Say No to the N-Word
Time to celebrate excellence and not ignorance
by Earl G. Graves, Sr.
1, 2007--Today, we live in a society happy to watch black people
denigrate themselves, a culture that sees such self-denigration as a
form of entertainment—and a lucrative one at that. The worst, most
profane and self-destructive of the black community are celebrated in
comedy, music, television, and film in the name of "keeping it real."
Worse, not only do too few of us stand up against the public defamation
of black people, too many of us defend such defamation and engage in it
ourselves. It has been noted, and is worth repeating, that this is true
of no other race or ethnic group in America.
I say: Enough is enough! So long as we permit the celebration of
ignorance over intelligence and profit from the desecration of our
time-honored values and traditions—allowing a culture of gold teeth,
sagging pants, disdain for education, disrespect for women,
glorification of criminality, low ambition, and irresponsible sexual
behavior to be regarded as authentically black—we are destined to march
back into the margins of society, into the shadows that so many heroes
and heroines of our history fought so hard to escape.
That is why, as has been widely reported, I pulled the plug on comedian
Eddie Griffin in response to his insistence on using profane and
offensive language during his performance at the 14th annual Black
Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge, held this past Labor Day
weekend. For the record, it was clearly communicated to both Griffin
and his representatives, during the weeks and months prior to the
event, that such language was absolutely unacceptable. Griffin was
reminded several times of the nature of our event and the expectations
of our sponsors and attendees.
However, this is not a case of BLACK ENTERPRISE
against Eddie Griffin. It's about standing up for the values of
achievement, decency, integrity, honest effort, and education despite
the forces arrayed against us and regardless of class or economic
status. The life of William "Bill" Randolph Hudgins, an original member
and only chairperson of the BE
Board of Advisors, is a prime example.
Bill Hudgins was born in 1907 in Petersburg, Virginia, into a world
rife with racism and hostile to his very existence as a black man. He
faced every possible social and economic disadvantage. At the age of 2,
he was adopted by Agnes and William Hudgins, who wrapped him in love
and discipline. From that humble beginning, Bill Hudgins became an
astute businessman whose life was full of accomplishment and
distinction—including helping to found not just one, but two of the
nation’s largest black financial institutions.
For 100 years, he was the epitome of dignity and personal
excellence—the model of black achievement and community service upon
which many of us have patterned our lives. Ironically, Hudgins died on
Aug. 31, the very same day that I was compelled to stop Griffin's act.
There are those who would have you believe that the example of Hudgins'
life is the exception, not the rule, of the black experience. Each
month, it is the business of our company to prove otherwise. Anybody
with even a passing familiarity with BE knows that the very reason for
our existence is to celebrate the best and brightest in black America
in an environment that remains intensely hostile to our ambitions. We
believe in the excellence and unlimited potential of black people, and
we are fully invested in that reality. We stand for the principles,
values, beliefs, and dreams—championed by Frederick Douglass, Marcus
Garvey, Rosa Parks, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Chisholm,
Jackie Robinson, and countless others—that are the true legacy of black
culture. We have come too far as a people to turn our backs on, to
squander, this inheritance. We can no longer allow—and can scarcely
afford—the continued defamation of our culture and community. We are
better than that, and we deserve better than that. Enough is enough.
Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
se SURPASSER ,ne JAMAIS ABDIQUER,TOUJOURS RESTER HUMBLE