Thursday, February 2, 2012

Take Your Ride, King Don Cornelius!

By Queen Mother Imakhu

Saturday mornings in the Seventies held the comfort of our Black Hipness after a week of being the ongoing experimental children of Segregation. With the flip of a dial, suddenly, the appearance of ultra cool Uncle Don Cornelius announcing that we had once again boarded the "hippest trip in America" made the madness of living in a force fitted white world a mockery. Our cultural grooves were glorified. Our sass. Our struts. Our rhythms and rules. Our fashion and funk. Affirming all was right with OUR world.

Don Cornelius entered this life on September 27, 1936. Sadly, it was reported on Feb. 1, 2012, the first day of Black History Month, that Don Cornelius was found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. 

This news rocked our Black community. Why? Don Cornelius and Soul Train stood for and gave us confidence in our culture. Was it with assurance that Uncle Don pulled the trigger to check out? Considering that he, according to rumors, suffered severe health problems, it would seem that he left here consistent with his image - deciding how his own ride would end, and how his new journey would begin.

My only hope is that he left here fully aware of the enormous impact he had on our people. He, in his boldness to create a TV program that showcased the hip side of popular Black culture that "we" knew about - the side that showed up the kids on American Bandstand - rekindled the pride in Black teen youth during times when we were reaching for affirmation. Practicing our dance steps in our own Soul Train Dance Lines. Running out to buy the latest LPs from the showcased artists. And knowing that the sophisticated, soulful bops, swoops, curves, and lilts in our majestic movements were natural and correct - we had weekly proof! In spite of whatever the white gym teachers said, or the cruel white kids who ganged up on us and because of our differences. Or the occasional comments from white parents, or other educators...  As the experimental children of integration of the Sixties and Seventies, we valiantly put up with slights, suffering indignities, often without a voice. But on Saturday mornings, we spoke, we laughed, we danced, we listened, we watched. And we walked taller.

Thank you, Uncle Don, for your unapologetic Blackness. We crowned you King long ago. Ride on. You can bet yo' last money, it all was a stone gas, Honey.

(Youtube video by The Bacmaster)