(ESPM 2019) An important idea brought by the text is that James Brown’s song “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”

How James Brown Made
Black Pride a Hit

It’s been 50 years since he wrote
“Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” a
song that is still necessary.
By Randall Kennedy

In the gym at Paul Junior High School in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1968, not that long before the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I asked a buddy whether he was interested in a certain girl. He told me that he was not because she was too dark.

How James Brown Made Black Pride a Hit

He and I were African-American. (Then we would have called ourselves Negro.) So was she. All of us supported the Civil Rights Movement and idolized Dr. King, yet I did not hold my friend’s colorstruck judgment against him. And he did not state his opinion with embarrassment. We had both internalized our society’s derogation of blackness.

Indeed, we luxuriated in the denigration, spending hours trading silly, recycled but revealing insults: “Yo mama so black, she blend in with the chalkboard.” “Yeah, well, yo mama so black, she sweats chocolate.”

It was precisely because of widespread colorism that James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” posed a challenge, felt so exhilarating, and resonated so powerfully. It still does. Much has changed over the past half century. But, alas, the need to defend blackness against derision continues.

Various musicians in the 1960s tapped into yearnings for black assertiveness, autonomy and solidarity. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sang “We’re a Winner.” Sly and the Family Stone offered “Stand.” Sam Cooke (and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding) performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” But no entertainer equaled Brown’s vocalization of African-Americans’ newly triumphal sense of self-acceptance.

That Brown created the song most popularly associated with the Black is Beautiful movement is ironic. He generally stayed away from protest, endorsed the presidential re-election of Richard Nixon, lavishly praised Ronald Reagan, and consistently lauded Strom Thurmond.

His infrequent sallies into politics usually sounded in patriotic, lift-yourselfup-ism. In the song “America is My Home,” he proclaimed without embarrassment that the United States “is still the best country / And that’s without a doubt.” Alluding to his own trajectory, he challenged dissenters to name any other country in which a person could start out as a poor shoeshine boy but end up as a wealthy celebrity shaking hands with the president.

At the very time that in “Say It Loud,” Brown seemed to be affirming Negritude, he also sported a “conk” — a distinctive hairdo that involved chemically removing kinkiness on the way to creating a bouffant of straightened hair. Many AfricanAmerican political activists, especially those with a black nationalist orientation, decried the conk as an illustration of racial self-hatred. For a brief period, Brown abandoned the conk and adopted an Afro, but that was only temporary. The conk was part of the characteristic look of “The Godfather of Soul.”

Even though by 1968 uprisings against white supremacism had been erupting for a decade with great intensity and success — the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Children’s’ Crusade in Birmingham, the protest against disenfranchisement in Selma — prejudice against blackness remained prevalent, including among African-Americans.

Champions of African-American uplift in the 1960s sought to liberate blackness from the layers of contempt, fear, and hatred with which it had been smeared for centuries. Brown’s anthem poignantly reflected the psychic problem it sought to address. People secure in their status don’t feel compelled to trumpet their pride. At the same time “Say it Loud!” was a rousing instance of a reclamation that took many forms. Instead of celebrating light skin, thin lips, and “good” (i.e., straight) hair, increasing numbers of African-Americans began valorizing dark skin, thick lips and “bad” (i.e., kinky) hair.

The reclamation of blackness in the sixties made tremendous headway quickly. By 1970 my friend would not have dared to repeat out loud what he had told me unapologetically two years before. Here, as elsewhere, however, changes wrought by the black liberation movement, though impressive, were only partial. Nearly four decades after the release of “Say It Loud,” Professors Jennifer Hochschild and Vesla Weaver, having synthesized the pertinent academic literature, declared authoritatively that compared to their lighter-skinned counterparts, dark-skinned blacks continue to be burdened by lower levels of education, income, and job status. They receive longer prison sentences and are less likely to own homes or to marry. Filmmakers, advertisers, modeling agencies, dating websites and other key gatekeepers demonstrate repeatedly the ongoing pertinence of the old saw: If you’re black get back. If you’re brown, stick around. If you’re white you’re alright.

Intraracial colorism in Black America is often seen as a topic that should, if possible, be avoided, especially in “mixed company.” That sense of embarrassment three decades ago prompted officials at Morehouse College to demand that Spike Lee cease filming on campus once they learned that his movie was exposing, among other things, black collegiate colorism. The impulse toward avoidance remains strong.

With racial prejudice against all African-Americans still a potent force, many would just as soon ditch the discussion of “black on black” complexional bias. Colorism, however, remains a baleful reality.

Half a century after James Brown’s proclamation, it remains imperative to assert what should have been assumed and uncontroversial all along: that black is beautiful and as worthy of pride and care and consideration as any other hue.
(Adapted from: www.nytimes.com, 20/07/2018)

QUESTÃO 41
(ESPM 2019) An important idea brought by the text is that James Brown’s song “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” was a milestone in the defense of:

a) colorism.
b) African-Americans’ self-consciousness.
c) racial prejudice.
d) a black nationalist orientation.
e) the reclamation of blackness.

QUESTÃO ANTERIOR:
(ESPM 2019) Considere a função f: N* → N, tal que f(x) seja o número máximo de interseções de x retas do plano.

  • [accordion]
    • RESOLUÇÃO:
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    • GABARITO:
      • e) the reclamation of blackness.

PRÓXIMA QUESTÃO:
- (ESPM 2019) In the second paragraph, the boldfaced sentence

QUESTÃO DISPONÍVEL EM:
Prova ESPM 2019.1 com Gabarito

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