Let’s talk about the past, present, and future of Africans in America. Africans came to America either in chains or of their own volition. They came from both scattered tribes and unified kingdoms. They spoke or clicked different languages, they were of wildly different cultures, tribes, and nations, and they wrote using various scripts such as Coptic, Ge’ez, and Vai, but in America they are currently referred to by the one-size-fits-all term of “African-Americans”. Pardon me, but that’s about as accurate as calling Americans of Italian, Irish, and German descent “European-Americans”. Oh, sure, they’re all descended from Europeans, but aren’t the Irish different from the Germans? And aren’t they both different from the Italians? If they’re so different, then how accurate would it be to omit their nationality when referring to their ancestries and heritage? Not very, in my opinion. And that's what this essay is about: accuracy as applied to African-Americans and our future in America.
Driven by Madison Avenue and fashion runways around the world, the concept of beauty is an ever-evolving thing possessed of neither a steady form nor a truly constant definition. To me, the only constants about it are nebulous ones in that beauty is said to be pleasing to the eye or in the eye of the beholder. However, facets of beauty change frequently and often differ per ethnic group, and the concept blurs even further when social dynamics inevitably come into play.
To the left is a picture of legendary actress/writer Mae West. Born in 1893 as Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York, she was one of American cinema's earliest sex symbols, a blonde tigress who exuded a raw sexual presence as had never been seen before on the silver screen. She gained fame--and notoriety--not only for her looks, but from what she wore, what she said, what she wrote, and the unforgettable way in which she spoke her most memorable lines with an almost feline purr. She was bold. She was sensuous. She was dynamic. Yet despite her fame, despite her flirtatious screen persona, despite all that Mae West brought to Hollywood and all that she was, would the great Mae West be seen as the most physically beautiful living woman today?
In this age of the Internet and all things Twitter-ish, acronyms such as BFN, FTF, ROFL, OMG, TYT, and their ilk have pervaded the American lexicon as aided by every slow, lazy, or shamelessly trendy typist on the Web, and I believe enough is enough. Sure, acronyms have been is wide use for years, with NBC, WMD, BLT, SONAR, AM, FM, EPA, ATF, RADAR, FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, SCUBA, SNAFU, NASA, RAF, SSN, DSRV, and the names of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "alphabet agencies" being prime examples. However, today’s overdependence on acronyms hints at something negative within modern America, and I find that extremely troubling.
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