Our MCM today was a pioneering black satirist, civil rights activist, writer, comedian and entrepreneur. A great pillar in the black community whose intelligence and wit could fill a ‘whitehouse’, this man whom passed this Saturday (19th August 2017) will certainly be missed. His influence and legacy will live forever more in the lives of those wise enough to seek knowledge and understanding as did he, I present to you; the late great Dick Gregory.
Mr Gregory was a no holds-barred type of gentleman of great reasoning “Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren’t allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does.” It was this very comment and many like this which propelled him further into barrier breaking territory.
One of Gregory’s first allies was Hugh Hefner whom hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club.
After this, Gregory began appearing nationally and on television, but it was not handed to him easily. In fact, Gregory declined several invitations from On Tonight Starring Jack Parr because although black comics were already performing on the show; none were ever invited to the couch to talk, eventually, in order to have Gregory perform the producers agreed to allow him to stay after his performance and talk with the host on air. This was a first in the show’s history.
It was this very type of blatant call out of injustice, that Gregory became synonymous for. Oh what a shame that Gregory’s run for President of the United States (1968) was unsuccessful, he was a voice that possessed enough whit and wisdom to call out the injustices and strongly power the changes for equality of races.Nonetheless, Gregory continued to spread this ever relevant stance to younger generations, for example – whilst giving a keynote Address for Black History Month at a college in 2013 Gregory’s take-away message to the students was to never accept injustice. Quoting Mr Gregory in a message that couldn’t be more relevant given the many unjust, ignorant events that have transpired recently, I’d like to remind all our GD’ers of this : “Once I accept injustice, I become injustice”. This is particularly important given the current state of the world, as many fear a reoccurrence of events that ancestors fought so hard to abolish. Stand up for something, or you will fall for anything.
To my Black Brothers and Sisters: Stop segregating yourselves by the hue of your melanin, or the texture of your crowns. You are Kings and Queens, be reminded that the most harmful form of slavery is mental. Seek knowledge, question the ‘norms’, search for understanding and practice patience. Use your positions, talents, words and wisdom to conquer injustice in unexpected ways. The ignorant are not innovators they are not aware of your many ancestors who fought ‘the good fight’, they will liken you to wild animals, instead show them that the caged bird sings and yet still you will rise. Promote unity, do not let the ignorant push us to divide in defence; there are many who are waiting for you to lead. Have patience with your whirs family whom hope to fight alongside you, appreciate their hearts that seek a better standard than false notions of supremacy. Above all take care of your armour/aura, fuel your bodies with better food and practices.
To my Woke White Cousins: You will not be applauded for you are not the heroes, you will be appreciated though for you are a part of a united family. Do not appropriate even with a sincere heart, cultural garments are not fancy dress, unless invited to do so please avoid watering down the stories behind these garments as many will only acknowledge your appearance not the history within the seams; instead honour cultures by educating others without the need of visuals. Open the minds of oppressors for you are the common ground. Lay yourselves bare to opinions/judgements and hold up your black family without ego / validation for many a time did their ancestors raise up yours with nothing but love and selflessness. You can ask questions to educate yourselves on history, but if you really want to help; then do just that HELP. You must have ideas and ideologies of a better world or you wouldn’t be reading this, you don’t need your hand held you are capable of finding solutions and presenting them to you Black Brethren. You are appreciated for you chose to live in fairness rather than propel fear. You have a beautiful inquisitive nature, your open mind will take you far; you don’t need a foot up because of the colour of your skin. Your mindset is leaps and bounds beyond the wrongs of your ancestors. No race is superior, this is a united effort for a better mankind. fyi: ‘you’re invited to the family bbq’s’.
In closing, let us honour the life and legacy of this great man by adopting the practices of his that aid a better way of living.
- Treat your body well and when illness arises research into holistic approaches that cover your entire wellbeing: Gregory was diagnosed with lymphoma in ’99, and believed that herbs, exercise and vitamins kept him in remission.
- Planted goods for prosperity and preservation: Since the 80’s Gregory had been an advocate for a raw fruit and vegetable diet, though this in its entirety may be difficult in certain environments; you can make healthier substitutions and let the results speak for themselves.
- Seek logical answers rather than settling for simple assumptions: In ’08, Gregory said he believed that air pollution and intentional water contamination with heavy metals such as lead and possibly manganese may be being used against black Americans, especially in urban neighborhoods, and that such factors could be contributing to high levels of violence in black communities. If something seems off, don’t oppose it half heartedly; having valid facts to support. Facts are harder to ignore for they will always be noted as ‘history’.
There is so much to be learnt from Richard ‘Dick’ Claxton Gregory, and I urge you all to seek further knowledge to support and uplift one and other and ‘make light’ in a very dark time, as Mr Gregory chose to do also.
Until next time be good to yourselves, kind to others and above all GROW DAILY.
Written by Karen Sherise