The video attached is from a Key and Peele sketch, NegroTown. Key and Peele are comedians known for their social satirical abilities and ability to bring humor to any strong debate. In this particular sketch, “a black man who’s stopped by the police discovers that there’s a place to escape racism: Negrotown.” Although portrayed for comedic purposes, the sketch does a great job of exposing the daily struggles many blacks face in America, as well as, where Negrotown is believed to be versus were it’s actually at. I find this interesting because of the role comedy has historically played in the oral storytelling of black history in North America. Comedians today are not shy to make jokes in regard to strong political issues because it makes it a easier pill to swallow.
Although I will say, the video does have some inappropriate language, viewer discretion is advised.
Key & Peele – NegroTown Video
After talking about the “Double V” campaign during World War 2, I was interested in learning a bit more. I found a few interesting facts and quotes that I never knew such as:
1. The Pittsburgh Courier went on to say in its’ February 14th article, “We, as colored Americans are determined to protect our country, our form of government and the freedoms which we cherish for ourselves and the rest of the world, therefore we have adopted the Double ‘V’ war cry—victory over our enemies at home and victory over our enemies on the battlefields abroad. Thus in our fight for freedom we wage a two-pronged attack against our enslavers at home and those abroad who will enslave us.
2. WE HAVE A STAKE IN THIS FIGHT…WE ARE AMERICANS, TOO!” Not only did the campaign gather blacks together in support of racial equality, but afforded them the opportunity to feel part of a bigger struggle for freedom everywhere. It was more similar to the Black lives matter movement than I thought.
3.The shared struggles of black America were also felt by black service men in the armed forces. According to Lawrence P. Scott, a black airman in the 99th, and an eventual Tuskegee Airman, “every man in the 99th was aware that the success of the 99th would impact the status of blacks in the Army Air Force and the army as a whole and that each man performed his job as if the race depended on him.”
The link to the full article where I got this information is: https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/4682
In January of 2018, the College of Wooster witnessed a public demonstration against its own administration on its own campus. The demonstration was in the form of a more impromptu walkout and laid back sit-in. Students were sent mass texts to leave class 10 minutes early and to meet in front of Kauke, where they would be greeted with student leaders handing out pins and giant speakerphones playing music. Afterwards, students walked to the administration building–not without a few pictures from the school’s professional photographer. After students filed into the building, the demands were read aloud, students were encouraged to post on social media. The sit-in began. Students were served drinks by the administration staff, given the opportunity to leave and come back, and engaged in light conversation and games until the sit ended that night.
Now, what does a traditional sit-in look like? Historically, sit-ins were serious and somber, with students locked in a building for hours, refusing to leave until the last of their demands were met. These demands were often concise, and the student leaders who negotiated them were relentless. The Gaplin Sit-In, however, was a different type of sit-in. In a new age, very few things are kept the same– public demonstrations included. The main purpose of civil disobedience was to make enough noise, so those in charge were forced to make a change. In this age, that noise can be made with a few Instagram posts, Snapchat stories, and tweets. But how effective can this be? Such a question can only be answered with 20-20 vision, so Wooster students must wait to see how effective the Gaplin Sit-In was. The one result that is instant, however, is the hope and inspiration the sit-in stirred in others. One can say confidently, that no matter how effective the sit-in was, it was far from a waste of time.
Last week, the College of Wooster had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Kathleen Cleaver– a prominent member of the Black Panther Party. During her lecture, Cleaver spoke on her involvement in the party as well as the party’s international involvement and advocacy.
When discussing local involvement in the Black Panther party, Cleaver expressed the community’s tenacity to joining the party. At this point in Black civil rights, African Americans were more than willing to join an organization that practiced civil disobedience through public demonstrations and lectures. This tenacity can be contrasted with the Black community’s apprehension towards civil disobedience in the 1940s. During the 1940s, civil disobedience tactics were the topic of debate, as prominent Black figures discussed the shift from litigation to civil disobedience. On one hand, litigation supporters stated that the slow-and-steady pace of the legal system was the best tactic in order to avoid racial violence. Civil disobedience supporters, however, stated the slow-and-steady pace of the legal system was too slow, and public demonstrations were more effective. For that particular time, it cannot be said which tactic was more effective. However, by the 1960s, civil disobedience became widely practiced, present as the driving force for many organizations–including the Black Panthers.
The second driving force of the Black Panther party is the idea of global Black power. The concept of Black power was not of Black superiority, but rather Black freedom to determine one’s future. This idea was not contained to just the United States. The Black Panther party incited a global Black power movement that mirrors that of the rise of pan-Africanism following World War I. Just as Blacks across the globe realized their oppression and connected through their shared experiences around 1915, people of color around the globe connected in the 1960s.
Going over the primary sources, I found myself caught between choosing a side between Hughes’ and Schuyler’s arguments in terms of how to represent black art. On my initial read, I thought they both made good points. While it is important to establish an identity in culture, does doing so imply that there is a difference between races? And if so, does that mean that one is inherently inferior? But especially today, I do know how important it is for a race to establish an identity in mainstream culture, and how important it is for them to cling to that. I think that that is why I eventually sided with Langston Hughes over Schyler. While the idea that a black artist should just be considered just an artist, I think that it is more important for a race to find their own identity among themselves. The Harlem renaissance allowed black Americans to stake a claim in their own world and gave the community something to rally behind. Saying that they are the same as any other artist takes that away from them, and does more harm for the community than good.