' worldview.
Crimes of Punishment
At the door to reform the criminal justice system
Education: The Basics of Race and Power
Moving into the 1990s, we must protect education for all
The Politics of Race
The hope and peril in politics for people of color
When Any Black Will Do
Yusef Hawkins was only 16 years old when he died. Like so many others before him, he died a victim of a reality beyond his control: racial violence.
Tragedy in China
It seemed too easy.
David Duke's Short Journey from KKK to GOP
David Duke's election to the Louisiana State Legislature should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Botha's Smokescreen of Reform
South Africa is once again a focus of the world's attention.
Women's Status Examined
The world is still facing a major problem with women's equality.