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Mom didn't know that black is beautiful - and proud

By unknown | Oct 16, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Boredom is a terrible thing. It should be outlawed.

Boredom is a terrible thing. It should be outlawed.

I caught myself reading The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on a Life's Journey again. This, in case you've forgotten, is the so-so autobiography of Muhammad Ali, penned with a little help from one of his daughters, Hana Yasmeen Ali.

On page 51, "If I were President", the world's greatest boxer muses, like all black people of his generation - besides Steve Biko, Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X - about the dream of being the First Citizen of the US.

He writes: "In 1976, I went to the White House to meet with President Gerald Ford. When I arrived, I told him that I liked the place so much I might go after his job. I was only half-kidding. I don't want that job; it is too dangerous, but if I were president, things would be different."

Poor, Ali. And this was long before Alzheimer's, remember!

As he stands before Gerald Ford, the nigger pugilist dreams: "I thought about some of the things that I would do differently if I were the president of the United States.

"I imagined myself in the White House, sitting at my desk in the Oval Office. I knew that the president would have to be white so I imagined myself as a white man ready at last to be fair to the black people of America."

My heart really goes out to Ali and his ilk, especially those like my mother - may her dear soul rest in peace - who died before the name Barack Obama could touch their lips.

At least Ali is alive, even through the haze of the brain disorder that advances his senility, someone can still whisper in his ear that change is coming to America - and it is well nigh!

My mother, Sofia Mamohau, a good black woman, had no such luck.

When Ali dreamt this dream before Ford, enlightened black folk, such as Black Consciousness proponent Hlaku Rachidi, had already seen the light. "We are not carbon copies of white people," Rachidi had said. "We are human beings in our own right."

Let me not quote Biko again, for I do not want you to weep, as I so often do, motherlessly. In Ali's dream as US president, he's so nice to black people that the very next day he's killed.

Now, Uncle Sam then was long before the Michael Jackson joke, which goes: "It is true; America is indeed a land of opportunities. It is the only place where a poor black boy can grow up to be a middle-aged white woman."

Ah, the wonders of plastic surgery!

Now Dr Myles Munroe is in the country. He's one of a shrinking number of people in the world who still excite me. He says Obama's march to the White House is a victory against the stereotype that white is might, black is bad. This is for the living and the dead, Ali and my mother's crowd, who, largely thanks to the twin ills of colonialism and apartheid, did not live long enough to know that black is truly beautiful - and proud.


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