Born Black: The Pride and the Pain
Author: H.D. Armstrong

Chapter 5




     Equations are used in chemistry to illustrate the changes that occur when two or more elements are introduced to each other. Thus, a chemical reaction is the result. For instance, when glycerin is combined with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids, an explosive liquid is produced. The process of a chemical reaction is similar to the interaction between people. The components of events, places, people, ideas and time form the structure of social experience. There are numerous possible outcomes, but whatever the result, there is one invariable aspect-- change. For example, when two people meet for the first time, there are several possible outcomes:

1. They could become friends.

2. They could become enemies.

3. They could become married.

4. They could become acquaintances with the potential of becoming friends, 

     enemies or married.


Regardless of the path they choose to take, their lives will be forever changed. Now, let’s revisit our hypothetical question from the previous chapter. There’s a society of people, all of the same ethnic origin. Their society is based on the foundation of freedom, liberty and justice for all. In addition, one of their basic beliefs is their ethnic superiority over any and all other races. Now, what would happen if they introduced a different race of people into their society and subjugated them? The answer is simple. That society would eventually implode. The concepts of slavery and freedom can no more exist in the same physical realm than matter and anti-matter. Let’s analyze this scenario in real life. Theoretically, when Africans were brought to America, it was the beginning of a chemical reaction. The process began with the artificial introduction of two distinct cultures. The elements of racism, hatred, subjugation and rebellion were added to the mixture. In a chemical reaction, changes occur to one or more of the original elements; thus, a new element is produced. Over the years, the changes that have occurred between Black Americans and White Americans have been subtle but consistent. In that respect, this entire process has been a perpetual reaction. During slavery, many of the slaves had hoped to return to Africa, but that hope diminished with every new generation. There was a tremendous conflict between the concept of white supremacy and the principles of freedom and liberty for all. Most whites supported slavery, but some opposed it. This dissension was a catalyst for the inevitable civil war, resulting in the death of thousands. In time, blacks began to adapt to the customs of the American way of life. Basically, Africans were deceptively transformed into Americans. After slavery was abolished, the Ku Klux Klan was created to uphold white supremacy through murder and intimidation. The KKK intensified the amount of hatred and bigotry that already existed.

Once slavery was abolished, an extraordinary twist of fate ensued. A race of people who were stolen from their homeland and forced into slavery, were now entitled to the same rights and privileges as those that had enslaved them. However, a nation that held freedom, liberty and justice in the highest regard, consistently, neglected to enforce equal rights for blacks. Thus, the civil rights movement was born. The tension created from boycotts, riots and protest marches led to a series of important social changes, such as, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Certainly, I support any action that benefits African Americans. However, it is possible that the civil rights movement was a mistake. In the 1960’s, there was a resurgence of black consciousness with chants of “Black power!” and “Back to Africa!”  Briefly, there was a resurgence of black unification, but with the enforcement of civil rights and the desegregation of schools, African Americans began living better. They were living, working and studying alongside whites. Eventually, the “Back to Africa” movement became obsolete, as African Americans were pulled deeper into the mainstream of American life. The stronghold of integration led to interracial dating and marriage. The result of this was inevitable-- biracial offspring, which we will discuss later on in this chapter. In spite of these new changes, there was still racial hostility and discrimination. Economic repression and a lack of self-worth were among the many new elements that enticed African Americans into welfare, crime, gangs, drugs and prostitution. It is apparent that the perpetual reaction produced as a result of slavery, has entrenched African Americans into a new kind of slavery. Furthermore, this trench becomes deeper with every generation.


     Let’s summarize the text up to this point. We’ve discussed the image of “true” freedom versus a new kind of slavery. We’ve discussed the rich heritage that our African ancestors enjoyed versus the struggle to survive that generations of African Americans have endured. We’ve discussed integration, and how despite its intent to bring us closer together, it deceptively stretched us farther apart. We’ve discussed how Black America currently exists in a state of detachment. So, we’ve dealt with both the past and the present. Now, it’s time to address the future. Hamlet, from William Shakespeare’s play, was faced with a similar dilemma. “To be, or not to be . . .”  What will be our fate? What is our destiny? Shall we allow a once proud race to wither away into obscurity, like our Native American friends? Shall we suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Shall we take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them? Shall we fall asleep and wake up in an undiscovered country-- the future, where African Americans no longer exist?

