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Feelin' the Funk of Racism

King Holiday 2003
Min. Paul Scott

I remember the first time that I was baptized in the
Funk when I was 5 years old. I was at the lake playing
with a little white girl when her father motioned for
her to get out of the water. Two minutes later “Susie”
waded back over and yelled "Daddy said I can't play
with niggers!" I remember standing there with my
beach ball watching Susie wade away…

I didn't understand racism back then and neither did I
understand the Funk. I knew that it was "so wide you
can't get around it, so low you can't go under it, so
high…" But that was about it. The older folks in the
neighborhood new about the Funk. I could tell by their
conversations about how they had gotten over the
latest daily trials and tribulations facing Black
folks. All I knew was that the Funk was something that
Black folks had to deal with. Far as I could tell it
was a mixture of Soul, to help us keep on keepin' on
through the hard times and a little bit of the blues
so we would not forget from whence we came. It was the
classic mixture of pleasure and pain.

Today, we are living in a time when "racism" is seen
as a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all. And
those who fight against racism are seen as paranoid
trouble makers, wasting their time and energy making
war with wind mills. When the rest of the world is
trying to forgive and forget, we are accused of
holding up progress. To borrow from John Lennon, if we
could just imagine that there was no racism, then the
world would be as one.

I found it ironic that the majority of the 2003
version of the conversation on race after the Trent
Lott thang was monopolized by white reporters and
politicians all trying to tell me what the Funk was
going on. (I bet that they never got dissed in the
middle of a lake before.) But there they were telling
me what was and was not racist.

For the white media "racism" is situational and makes
good copy for a slow news period. On a slow news day
if Tyrone gets fired for refusing to take off his Air
Force One sneakers at work, that could be the lead
story exposing the evils of racism. But on another day
the story of a brother who was shot 5 times by a
racist white cop on his way from buying diapers for
his baby girl becomes "nonracist" filler at the end of
the newscast.

For politicians racism is a loaded word that can be
used to show how good one party is as opposed to the
other party of "evil doers." We allow others to tell
us when to laugh, when to cry, when to protest or when
to let bygones be bygones.

This often leads those of us in the struggle to
question ourselves. Does racism still exist in this
land of milk and honey, DVD's and Bentley's or are we
just carrying the chains of a bygone era ? Maybe it
would be better if we all just got over it and moved
on. I see Black folks on TV who have gotten over it.
They seem perfectly happy hanging out with Brad and
Heather, sitting at the bar without a care in the
world. Are we losing the Funk?

Even Hip Hop ain't Funky no more. The beat that used
to make me wanna to Fight the Power, now makes me
wanna to be the power that the elders used to fight.
It no longer makes me want to honor my Black Queen but
it makes me wanna get dirty with Christina Auguilera
or do a duet with Britney Spears. Or dye my hair blond
and become an Eminem clone.

Then I hear the bass drop but it is not Bootsy
Collins, but it is the voice of my ancestors reminding
me to remember. Then the keyboard comes in and then
the snare and I remember the chains, the whips and the
fire hoses. I remember Emmett Till, I remember Medgar
Evers. And I remember a 5 year old boy standing in a
lake with tears in his eyes.

So as the band plays on, I again feel the Funk. I grab
the mic and yell, "No America, I don't want your
dream. I don't want to bow down to your white god of
racism. I don't want to fight your wars. And I do not
want your hypercritical holiday if it means that I
can't say that if Dr. King was here today, he would be
sitting in jail with Mumia…."

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day we must not lose the
Funk but we must never forget that the rode to FREEDOM
is still under construction.

Have Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone.

Min. Paul Scott is the founder of the Durham NC based
New Righteous Movement.

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Feelin' the Funk of Racism

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