Black History Month is an opportunity for respectable negroes to wallow in the muddied waters that is the politics of Black authenticity.
To that end, we live a lie. We pretend to like certain types and examples of music, culture, books, historical figures, etc. in order to be deemed sufficiently Black. Because of our love/hate affair with this most auspicious of months in the negro pantheon of holidays, we are forced to live a lie. No longer.
Behold! we have created a safe space where you can let down your guard. Here, in this most private and anonymous of spaces you can surrender, you can unburden yourself, and lay forth those secret shames that threaten to compromise your Black authenticity.
James Brown is the patron saint of all Black people for he is the one figure whose greatness we can all agree upon. Ultimately, James Brown is a unifier--a greatest common denominator--that transcends the diversity that is the tribe of respectable negroes and it is to him that we give our secret shames.
Come my brothers and sisters, enter the Church of James Brown and share your pain as you preface your offerings with the following prayer as we mark the end of Black History Month in the year 2009:
"Oh most amazing James Brown, greatest of all negroes, I offer you my lies and secret shames. All these years I have yearned to share those things which I have pretended to like and adore in the name of being authentically Black. I cast my words into the wind so that you can take our secrets and make these shames unintelligible as you sing them for all time in your unique and spirited language."
As an example for all of you, I will be the first to share three of my secret shames:
I, Chauncey DeVega, do not like black eyed peas.
I, Chauncey DeVega, do not like the television miniseries Roots.
I, Chauncey DeVega, do not like the Black Church.
Come my friends and unburden yourself!