Feelin’ the Funk of Racism: King Holiday 2003

by 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 “rascism” 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 rascist.

For the white media “rascism” 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 rascism 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. He can be reached at minpaulscott@yahoo.com. Website: http://members.blackplanet.com/THE-MYD