Back in the sixties, the catch phrase was Black Power and it was accompanied by a raised arm with a clenched fist.
“Power to the People” was the militant chant initiated by those wearing black leather jackets and black leather tams tilted to the side of the head.
Black women stopped straightening their hair and we stopped getting perms. Visits to the beauty shops changed to regular trips to the barber.
Magnificent Brothers, in the Los Angeles Crenshaw District, was the place to go if you lived in the County.
“Power to the People” meant respecting who you were; kinky hair was in. Angela Davis wore the model of the perfect “natural”.
My youngest, born in 1967, came home from the hospital not wearing a little bonnet but instead with hair, combed by me, standing as tall as I could arrange it.
“Power to the People” died.
It gave way to the birth of black women with their purchased Chinese hair hanging in their faces and needing to be pushed away like the white girls do when their straight blond locks interfere with a clear view of what’s around them.
Now we’ve got the catchy slogan “Black Lives Matter” which rode into cities all across America on the hoods of squad cars operated by killing machines called cops.
“Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” was born because of a killing of a Black teenager in Ferguson MO. and “I Can’t Breathe” came to life with the death of another Black man in New York .
My kid, the one born with a “natural,” now wears Chinese hair. She was steeped in the Black Power movement as a baby and as a toddler she attended UCLA classes with me pushing her stroller.
For me, “Black Lives Matter” is as much a pipe dream as what became of the Black Power movement back in the 60’s and 70’s.
Black Lives do not matter to America’s white power structure because there is no place for us in America’s 21st century. But we are not alone; the lives of the homeless don’t have any relevance, either, nor do the lives of poor whites and Chicanos.
America has created, and not by accident, what has been labeled by sociologists as a separate and unequal throw-away society.
Did you join a protest? Did you join a march? Have you recently signed a petition that made progress look like it could happen?
My daughter with the Chinese hair says her store-bought locks have nothing to do with a movement or a way of thinking
She’s probably right about that.
But who will disagree that Black folk are as powerless today as we were fifty years ago when we chanted “Black Power”?
Who will challenge Black Lives Don’t Matter Nor do . . . ?