I have never seen this portion from his 1962 Los Angeles speech before, because one of the more widely used excerpts is his question about black self-hatred. And while we can follow the timeline of his life and work trajectory (this was pre-fallout with NOI), his words do still ring true. This is why I do so enjoy watching and reading his speeches, because his clarity was unparalleled.
I decided to tack the excerpt on as well. Many people are acting surprised about why certain hair-hiding and perpetual wig-wearing black women educators and comedians have publicly bashed their own blackness and that of other black girls and women by negatively reacting to the natural state of our hair. This isn’t new and it didn’t start with women. This attitude is reinforced by patriarchy and whether it originated around the time enslavement was legal in this country does not excuse it’s wide-use today.
It’s been interesting to distantly watch the “shock and awe” of it all, but I can’t help but think how this seems to be an overreaction to the earlier and continued silence when the ones bashing black girls and women are black males. Today, the main problem is not white dominance, but black disloyalty. The last time I checked, they still have careers supported by many of the ones feeling “outraged”. At least that comedian apologized…but still. I wouldn’t break out the champagne just yet. While there’s been a rallying support for the grade-school child that was so viciously treated by her principal, what about all the other black girls who hear this negativity reinforced in their home and “community” every day?
Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such extent that you bleach to get like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other?
Here’s the FULL speech to watch in its entirety.