The song “Young, Gifted and Black” was written by Weldon Irvine and sang by the high priestess of soul Nina Simone. The song was in dedication to Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), a dear friend of Nina Simone whom passed away when she was 34. Simone told Irvine she wanted lyrics that, “will make black children all over the world feel good about themselves forever.”
Nina Simone was the reason I created the t-shirt for my brand some years ago and my motivation was the same as hers. After traveling all over the country vending at various venues and working a cart at the mall I notice a recurring pattern with some white people. These particular people are uncomfortable, bothered and offended by “Young, gifted and black” being on a t-shirt. However, it’s not just that shirt…it’s any shirt with the word black when it pertains to black pride. I find this interesting being that the word “Black” was a word that was used to demean, degrade and strip us of our self esteem for a very long time. We took it and turned it into something to empower ourselves and the hatred shows all over racists faces.
Black pride t-shirts are not the problem, the words “young, gifted and black” are not the problem, it is your inability to stand in your own personal power that is the problem. White racism reeks of insecurity and an inferiority complex that has been passed off as power. White pride is built from a foundation of hatred and the sustainability of white privilege. Black pride was created from the need to feel decent and human in a society that we are constantly dehumanized in.
Navigating in white spaces such as these is annoying because I have to deal with this type of ignorance constantly. However, I am not the least bit intimidated by your stares as a matter of fact I welcome them because when we lock eyes you see no fear here. You huff, puff and point and react in despair when I don’t react. As for now I am supposed to be here and the discomfort that my brand brings to this space is not my burden to carry, it’s all yours.