All right, enough of this over-indulgence in hypothetical, theoretical, philosophical psychobabble. Let’s get down to grits and gravy. We are well beyond the 20th century, and Black America is stagnant, complacent, lethargic and worst of all, divided. We are imprisoned by the bars around us and the barriers within us. The situation is destined to get worse. If fact, I predict that in fifteen years African Americans will suffer the same fate as Native Americans. We will become as obsolete as 8-track tape players. The term “African American” itself will cease to exist, because the interracial couple trend will continue to increase and out of fairness to both parents, the offspring will refuse to classify themselves as African American. Instead, they are more likely to choose any of the following terms: mixed, biracial, multi-racial, other. In addition to the terminology, the ultimate identifying feature of African Americans will fade away into non-existence. Dark skin, the badge of honor for a once proud civilization, will cease to exist in American society.

In the hopes that there will be a resolve to prevent the destruction of black civilization in America, I offer two possible resolutions:  1. Emigration. 2. Reunification.

The issue of repatriation (emigration) has been brought up previously, as a possible course of action for African Americans. In 1787, Prince Hall, a Boston minister petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature for help in returning poor Blacks to their African homeland.

In 1815, Paul Cuffe, a merchant and shipbuilder set sail for West Africa in one of his ships. Once there, Paul, accompanied by forty Black Americans founded a settlement at his own expense.

In 1861, Dr. Martin R. Delany presented the idea of emigration. Originally, he was in favor of blacks remaining in the U.S. and fighting for civil rights. However, he too, came to realize the futility of that fight.

In the 1920’s, the idea of going “back to Africa” resurfaced with Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey believed that the disunity and lack of pride among blacks could not counteract the forces of white supremacy. He concluded that the ultimate solution was returning to Africa.

In 1787, British authorities . . . Yeah, yeah, I know. This is an idea whose time has come and gone. Black Americans have become much too acclimated to the American way of life. Let’s face it; most of us wouldn’t last five minutes in Africa. So, before we get too involved in this nonsense, let’s explore a more viable option.

     Look at your hands. Now, imagine your hands without the four fingers and thumb. What you’re left with is the base of a tool, without the appendages necessary to make it a functional tool. This is the state of Black America. We are a hand without fingers-- a useless tool. As individuals (fingers), we have the capacity to achieve many things. History is replete with examples of African Americans that have conceived, believed and achieved success. However, without the connection to the base, there is no enhancement to the central core; thus, there is no progress for the greater good of the race. Individual accomplishments are uplifting and tremendously inspirational. They are prideful examples of what we can accomplish when we set our minds and bodies to the task at hand. Still, without the connection to the base, there is very little value or strength added to the whole race. Try knocking on a door with just one of your fingers. At the risk of breaking your finger, you can manage a reasonably effective sound. Now, bring your fingers together, form a fist, and then, try knocking on the door, again. Notice the difference? There’s a louder noise, a greater impact and a stronger force. Why? Because the fingers, joined at the base, form a fist, which is mightier than one single finger. Once, again, examine your hands. Notice how the fingers work in conjunction with each other, to reach, point, hold, grab and wave, to form a fist, signs and symbols. This is possible, because they are connected to the base. So, how do we bring the individual Black American back to the base? How do we bring the horses back to the wagon?    

Sadly and painfully, many African Americans scoff at the mere mention of the word, “Unity”. Nonetheless, everything that we‘ve talked about in this text boils down to that very thing which we have mocked, and in most cases, ignored all together. So, let’s discuss unity, or to use a more precise term-- reunification. Let’s begin by defining unity, and perhaps, through a practical examination, we can determine why so many people are afraid of it. The following is taken from The New Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1989 Edition:  Unity - 1: the quality or state of being one. 2: a definite quantity or combination of quantities taken as one. 3: Concord, accord, harmony. 4: Continuity without change; of purpose. 5: reference of all the ports of a literary or artistic composition to a single main idea. 6: totality of related parts. Synonyms: solidarity, union, integrity.

