Regarding The Rebirth Of African-American Greatness In Trump’s America

Or “how and why African-Americans need to get ‘cool like dat’ again…”

Barack Obama is the coolest and greatest African-American who ever lived. For African-Americans living in post-Obama America, this is so much more a curse and much less of a gift. Obama’s eight-year run being trumped by, well, Donald Trump, ushers in the notion that maybe, as African-Americans, we’ve completed a full cycle of American excellence. Now that we’re back at the beginning again in so many ways, maybe it’s time to contextualize what a “new beginning” looks like for us here in America. In accepting this, we also must realize just how hard we must work as a collective group of people to re-birth our cool and re-assert our greatness as American citizens — possibly even above and beyond the seemingly out-of-reach Obama standard.

Regarding how amazing our journey to peak African-American greatness as seen through the context of the election of the 44th President of the United States actually is, consider the following:

Barack Obama rose up against the stigma of being part of an ethnic group who were considered three-fifths of a person for the country’s first 81 years of existence. This was then followed by the constant slaughtering of prominent African-American leaders for another 100 subsequent years after the passage of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1868. Couple in the 40 years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 assassination involving a great preponderance of African-Americans being impoverished, incarcerated or drug addicted, and the idea that Obama won with 52.9% of 58% of eligible American voters of all races voting in 2008 is actually completely amazing.

As well, the idea that he’s likely to escape after two terms in office without his body being destroyed by an assassin’s bullet is more than enough of a tremendous reason to erect a bust of this seemingly magical man on Mount Rushmore.

In the midst of all of this blight, there were many African-Americans who over-excelled to such a degree as to create the staircase of impressive achievement that Obama climbed. In attempting to either replicate or exceed Obama’s success in our next 240 African-American years in the United States, we must ascend past these (of many) accomplishments.

  • Benjamin Banneker was a self-taught farmer, mathematician, astronomer, author and land surveyor who invented the first American-made clock as well as surveyed the land that became Washington, DC
  • Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany during the height of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi rule of the country.
  • In 1968, New York City’s Shirley Chisholm ascended from being a daughter of unskilled Guianese immigrants to becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress. In 1972, she was the first African-American AND first woman to run for President of the United States.
  • Though a blind African-American musician, Stevie Wonder overcame his disability and his ethnic background to win 22 Grammy Awards including three consecutive “Album of the Year” wins for Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), and Songs in the Key of Life (1976), and become one of America (and the world’s) most beloved creative forces.

The degree of inventiveness, determination and ability to create reality out of fantastical circumstances required to excel as an African-American in 2016 is now higher than it was for Banneker in 1756, Jesse Owens in 1936, Shirley Chisholm in 1966, Stevie Wonder in 1976, and Barack Obama in 2016. Thus, while yes, we’re back at the beginning, it’s going to take something more to re-birth African-American cool.

Well yo I funk like dat / I’m phat like dat
I’m in like dat / Cause I swing like dat
We jazz like dat / We freak like dat
We zoom like dat / We out…we out…

The time is now to discover what our funkiest, phattest, jazziest, freakiest and zooming to our peak greatness African-American selves can be. We’re in a digital age, yet in Silicon Valley, our numbers in the upper echelon of that region would present us as akin to being “three-fifths” of a person. In the sociopolitical sense our lives apparently no longer matter, and socioeconomically, we’re being displaced from our land in greater numbers and being given the equivalent of the smallpox-laden blankets the US military gave Native Americans 250 years ago in return.

Thus, we’re back on the metaphorical plantation, toiling away, and while we may want to believe that we need to ideate creatively at the level of creating new technologies to remain at the Obama level, we may be at the place where it’s more survival hacks that become staple goods of the next American age that are necessary.

Therefore, I ask the following questions:

Speaking of Silicon Valley innovation, where’s the African-American desire to take soy-based foodstuffs into frighteningly poverty-ridden and nearly entirely gentrified ghettoes?

Where’s the African-American musical style that obliterates the historical precedent of blues, jazz, rock and roll, rap, techno, and EDM?

Where’s the desire across the board for African-Americans to reclaim the unwanted offal-like scraps from the plates of gluttonous and wasteful American society-in-general and make it into the flavor (flava?) -packed and mind-blowing experiences that then drive the mainstream imagination into overdrive and inspire the entire world?

Let the annals of history showcase that in becoming the first African-American President of the United States that Barack Obama became the greatest African-American who ever lived. As well, in noting this, let’s also realize that his excellence coupled with the election of Donald Trump now puts us, as a collective ethnic group, back at square one. Thus, for as much as we want to believe that we’ve “made it,” we’re actually back at the position of starting our struggle to relevancy, equality, and ideally, ascendancy, yet again.

Ultimately, two questions remain:

Are we cool like dat?

Or are we out…