Soul Train: An Archetype of Black Unity by Jerel E. Ferguson

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Soul Train: An Archetype of Black Unity
by Jerel E. Ferguson

When I was a child, it never dawned on me as I sat between my mother’s legs with a fried bologna sandwich and a bag of Chef E. Hunt potato chips, that while I watched Soul Train on the run-down Black & White, that I was watching a revolution of sorts.  There was no shouting, no fighting, no signs, and no protest; but looking back, there was a protest, a silent one against oppression and injustice.  We were united by our music, our dance and our hair.  The Afro was radical, it was Black & Proud, and it spoke loudly without words and went against Euro-American standards of so-called beauty. These brothers and sisters shared a collective sense of identity, identifying each other by large or tightly coiffed afros, complicated handshakes and jive-talk.  For thirty-five years, The Soul Train made stops in every home across America, displaying our style, our music and dance.

Fast forward to 2012, we’re so different from each other and unfortunately are more culturally-divided within our own culture.  Many men today are bald; (may be due to hair loss or stress), corn-rows/braids are still popular (in jail and on the streets), hair weave and extensions (keeping Indians and Asians rich and us poor), keeping us distinctively dissimilar from one another.  As a people, we can’t tell who we are anymore because we are in an un-natural state, we don’t know who we are or care about where we came from; living on false principles and materialistic values.  By no means am I including everyone but, the majority of folks are really disconnected ethnically.

Prior to the 1960’s Black-Americans burned or “conked” our hair and in the process [sic] fried our minds in attempts to copy the texture and hairstyles of our oppressors, but in the 70’s, the Afro was an ethnic rebirth, a celebration of our self, it brought about a belief that our uniqueness, our natural magnificence and our beauty was something to be proud of.  Black-Americans realized that our beauty lied without lye and processes, straighteners or other chemical treatments that made us look other than what we were.  Like long-haired hippies wore their hair long in protest against the system and war, Afro-Blacks wore our hair in honor of our culture and heritage.  It was also taken to be a “symbol of political unrest”, and was very prominent amongst young civil rights workers and sociopolitical figures in music and movies.

I was fortunate at the age of 4 in 1979 to have an Afro. While my hairstyle wasn’t a direct indication of my radicalism-saturated childhood, it was fun to have.  Looking back at pictures and looking at all of that hair, gives me a tremendous sense of pride.

In a time when political turmoil, racism and war threatened to tear this country further apart than it was, our brothers and sisters were more united and less divided than at any other time in modern Black-America.  We may not have had all of the same ideologies, social-statuses or political beliefs but, by collectively presenting ourselves with the same likenesses of each other we were one people, one front, one power.  There were braids and processed hair but, when a group of large Afro-Blacks were around, they were noticed, feared, accepted by some and rejected by many. Soul Train brought all of these elements together under one roof and on one dance floor, we were One Nation Under A Groove and One Nation of people, under the studio lights of the Soul Train.

Almost 40 years ago, during one of the most transitional times in our nation, African-Americans were able to pack up their cares and take the hippest trip in America every weekend on the “Soul Train. ~ Shirea L. Carroll

 

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Comments
  1. Hope says:

    Loving it Jerel and so true.

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