One person's thoughts may change the world
Kunta Kinte is the real life character from Alex Haily’s book, Roots. Taken into slavery, but never forgetting his African Roots, and would not accept his slave name, Toby. He ran away many times, and given the choice of getting emasculated or having part of his foot chopped off, he chose his foot (according to the TV version of book). In television, as in real life, brother’s have to deal with being emasculated, to appease their white counterparts perceived and false impression of a brother’s manhood. I have seen this happen in the business world many times.
It’s a shame that Alex Haily’s work is tainted by the following admission:
After a five-week trial in federal district court, Courlander and Haley settled the case, with Haley making a financial settlement of $650,000, and issuing a statement that “Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from The African by Harold Courlander found their way into his book Roots.”
I was a little upset by that revelation, but, that’s not why I’m writing this. The example of Kunta Kinte is very, very relevant to me. Not all will appreciate or understand it, but, deep down inside, I ask myself, am I Kunta, or, am I Toby. This question reveals itself to me when I see a good friend of mine at several gatherings throughout the year, and we greet each other with big smiles, a hug, and a whisper, “Are you Kunta, or are you Toby”. We do this with a fake African accent, giving some humor to what is actually a very serious question. You see, we both have had businesses in the computer industry, and have done business together before. When we both were in business, there was no question to ask, it was always a comment after a conversation, “later Kunta”, or “Be strong Kunta”.
Let me tell you, when you’re in business on your own, it’s tough being Kunta. Come on too strong, and your business may not flourish. If you try to be Toby, you may appear weak, and emasculated and once again, your business may suffer. It’s a precarious role. The same role the President of the United States has come under fire recently during the recent oil spill crisis in the gulf. Many have asked, “Where is his emotion, where is his anger?”. Well Obama is well schooled, he knows he has to keep that precarious balance of being calm, even when he is supposed to be angry. He has yet to show his Kunta, for fear, and might I say a “Toby” fear, of being labeled, “The evil Black Man”.
The only real place where Kunta is tolerated is in the arena of sports, yet, it is still a tough balance. Be too loud or boisterous, you’ll be labeled a team problem, someone who cannot keep their mouth closed ( Terrell Owens comes to mind). But, be too quiet, and you’ll be accused of not stepping up and providing leadership on your team. Once again, a tough balance.
Michel Steel of the Republican National party tries to be Kunta. But Mike’s real problem is, he is emasculated. And now, even those in his own party ranks don’t respect him. I mean, what do you think? are you going to put up another black man or person of color( Bobby Jindal) as a weak showing that you have some kind of diversity in your party? Please. Those pics are the result of Kunta Obama, not the making of themselves, once again, Toby.
Martin Luther King Jr. was accused of being Toby, while Malcolm X was labeled Kunta. King was too soft while Malcolm was too hard. No happy medium and both unfortunately met their fate by an assassin. In my opinion, they both were Kunta.
I may be sounding reflective because I may have an opportunity to be Kunta again. I have been Toby for some time now, with only flashes of Kunta. Sometimes life forces these roles upon you, but the best think about it is, I HAVE BEEN KUNTA BEFORE. So with that said, I will have to work my way through this process, and get to that point where I’ll have to make that choice. Kunta, or Toby.
It’s an easy choice to make, but only Kunta can make it, otherwise you’re destine to be Toby…Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of brothers out there, caring for their families, working hard, and, are Toby. Some don’t know any other way. Some know the way but don’t take it. Some have done it, more than once, retrenched and done it again with great results. Kunta.
THere is a sport term, “I got to get my mojo back”. It’s so true, sometimes no matter how hard you try, your mojo may not show up that day you’re suppose to be on you “A” game. Well, that’s when you have to do deep within your soul, and fight through your human frailties and pull that courage out of you, which we all have. COURAGE is the final denominator on whether you’re going to be Kunta. Kunta P…Kunta…