by S.A. Prince
Subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive this and like content via e-mail.
I was riding on public transportation the other day and in walks a black man with an R.I.P shirt on. I don’t know when it became a fad to put the faces of dead ones on t-shirts, but I assume it emerged at the same that that people decided to put faces of dead people on billboards. Anyways, the little boy on his shirt was named John, God rest his soul. But, it wasn’t spelled like how John should be spelled. His name was Ja’ohn. Yes, you saw that right, Ja’ohn.
What possesses black people to do this to their children? Why do they name them these outlandish names that do not fit into society’s norms? Don’t they realize that they are affecting their children’s future ability to procure employment? Sure, you’d hope that an employer wouldn’t discriminate against names like Ja’ohn, Shaniqua, Shanque, or Tariq, but who are you trying to fool? As soon as a resume comes across with one of the aforementioned names or the like, that resume is immediately flagged.
So, I questioned myself as to why black people indulge in this and other behavior that further estranges them from the normalcy culture. What’s wrong with John, Peter, or Joe, besides the fact that these names lack “edginess?” Is it a rebellion of sorts, black people seeking out their identity in a culture that took theirs and thrust upon them a new one? That identity or lack thereof, an identity that resembles more of a silhouette as oppose to a clearly defined entity, is that which has cultivated a teenage-like bulwark again the accepted contemporary culture of America.
Out of the rebellion life sprung up through the cracks, some flowers and some weeds, some embraced and others snatched out by the root. The weeds, of course being subjective depending on one’s perspective consists of the shunned, like the Black Panther Party. In the flowers we find the Harlem Renaissance and Black Wall Street, subjectively heralded movements. I say subjectively, because judgement is a personal thing, relegated to each individual who must till their own garden.
But let’s not end there. Let’s think about this further, because we can and should go further. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. This is where white Americans proclaimed their independence from Britain, and was 99 years after the first colony was founded in Jamestown, Virginia. This century difference takes us from whites’ infant stage to their teenage rebellious stage. In 1607 colonial whites were dependent on their homelands from afar. By 1776 though, colonial whites were well into their rebellious stage, out of which birth a new era, an era that brought forth the America we know today.
Now, let’s look at black Americans. For the longest time blacks weren’t even considered a full person, not in America. Blacks were property, and it wasn’t until Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that black people were no longer property. Therefore, the infant stage for blacks began in 1865. Fast-forward 99 years along the black American timeline, just like we did for the whites, and we’ll call that the beginning of the black’s teenage rebellious stage.
That year was 1964. What happened in 1964? The Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act ended segregation in public places and it also banned employment discrimination. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law, and eventually congress expanded the Civil Rights Act to further legislate equality.
This is getting weird, right?
Now, let’s say that the white people’s teenage rebellious stage ended in 1945, specifically at the close of World War II. That’s when we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’d say that’s something a foolhardy young adult would do. So, their teenage rebellious stage lasted from 1776 to 1945. That 169 years.
If you tack on that 169 year stage beginning at 1965, you’ll see that black’s teenage rebellious stage will end in the year 2134 (channeling my inner Nostradamus). That’s 118 years from now. I wonder what that moment would be like. What will be the black American’s defining moment if this theory holds true? How far will we have come with race relations by then? Will the entire country be brown, as oppose to black and white? The questions are endless, and that thought is as equally exhilarating as it is haunting.