The other day I was at a poetry spot and the host gently reminded the audience how magnificent the art was for the evening and that it had all been created by African American people. The crowd seemed to be in awe of themselves and apparently had forgotten our brilliance. It made me think of how perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be imitated and distorted so much and for so long that we now imitate the distorted image of what is given back to us. That comment provoked this blog. To hopefully encourage writer’s to remember the power and historical relevance of… THE WORD.
First let me mention, I am writing this from the perspective of Kemetic ancient studies. The antiquity of Africa. The land where the seven liberal arts formed the foundation for the Egyptian mystery systems, the first system of a documented resource for salvation. A sacred and complex study of disciplined curriculum for writing and teaching. Where breath transcended into sound, prayer, song, poem and eventually the eternal documentation for the cradle of civilization.
How important should a writer of color hold their art? Well, considering our ancestors were murdered for speaking, dancing, and writing in their original language, that question should encompass no space for denial. They were murdered for a language and lifestyle that supported true knowledge of self to escape the wheels of rebirth. A dance that made rain fall. A music that could be captured by soil. Today’s writers should hold their art very seriously. In fact, it should be held as the rest of the world views it, with reverent veneration! It is adored globally.
The art should be as important to us as it was in the Harlem Renaissance. The time frame that was an audacious “flowering of Negro literature” to quote James Weldon Johnson. It should be as important as the Black Arts Movement that re-birthed dialogue in “our” vernacular. The spirit of those movements birthed us this entity called Hip Hop. Hip Hop has the capability to resemble the social, moral and intellectual faculties that were conducive in the structured graces to spur political activism and organization for community progression. It has those capabilities. It has wings that flew it’s energy across the Atlantic. (sorry NY… it has always been bigger than you.) It consists of the three components to storytelling from the Egyptian Mystery System: (1) Knowledge of truth (2) Knowledge of the opinion of others (3) The doctrine of opposites and reciprocity.
None of this is new! Just told in a different tone to match the times. A few questions for my comrades and contemporary writers:
(1) Does your audience learn more about you or more about them when you have finished performing?
(2) Is your tone embarrassingly honest?
(3) How does your audience greet you afterwards? With afar admiration? Or a desperation to talk with you and determine where you’ve met before?
(4) Can someone else interpret your work with the same intimacy as you?
(5) Is your work disposable?
(6) Will you be remembered tomorrow?
Don’t imitate the imitator. Your legacy was stolen and distorted. YOU ARE THE ORIGINAL! Write our stories today.