As I mentioned earlier, the central core represents the needs, values, ideas, soul, culture and heritage of a people. The individuals should carry the essence of their core with them, in their everyday lives. It should emanate from their spirit. It should be exhibited in their speech and by their actions. We know that Black America is in a state of detachment. We also, know that unity implies a state of being, combined in accordance as one. For reunification to work, we must rediscover the common thread that binds us together. There are three key factors in executing a plan of reunification:  Education, Re-declaration and Self-sacrifice.






Knowledge is an essential key for anything we strive to achieve in life. Knowledge allows the understanding of freedom and the freedom of understanding. Knowledge answers questions and questions answers. Knowledge brings light to darkness, reality to dreams, and hope to hopelessness. We need to educate or re-educate ourselves with regard to our identity and self-image. Regardless of where we live, what lifestyle we have, what sexual or political preference we have, the one thing that we have in common is that we were all born black. Let me reassure you that this is not intended to be a resurgence of the “Black Power” or “Black is Beautiful” campaigns. Although these continue to be provocative slogans that we should acknowledge, let’s remember what we learned in Chapter One. Black is not a country or land. Therefore, it cannot be used as a reference to where we came from, but rather, in reference to whom we are as a people. We should not totally discontinue the use of the term “black”. If we are to restore a sense of pride, then we need to reaffirm our “blackness” as a positive trait, as opposed to a negative stereotype. Let’s also, remember what we learned in Chapter Four. From the time that we are born, we are brainwashed to believe that anything black is bad, evil and inferior, especially, if it relates to skin color. We are still haunted by the unflattering caricatures of us from years ago. People jeered and snickered at the dark skin, thick lips and large hips. Those are not weaknesses. Those are our strengths. Those are our ancestor’s characteristics. How could we have descended from kings and queens that were weak and inferior? That makes no sense. Weakness is not a trait common to individuals that rule entire kingdoms; and I guarantee you that none of them was embarrassed about the darkness of their skin. Let’s follow the example set by the early Africans who considered their dark skin a blessing and a badge of honor.



What is re-declaration, and why is it necessary? Re-declaration is the recognition and reaffirmation of our racial status. This is necessary for several reasons. With the increasing number of interracial relationships, the growing trend is for the offspring to classify themselves as “biracial”, “multi-racial” or the infamous-- “other”. This can no longer be acceptable. This is an issue about which, we can’t afford to have people sitting on the fence. We need to have a revival of our cultural spirit, and we can’t accomplish this with individuals that are indifferent, in denial and confused about who they are, and from where they came. This is necessary to invoke the attention needed to make everyone aware that now is the time for change. This is necessary to inspire everyone to rededicate himself or herself to the preservation of our race. Finally, this is necessary to serve as the catalyst for restoring a sense of honor and pride to our race.

Now, how do we make use of this re-declaration? What we need to do is organize, localize and nationalize ourselves in such a way that we can reach out to those lost individuals and allow them to reconnect with the base of Black America. We need to setup offices in every major city across the United States. These offices would serve as base camps, where individuals can go to receive information about voter-registration, black candidates, black-owned businesses, job opportunities and social groups. These non-profit offices would be nothing like the NAACP, the Urban League or any of those other so-called black support groups that have become hopelessly obsolete. Organizations like the NAACP were designed for yesterday’s society.  In 1909 there was a purpose and a need for this archaic line of support. However, we are beyond the year 2000 and we live in a totally different society. We live in a society with openly accepted and exhibited interracial relationships. There are no longer separate entrances for blacks, separate water fountains for blacks or separate toilet facilities for blacks. This realization manifested in the aftermath of the O.J. Simpson trial. Historically, a black defendant in a courtroom was a prelude to a guilty verdict. The rejoicing that followed the “not guilty” verdict was largely an acknowledgment that finally, the American justice system was ready to work for African Americans. In today’s society, a Black man can date a white woman, marry her and perhaps even kill her, and still, walk out of a court room a free man. Let’s face it, this is a society that no longer needs the NAACP or any of those other ancient Black support groups. Yes, racism still exists, but in today’s society, if a black person is the victim of discrimination they have legal recourse. If a Black individual is accused of a crime, the legal system now, offers equal support for African Americans. In fact, litigation works so well for African Americans that even white lawyers are eager to represent a black person in court. Once upon a time, this was unheard of, due to threats from the KKK or a justice system that was unsympathetic to the welfare of African Americans. The laws in recent years have almost completely leveled the playing field for us in court. Plus, white attorneys are practically tripping over themselves to defend a Black person in a discrimination suit, because of the potential monetary reward. Also, we are seeing more white lawyers, defending high-profile, Black athletes like Kobe Bryant, because they are aware that the system now, works for us. All this is available without the assistance of the NAACP or the Urban League. The offices that I advocate would not be self-serving or ignorant to the needs of the black community. These offices would be proactive. These offices would seek out the members of the local black community, and find out who they are, where they are and what their specific needs are. Thus, maintaining an important social link, and keeping everyone “in the loop” about anything and everything relevant to African Americans.




