The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

by Cinque Brown

This essay was inspired by the movie Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored. Upon watching it, I realized that many things have changed since the early 1900's but there are many things that have stayed the same. This is true even up until the present time, although things may appear different on the surface. However our spiraling situation should cause us to examine the word "progress".

Aspiring Los Angeles writer Jamal Sharif brings up a interesting thought. Sharif says "imagine that EVERYTHING you had was taken away from you ...and then you got it ALL back. Imagine how happy you would be." Malcolm X makes a even more political analogy when he poses the question "if you are standing in line and a man comes up and sticks a knife in your side and it goes six inches deep, you scream in pain and then the man takes the knife out three inches, relieving some of the pain, have you made progress?"

I have been told Yes, countless times. I will also say,"NO" countless times. From my perspective this is not progress but you have the right to disagree. How much progress have we made in the African- American community? This is a very subjective question, that can be answered objectively. It simply requires you defining the word progress. The outcome of your answer usually depends on your vision for your community.

I can think about a lot of things that seem like they are "oldhat" but the hat is actually the same. The style of the hat is just different. Take for example the days of "old", do you remember ......

.................... Shotgun Weddings.
Remember when we used to pick cotton.
Remember when we used to be afraid of the Klu Klux Klan.
Remember when we used to think Jesus was white.
Remember when we used to sit at the back of the bus.
Remember when Blaxploitation films were just films.
Remember when white folks invented the NAACP for us.
Remember when we used to apologize for telling the truth.
Remember when Black men thought that they were smarter than Black women.
Remember when we used to think that Africa was primitive.
Remember when we thought that band aids were "flesh colored".
Remember when we thought Black schools were inferior.
Remember when we used to do business with each other.
Remember when we brought into the notion that drinking and driving was cool.
Remember when we thought that having lighter skin babies would solve our problem.
Remember when rap music was original.
Remember when we used to apologize for telling the truth.
Remember when getting a good education meant you were acting white.
Remember when we could control our children.
Remember when " separate but equal" was the idealogy of bigots.

I list these twenty items in hopes that you will give history a little bit more respect. Some are listed in jest and others because I can't believe that they are still in existence. Some are totally defunct now and others have evolved into more sophisticated realities.

It is good to keep a record of "things past", so that we can create a realistic vision for the future. Famed Historian Dr.John Henrik Clarke says "you need a watch to tell you what time it is? You need History for the same thing." Are you annoyed at me for listing some of the ideas that you still cherish, as ancient or defunct?

If the answer is yes, then the title of this essay is correct, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

P.S. We remember things, but we seldom remember things "as they were".

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same. by Cinque Brown

© Copyright 1997. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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