Niagara Gazette

February 7, 2014

HAMILTON: Soul food, white knuckles and Kardashian tans

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Why do we have a Black History Month?

Why don’t you wonder why our local supermarkets have aisles that are marked Asian, Italian and Hispanic foods, but none that say African or Soul Foods? 

Have you ever felt so brave and confident on a roller coaster or on a fast dropping airplane that you described the experience as having a black-knuckle experience?

Of course not; and even though I have had some rather hairy experiences in which I had held on for dear life, I have never had a “white-knuckle” experience. 

Another thing, have you ever saw or hear something that thoroughly amused you so much so that you were tickled brown? 

That’s cool. I have had some of the same experiences and I wasn’t tickled pink, either. When I am embarrassed, I do not turn red; but I understand it when whites use such terms to describe themselves.

In the Zoom/Kardashian tan commercial, one of the formerly white girls said that everybody looks better with a tan, and everyone should want one; yet, I don’t see a bunch of black women out on the beach trying to get one, or lying in the snow trying to lighten up.

Blacks in this country are inundated with subtle messages that directly relates to whites, but not to us. If we mention too often that we are black, then we are being racist. But you can proclaim the fact that you are Irish as often as you want, and that is alright — because Irish is a white ethnicity and black ain’t, well, nothing but a race, so it seems.

And how long do you think that Volkswagen of yours will last? Will it last as long as the pyramids of northern Africa?

I doubt it; and so I wonder how a company could market a product with the ethnic superior tagline of, “The power of German engineering”? Are all Germans really better than all others? 

Can a black person not be able to engineer an automobile as good as a German; or we just haven’t heard about any blacks that have done so?

Can a German not be black, like the first Volkswagens were?

There are so many race-based expressions in our great American lexicon that if I recited them all I’d turn blue in the face – if I were not already brown; and yet people take exception to the one month that they can take pleasure in ignoring.

Black History Month is more than an opportunity for Europeans and Asians to learn of the great things that blacks have done under the most arduous of conditions; it is also an opportunity for blacks to either be reminded or learn for ourselves. All societies build upon their known history, and when we can archeologically find and reassemble the shattered pieces of our own foundations, then we can more fully enjoy and contribute to everyone’s successes.

If we build higher by building on the accomplishments of those who have gone before us, then black Americans must use the information that we learn about our collective ancestors during Black History Month pour into the ears and minds of our own children, so that they can believe, do and exceed the exploits of those same collective ancestors.

It is that most non-black Americans know of their history and of who their father’s father is or was. Their climb is much easier as a result. Given what our grandfathers and grandmothers had to go through in their lifetimes, just to maintain, will amaze you. We should know more about them than we know of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and George Washington Carver.

It is through such that we can build some sort of positive historical monument of our own; something that is for your family, community, state and nation; despite your local supermarket having no food section that caters to your ethnic culture.

We can do it — because Americans build upon our strengths, and black History Month is one of them.

Contact Ken Hamilton at

Contact Ken Hamilton at