Friday, September 26, 2008

Guess Who's At Dinner (part 2 of 2)

This week, our hueless heroes head to Longhorn country to seek out the cultural identity they know is seeking them.

Where are we going, suh?

Austin. Specifically, the University of Texas.

What for, suh?

CANKERConference of African Nationals and Kente-clad Ebon-types who are trying real hard to keep it Real.

It’s an annual event. Taking you there will be the most efficient way to immerse you in the cultural context of which your white foster parents have deprived you.

“African,” suh?

Yeah, you know, of or from that huge landmass on the map across the Atlantic Ocean? Below Europe? One of the seven continents?

Oh, no, suh. I think you mean six continents, North America being the sixth—the final frontier. And we all know that Europe is the first—the birthplace of mankind.

Who sold you that tripe?

School teacher, suh. See? Nothing south of Europe besides water. Here’s the map in my Social Studies book.


Hold up; let me see that book.

Didn’t you learn this lesson in school, suh?

The Protestants separated from the Catholic church in 16th-Century England and were so endowed with the Holy Spirit that they escaped westward, walking over the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.

Are you serious?

The English heathens who followed them weren’t righteous enough to walk on water, so they took three huge ships to America: the Neeger, the Pimper, and the Martin Luther King, Jr.


And all the days spent sunning on the decks during their voyage darkened their skins; that’s how we now have black Americans.

Dear Lord, we’re going to have to start completely from scratch with you.

And the light-skinned and dark-skinned Americans have lived in perfect harmony ever since they reunited on the shores of the U.S.

I wasn’t going to speed, but, kid, you’ve been so misled, I think it’s within my legal rights to run a few old ladies off the road if that’s what it takes to get you to this conference.


Huh, not quite as festive as I remember this conference being a few years ago.

Which one of these people is going to tell me who I really am, Beau?

Uh, gimme a second, kid.

Beau! What are you doing here?

Charley? I didn’t know you were an academic.

Knowledge is power, my brother. Who’ve you got with you? Your nephew?

Nah, suh. My name’s Sam. Beau lured me into his car while my foster parents were asleep.


Uh … it’s a long story, brother.

Aren’t they always?

So why’s the conference so dead?

The Keynote speaker, a former pupil of Paul Gilroy, just arrived from England and delivered his address: “Breaking the Chain: A Call to Completely Erase Africa from the Political and Scholarly Landscape.”

Needless to say, it left everyone a bit shell-shocked.

That’s the most ridiculous notion I ever—

That’s what I thought, too—at first. But think about it—with all its genocide, disease, poverty, and political corruption, wouldn’t everyone just be better off if we pretended that Africa didn’t exist?

That’s patently absurd! You can’t just wish away a continent of roughly a billion people!

Wrong, my brother. It’s already begun. The Keynote’s address has sparked a sea change.

As we speak, black historians are reframing the debate on post-colonial Africa, positing the field of study as merely a persistent response to a thoroughly compelling rhetorical question.

You’re kidding me?

Afraid not. African American Studies Departments in universities across the nation are either attaching themselves to Folklore Departments or folding altogether!


With any luck, young brothers like Sam here will grow up with virtually no knowledge of our vast and continual cultural holocaust, and will simply assimilate into mainstream American culture as darker counterparts of the majority race.

This is beyond comprehension! ... Sam, what’s wrong?


Looks like he’s staring at that ripped poster.

Hey, I don’t think that’s supposed to be here! It was supposed to be thrown into the incinerator with all the other escapist relics of the past.

Sam, are you OK?

I’m starting … I’m starting to remember!

Remember what? What’s this kid raving about?


Father ...


Father … I hear you …

Lift every voice and sing / till Earth and Heaven ring

No! Noooooooo! You can’t sing that here! Not anymore!

Ring with the harmonies / of liberty!

What’s this commotion?

Just some “Old Negro” clinging to the sentimental trappings of his essentialist, imagined past!

Let our rejoicing rise / High as the listening skies. / Let it resound / Loud as the rolling sea!

Amazing, Sam! Wonderful! Great singing!

Did you hear any singing?

No! Never! Did you?

Gracious, no! Whatever are you talking about?

Don’t mind them, Sam. They’re already “recontextualizing” this entire evening.

They won’t be content until they’ve eliminated music and spontaneity from the realm of "enlightened" human existence altogether.

Let’s roll out of here.

Ah, “music,” “spontaneity”—how quaint, how folksy.

I can problematize any claims that he even attended this conference on at least ten different levels!

OK, this place is getting creepy. Hey, Beau! Let me catch a ride back home!

Back at the home of Jared and Jessica

Sam, Beau told us about your little excursion last night.

Yeah, we hope you didn’t pick up any negative habits from spending time with those people.

It was a thoroughly educational experience, Mom and Dad, and a wholly positive one, I assure you.

That’s good to hear, son. Now go scrub the shower tiles like a good boy.

With all due respect, Mom and Dad, go scrub your own damn tiles.

I’m sorry? I must not have heard you correctly.

And mow your own damn lawn from now on while you’re at it.

Now wait just a second, mister!

In fact, while you two were out grabbing breakfast at IHOP this morning, leaving me here to polish the silverware, I moved all your clothes and toiletries into the garage.

I think I’ll sleep in the master bedroom for a while.

Says who?

Yeah, Sam. We’re going to have to put our foot down!

Better put it down outside that door on your way to the garage. I’m the HNIC now.

Well, I guess he does have a point, Jessica.

Guess so, honey. But, Jared, what’s an HNIC?

I don’t know, but I’m going to Google it once I get to the garage. Hopefully it’s just some triviality he picked up from a Will Smith movie.

God, I hope so…. I love Will Smith.

Don’t we all, Jessica? Good God, don’t we all?