Tedx JC: Honoring West Africa's Influence on America

I woke up in tears for three days in a row after the Nov 8 election.  I'm sickened and enraged every day by the blatant racism from Trump supporters. A Canadian friend of mine has an interesting theory - that Trump's win is flushing hidden racism out into the open, where it can finally be lanced like the boil on America's ass that it is. 

I sure hope so. 

I was born in Florida to Southern parents. We moved north to Chicago when I was four, and I never heard the N word out of either of my parents. But on every visit back to Florida I heard it used casually and openly by whites. Often it was used as praise, like "My gardener Jim's a good n_____." He was subservient and always friendly and smiling, is what that meant. He knew his place. 

Years later, we hear these kinds of people refer to our brilliant, handsome President Obama as "an orangutan." After Trump's win, beautiful Michelle Obama was called "an ape in heels." 

Racists have always been my relatives. What you may be finding out since Nov 8 is that they are your relatives,  friends and colleagues, too. Emboldened now to speak their ugly minds.

As horrible as this is, and as much as it fills me with red-hot rage, it's good to know. The West Virginia nonprofit leader who made that disgusting remark about Michelle Obama lost her job, and the mayor who praised it has been forced to resign.

I say flush 'em out, and pick 'em off one at a time. 

I've tried to help fight racism by being very clear about the huge West African influence on American culture in my book The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu. If I had a dime for every time blues magazine editors told me "blues fans don't want to hear about that Africa stuff," well, I'd have a lot of dimes. 

I disagree - and that's why the Tedx talk I will deliver at Loew's Theater in Jersey City on Dec 3 is focused on "that Africa stuff." Keep scrolling for a little preview. Grab your tix here , RSVP on Facebook, and come cheer all the speakers on. The theme is GO...and go we must, forward, into a brighter, freer future for ALL Americans. 

Debra Devi - Tedx Jersey City- Why Do We Say "That's Cool"?

BB King is cool, right? 
“That’s cool.” 
“I dig it.” 
“That cat’s got soul.” 
We know these are American ideas. They didn’t come from Europe. 
But do we know they’re West African? 
Encoded within the blues are profound West African ideas about art and consciousness that have shaped the American soul. 
We learn in grade school that the Dutch named New York. And the French influenced American ideas of liberty. 
Well, the trans-Atlantic slave trade shipped 60,000 West African captives per year to the New World. They outnumbered European migrants by nearly five to one. But we learn very little about the huge influence they’ve had on us. 
When I was writing for blues magazines, I was told “Blues fans don’t want to hear that Africa stuff.” 

That really bugged me. From the Wolof word bugal, which means “to annoy.”' 

To hear the rest of my talk, come to TedxJC or SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel!!