This is perhaps the main reason that people are afraid of unity. So, what will need to be sacrificed, in order for this reunification plan to succeed? As I alluded to earlier in this text, once our people became integrated into American society, we not only adopted the American way of doing things, but we also, picked up some bad American habits. We will need to eradicate these negative habits and practices that only serve to perpetuate stereotypes and reflect a bad image of African Americans. In the interest of brevity, I will only pick on a few of these practices, but I think you will get the overall idea. Here is a short list of the habits in question:  Dropping out of school, pimping, prostitution, drug/alcohol addiction, teen pregnancy, interracial relationships, use of the “N” word, homosexuality. The first five items in this list are pretty much self-explanatory. So, let’s examine the last three items.


The “N” Word

     From slavery’s beginning to the present day, the use of the word, “Nigger” has been a constant source of pain and controversy. It is a reminder of a horrible past, but more importantly, it is an indication that the attitude of racism and white supremacy still exists. It is a derogatory term that has traveled far beyond American soil. It is used by Italians, Mexicans, Cubans, Latinos, Asians, etc . . . What disturbs me more than its use by all of these other races, is its use by African Americans. The last thing I want is for African Americans to limit their vocabulary, but this is one word that doesn’t belong in our vocabulary. Rappers and various black entertainers are attempting to justify its use, by suggesting that it is a term of endearment, from one black person to another. Perhaps this allows them to sleep better at night, but I don’t support that theory. I believe it is out of simple-minded ignorance that people continue to use it. Remember our discussion about deception? It was important for the slave masters to brainwash the slaves into thinking that they were inferior. That was just the beginning. They discovered it was easier and more efficient to have the slaves convince each other that they were inferior, so they taught them to call each other disparaging names such as, “Nigger”. They didn’t want the slaves to have any self-respect, and they didn’t want them to believe that they were a beautiful people. So, the same technique was used to teach us to despise dark skin, kinky hair and all of our other traits. It was the same technique that made us believe that anything black is bad. This same scheme of brainwashing is what taught us to fear each other, fight each other and hate each other. Don’t be deceived. It doesn’t matter how you spell it or pronounce it. The “N” word is still a word used to oppress and brainwash African Americans, and we simply, need to discontinue using any form of this word.




