“Soul Power” (The Greatest Music Festival, 1974) and “Ronn’s “African-American” Discussion

This film dates back to 1974 (41 years ago) and in my estimation the well-being of the African-American has changed little. He/she is still fighting for survival in a very hostile and indifferent culture.

What’s most impressive about this film is seeing many of our talented entertainers in their 20s, 30s and 40s (Most, now a part of history.) and hearing them express their views and frustrations with mistreatment in America, and, extolling their ties to the African continent.

There could be a lot to discuss regarding this film: Mobutu Sese Seko, the Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman fight, Africa . . ., but that’s not my intention.

It is my observation, as much as the African-American entertainers expressed their love for Africa, they  understood that they only partially belonged there. The photographer’s camera shots, in many instances, made that point clear—take a second look. Most African-Americans are mixed with some other ethnicity. (Not so long ago, many laughingly talked about the “indian” and “good hair” part. Remember “Mom’s” Mabley?) As far as I’m aware, there is little or no open discussion in our community about this fact. The Constitution of the United States (“2/3s a man”), the shameful rapes that occurred in slavery and unrelenting racism together have given us pause—but together, they should occupy only a small part of our rich history and future. (Many of us haven’t had the Western wherewithal, a psychologist, to work us through it all!)

More than 60 years ago, my father said  “The black man is a man without a country”. I live with that thought every day. But should I hold on to it?

Many say we’ve been called this and now we want to be called that . . .. In reality, we remain estranged in a land which we’ve lived and worked in for 500 years. I’m defending the idea that it is more unifying if we call ourselves African-American. In so doing, we honor our African and American heritage. Both has gotten us to where we are today. And that sets the stage for us to unequivocally say to all: “This is my land too, African-American Lives Matter”.

For you creative people, why not have songs written about “African-Americans”? —Ronn

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