By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

I get my Post-Integration Blues,

everytime I am reminded

Like last month when I said to you,

son, Martin Luther King’s

birthday’s is coming up

and we’re going to do something

special like attend a memorial services.

You looked at me with total disdain

and said,

“Dad, that’s the only Day I’ll get to

sleep late”.

When you say things like that,

I take it personally.

I know that I shouldn’t, but I hurt.

I take it as a rejection

of all that my generation of Blacks

fought for,

yet I know that is not how

you intended it.

Although you are young

I want you to know

What racism is all about.

So that when you see it,

you will fight against it.

My son, if you knew

the pain and suffering

my generation had to endure

I will not have to tell you

to pick up a placard

in order to march at the

South African Embassy.

Remember!

You told me just recently,

“Just because we don’t march

doesn’t mean we don’t know

it’s Dr. King’s birthday.”

Still, I hurt, and wonder:

What happened to my little boy

who was so concern about

starving children

he saw on TV

that he said to me

“Dad, how can I share with them

some of my meal?”

Son, you see we come from a generation of marchers

And protesters.

Therefore, we do not understand inaction.

In fact, it frightens us.

We do not trust it.

Your generation might think

our concern is PARANOID;

we understand.

It is because

your generation has not seen

what we went through.

at our segregated schools

everything-buses, books, desks—

were all hand-me-downs

from White school.

On cold days we wore our coats in class

because the heat didn’t always work.

The White children passed us

in their new buses,

on their way to their new schools.

You have never known such.

You ride a shiny school bus to

a nine-year old school that is

thoroughly integrated.

For instance, you watch music videos for hours

at a time

and seem pleased at what you see.

When I look at them,

what I notice is that the Black women

who are featured as lovers

are light-skinned Black women

with long,

straight hair-

women who look like

they’re White.

My generation watched television shows

that seldom showed Blacks.

We fought hard to get Blacks on television;

we fought hard to get all shades

of Black people shown:

DARK CHOCOLATE

SAFFRON

CINNAMON

BLUE-BLACK

and

GINGER.

I don’t see these colors in your videos-

certainly not the ones

meant to be physically attractive.

What bothers me is that you don’t

seem to miss the shades of color.

To me,

to not miss them,

is in a way,

to not act Black.

It is like returning to the days

when only Lena Horne,

with her light skin and narrow nose,

was considered

a beautiful Black woman-

by Blacks and Whites.

When women like Cicely Tyson,

your grandmother

and

your great-grandmother,

with their ebony skin

and wide noses,

were considered

UGLY

because their features

were different from those of White women.

To not accept all of the shades of

BLACK BEAUTY

is one step from

“acting White.”

While music and marching

and television seem insignificant,

they are not.

It is the tiny threads of life

that weave a whole history of people.

As far as I am concerned

We are dealing with the continued

Existence of Black people.

I want you to know this

Without knowing the pain.

I wish I could push history

into your consciousness

simply by pressing

the palm of my hand

against your chest.

Maybe my words aren’t just flying

Around your head.

You have caught some of what

I’ve been saying.

Anyway, it’s not ONLY you

who triggers my blues,

but a lot of Black children.

I am torn apart when I see

many young Black children

take for granted

what my generation had

struggle for-

for many years.

Whenever I suffer from

my Post-Integration Blues

it gives me strength

to remind you not to live

on the razor’s edge

as my generation did

in the South

when the couldn’t

enter certain doors

drink from certain water fountains

or eat a meal sitting down

at any restaurant.

I’m afraid if you haven’t

lived on the razor’s edge

you forget you can bleed

Therefore, from time to time

we need to remind you

of what this country

could easily return to

UNLESS

we all fight daily

remember our history

and keep the DREAM

ALIVE…

Adapted from Ms. Patrice Gaines-Carter’s Article in the EBONY of September, 1985 – “Is My ‘Post-Integration’ Daughter Black Enough?

Copyright © February 11, 1988 Siahyonkron Nyanseor

1988: From Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s Archive

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