     Is there a place in the black community for homosexuality? I realize that this is going to cause a considerable amount of controversy, but it has to be dealt with; so, let’s jump right into it. I struggled with this highly controversial topic for a long time. Growing up with a solid Christian foundation, my original response was negative. However, something about that position seemed unjustified, and the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. Finally, I realized that I couldn’t base my analysis on single-minded opinion. This issue deserves a more thorough analysis. One element of this debate, is the question as to whether homosexuality is by birth or by choice? It is logical to deduce that a male, having feminine tendencies or a female, having male tendencies could be caused by some hormonal or bio-chemical imbalance or perhaps some meta-physical phenomenon, unknown to science. The ultimate finality is a conscious decision to act on such feelings and/or mental impulses to do, as they say, “come out of the closet.”  This being the case, it is rational to conclude that this reality is by both choice and birth. Earlier in this text, I discussed how the media could distort our perception of the truth. As such, I did some extensive research on this subject, and what I discovered was astonishing, to say the least. All of the great cultures and civilizations of the past have had their share of homosexuals, even if they were not tolerated. For two centuries, ten openly bisexual emperors ruled China. Similar facts support the existence of homosexual behavior in such places as Japan, Rome, Iran and Arabia. Homosexuality existed in the ancient lands of Greece, Inca and Mayan, and yes, even Africa. The native Hausa people of northern Nigeria confirm homosexual behavior among their people, which dates back thousands of years. This evidence discounts the theory that homosexuality was a trait learned from the American culture. As I stated in the introduction, I am not a preacher, so I will not start quoting scriptures, now. Besides, those that are quick to quote from the Bible, are equally quick to forget that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. To point a finger at homosexuals on this one issue would make us all hypocrites. Furthermore, I will resist the urge to mandate my personal morality to others. Also, in my analysis of this issue, I must include my own personal experience. No, it’s not what you think. I have a female acquaintance that is a lesbian. Although she is not African American, she is Native American, and in terms of oppression, there isn’t much difference. Anyway, she is a very special and trusted friend. She has never tried to persuade me to explore the gay lifestyle, and I have responded in kind, by never trying to preach to her or persuade her to adopt a straight lifestyle. Furthermore, she and I collaborated on a screenplay; thus, proving that a homosexual and a heterosexual can work together to achieve a common goal. So, let’s put this issue in perspective with the text. The focus here is on unity. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes or watch the same TV shows. As long as there is a commitment to support and enhance the race in other areas such as: politics, economics and civil justice, then sexual preference becomes less important than the pride, pain and passion of the individual. As one anonymous homosexual said, “My sexuality is a small, almost insignificant part of who I am as a person.” Now, are you getting a sense of why people are so afraid of unity? This is just one issue capable of driving a wedge through the heart of the black community. If you thought the last topic was hot, then hang on, because we’re about to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.



Interracial Dating/Marriage

     Is there a place in the black community for interracial relationships? I think you know me well enough by now, to guess my answer. I doubt if there is anything you can do that would be more anti-cultural than marry someone outside your race. What’s the problem with it? Well, it’s really quite simple. Every child born to an interracial couple pushes us closer and closer to the brink of non-existence. Perhaps not so much technically, but certainly, in terms of our complexion, identity and cultural heritage. In other words, it fragments another piece of our central core. I’ve already discussed the importance of reaffirming and rededicating our lives to who we are and from where we came. This means 100% devotion. We can’t have people sitting on the fence, or even, going over the fence, when it’s convenient. A black man can’t profess to be 100% black in the daytime, and then, sneak out at night to see Suzie white girl. A black woman can’t profess to be 100% black in the daytime, and then, sneak out at night to see Billy white boy. Now, do people have a right to pursue anyone of any ethnic group, in order to satisfy their personal gratification? Absolutely, yes. After all, this is a “free” society, isn’t it? People have a choice to marry outside their race, to be gay, to join gangs, to get pregnant at 13. However, this isn’t about personal gratification. This is about a unified gratification-- the bigger picture. All of these destructive habits will have to be sacrificed straight to the pit of Hell. Realistically, it is unlikely that the majority of individuals will be willing to do just that. If we can’t embrace the concept of sacrificing these peculiar habits for the greater good of our race, then we are doomed. Because this is the only way that we can achieve a state of physical and psychological unity, and without unity, anything and everything that we attempt to accomplish for the betterment of our race will ultimately fail.

     In 1916, Marcus Garvey submitted that the hour had come for the individual Negro, as well as the entire race, to decide upon a course of action in the pursuit of liberty. Decades later, I emphatically, re-submit that the hour of resolve is upon us.

 James A. Michener said, “An age is called dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.”  For those who have chosen to see the light, the resolution is as plain as day. Ironically, that resolution is reaffirmed in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

     When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


     For those who have chosen not to see the light, there will be another winter of racism, another spring of bigotry, another summer of riots, and another fall of discrimination. The seasons will continue to repeat themselves like the chorus of a song. Meanwhile, the power base of rich, white Americans will sit quietly and securely in their ivory towers, while yet another crop of naive protest marchers and civil rights activists chant and bellow a familiar tune, “No Justice, No Peace!”  “No Justice, No Peace!”


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