Denmark Vesey's Plantation

A place to discuss whatever comes to mind.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

American Dream a Lie????

The American Dream is a lie.

The American Dream, for many, promises an opportunity to blend into a melting pot that will no longer focus on race, creed or color, but will instead see only patriotism and red, white and blue.

But that dream is a lie.

That dream is a lie and any promise of melting is nothing more than an empty promise to Black people, who have never melted into the pot, sticking out sorely—some by choice and some by the nation’s force of will.

The melting pot and it’s tool of implementation, integration, can never work, because they require for Blacks that we give up the things about us that make us who we really are.

And, even though some of us have willingly given up portions of our soul and even offered up our very culture to be assimilated, there are too many of us who refuse to integrate into something that demands that we become less once joined to the whole.

In television’s Star Trek, The Borg is a population that is promulgated by assimilation of other races into it’s collective, which is then defined by the assimilated. When assimilated, the people are no longer individuals, and only the most useful portions of their culture are retained for use by the collective.

But America is only Borg-like for the African descendants. It’s other assimilants(sp) are allowed to maintain a connection to and pride in what they were before assimilation into the pot. They melt willingly, knowing that they will be greater once joined. They still pay homage to their ancestor’s land and many even speak their native language. But African descendants are asked to sever their connection to Africa in favor of America, and it is demanded that even slavery be forgotten and no longer discussed.

Yes, a powerful tool of the assimilation process is the erasure of history from the memory of many Black Americans.

There are Blacks in America today who can remember the look and smell of “strange fruit” hung from trees and burned. There are Blacks who can remember being sent to the back of the bus or turned away from the lunch counter and there are Blacks in America who can remember. There are Blacks younger than fifty who can remember “Whites Only” signs and there are even a few still alive who are children of slaves.

Yet, it is demanded that we become something new, but less than what we once were, by erasing those memories, or at least ceasing discussions of those memories.

For the African in America, assimilation is a dicey proposition, because popular culture in America can not exist without the portion of Blacks who can not assimilate, and therefore, out of necessity, create a counterculture that eventually becomes sexy and therefore appropriated and swallowed whole by the nation. In fact, a great portion of America’s popular culture is defined by denying that racism exists and the pretense that assimilation occurs evenly for us all.

But even for the confused and silly Negroes who willingly abandon all things Black, there is no true assimilation. There are and have been Negroes who have prayed and worked so hard for assimilation that their one true desire was to become so indistinguishable a part of the dominant culture that there would be no separating them from whites upon a cursory examination. But because racism has been such an integral portion of the stew in the melting pot, even those sad creatures eventually stand out and in many cases, are dis-assimilated.

Take glaring examples such as OJ Simpson and Michael Jackson, who did everything in their power to assimilate, yet still found rejection from complete melting when trying to be as white as possible by loving white people, marrying white people and even disliking and/or rejecting Black people, which is what the racism inherent in America dictates. Both were dis-assimilated, and now spend their lives trying to force themselves back into the collective.

And even in the more quiet assimilated such as Clarence Thomas and James Earl Jones, who quietly married white women and rejected Black people, assimilation became cruel and unusual.
Thomas, in willingly assimilating, gave up everything Black and even turned on his own sister for still being what America created and yet despised–poor and Black. Yet, he still raised the harbinger of racism when facing the fight of his life to become a Supreme Court Justice. Even when rising to the top of his game, he could not avoid the unmelting issue of race. He temporarily dis-assimilated himself and was quickly re-assimilated.

And poor confused Jones, who spent his entire lifetime as an actor, taking advantage of the divergent Negro sensibilities, took the opportunity to tell the media that there really was no Black culture after all. Since culture was shaped by language, he claimed, our culture was therefore neither African nor Black and he said he felt sorry for anyone who believed otherwise.

How sad did he appear at the end of a brilliant career based upon a culture that he now claims does not exist? At the top of his game, he raised the question of race himself, in an attempt to distance himself from the very thing which spawned his success.

The funkiest conundrum is witnessed in the quest by whites to embrace and appropriate all things hip and cool about Black culture, while silly Negroes seek to distance themselves from it, offering to embrace white America’s culture and values, praying to become so indistinguishable from them that they can live in a peace and harmony that was never designed for the sons and daughters of Africa in America.

But yet they try arduously.

Their work is witnessed in the blaming of poor Blacks for their condition as impoverished and oppressed as though they have the singular power and desire to place themselves in the worst possible position in this nation.

And assimilation is not an easy venture. Nor was it during the fifties and sixties, when James Baldwin was in France discussing the issue with African descendants from around the globe.

“It was not a question, on the one hand, of simply being swallowed up, of disappearing in the maw of Western culture,” said Baldwin. “Nor was it, on the other hand, a question of rejecting assimilation in order to be isolated within African culture. Neither was it a question of deciding which African values were to be retained and which European values were to be adopted. Life was not that simple.”

The true and perfect goal for the African the world over, should be to assimilate into a world African culture that could sustain us and even propel us to the forefront of the world, forcing all other cultures to come to us in earnest for that which they now appropriate by force or by de facto societal standards.

At that point, we would no longer be held hostage by a need to fit into the white world, but by a need to define our own world even if that definition is the universal impetus to no longer be controlled in any way by white culture or white people.

But sadly, some of us are so weak in the mind that resistance is futile.

Darryl James is an award-winning author and is now a filmmaker. His first mini-movie, “Crack,” will be released in March of this year. James’ latest book, “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” is the basis of his lectures and seminars. Previous installments of this column can now be viewed at James can be reached at


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