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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Re: The End of the Black American Narrative

Hello Dera:

Thanks so much for the link to Charles Johnson's compelling and provocative article, "The End of the Black American Narrative." I do hope that everyone at AfriGeneas will read it. At first glance, many readers who see the article's subtitle might think that Johnson's writing argues the importance of blotting out slavery's awful history. Not so!

Charles Johnson writes:

"This unique black American narrative, which emphasizes the experience of victimization, is quietly in the background of every conversation we have about black people, even when it is not fully articulated or expressed. It is our starting point, our agreed-upon premise, our most important presupposition for dialogues about black America. We teach it in our classes, and it is the foundation for both our scholarship and our popular entertainment as they relate to black Americans. Frequently it is the way we approach each other as individuals."

Every day we read, see or hear about our history as a legacy based on slavery and victimization. Here at AfriGeneas our family research we've uncovered a different legacy. A legacy of self-determination, a triumph over slavery. A legacy that dispels victimization and teaches us that our ancestors' experience was unique and could never be lumped into one template of "The Black Experience."

Writing about this experience only in negative denies us of our American heritage. Our ancestors' contribution to the shaping of the Americas was not a side note in its history. Surely our research tells a different story.

Charles Johnson confirms this when he writes:

"Yet, despite being an antique, the old black American narrative of pervasive victimization persists, denying the overwhelming evidence of change since the time of my parents and grandparents, refusing to die as doggedly as the Ptolemaic vision before Copernicus or the notion of phlogiston in the 19th century, or the deductive reasoning of the medieval schoolmen. It has become ahistorical."

Thank you so much for sharing Charles Johnson's powerful argument about the "overwhelming evidence" that presents our ancestral legacy as history.

Write Away

History never lies, only the people who interpret it.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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