"REPRESENT!" (It's WORKING!!
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
I heard someone discussing what it can mean, to have the representation of your culture in front of you, reaching for lofty goals and achieving things beyond perceived boundaries, in order to know what is possible for yourself.
So in other words, black people didn't see ourselves adequately represented in society, and we suffered from that deprivation.
We needed more positive role models - people in whom we could see our own selves, living successfully.
I would like to add, that for all cultures to see a wider range of representation, of black folks in particular, helps everyone see the humanity in all people.
I have seen people's opinions change before my eyes.
Because I was raised, simply, to represent my culture as being a gracious and good people - amiable and eager to please. And it has always worked for me.
I've said it before... the word 'assimilation' was used in my house, back in the 1950's and 60's, with the same regularity as others might have heard things like 'eat your vegetables', and 'stop annoying your sister'.
'Blend in with society... Do what the other children are doing'.
I am driven in that direction as credo.
You have to understand. When I was a child, the only representation of black people in the media, or anywhere, was us trying not to be washed away by fire hoses, barked at by dogs, and screamed at by humans.
The desire to raise 'lynch-proof' people was palpable with my grandmother in our every day interactions.
Everything had to be straight and neat and clean and attractive.
Lest someone think less of us.
I was representing all of us.
Assimilate. It was the current term 'represent', in it's original form and meaning.
Show the white people that we are just like them.
But I digress.
As soon as George Floyd was killed, media reverted to inclusion.
The onslaught of inter-racial couples, people with giant afros, and black families 'assimilated' into society, was breath-taking.
At least it was for me.
At first it seemed as if society and the media, were trying to placate blacks and minorities, by getting us on screen.
Perhaps you noticed it as well.
I was quite amazed at how fast they could get an all African-American cast in a commercial and on the air.
I think I assumed that it was a passing fad.
But the longer it goes on, the more I am grateful for the change, and the more I can acknowledge that this is making a difference.
And here's how I know.
I had a Barack Obama moment during the Thanksgiving day parade, when I discovered the child currently playing Annie on Broadway. While I see now that 12-year-old Celina Smith may not be the first black girl to play the role, I still cried inside, happy and proud to see her there.
Crying, happy, and proud, would understate how I reacted to the election of the first black president.
So my point is... Don't Stop. I live every day to see my culture move in the right direction.
I am 'tears of joy' grateful, for anything we can do, to positively impact little black and brown people, to become big and successful...PEOPLE!