“Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.”
Taken from the last verse of the Negro National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” those lyrics framed the theme of the keynote address at Thursday’s African American History Month convocation.
Chanta Haywood, dean of Graduate Studies and Research, delivered the speech noting the problem with the black community is that its members are “drunk with the hard liquors of the world.”
“We have gotten so drunk off Hpnotiq that we cannot see that we are the last hired and the first fired,” Haywood said.
Mentioning other popular liquors such as Courvoisier, Tanqueray, E & J and Moonshine, Haywood said blacks don’t realize that new prisons being built represent another form of plantations.
“We are so drunk, so inebriated, so tore up with the hard liquors of the world, we cannot past our history sobriety test.”
Haywood said blacks tend to sober up when they are denied loans to buy a nice house in Killearn and pulled over for DWB (driving while black).
In the middle of her speech, Haywood pulled out a bag of coffee grinds.
“We need to brew them to the strength of double-shot espresso,” she said, “so we can sober up.”
Haywood charged students to not honor only famous black activists such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Harriet Tubman, but also everyday people.
“We also celebrate Auntie, Big Mama, Madea … Lil’ Bit, Pookie, and Nay-nay.”
Mixing history facts and present-day vernacular, Haywood advised students to resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol.
“I want you to be like Snoop and Pharell and ‘drop it like it’s hot,'” she said. “And when you drop it and look at it on the ground, I want you to do like Usher and ‘let it burn.'”
Haywood’s familiarity with popular Hip hop and R & B roused students as she continued to use the songs to make her points.
People are going to tell you you’re not smart and that you got a job only because of Affirmative Action, Haywood said.
“I want you to be like T.I. and say ‘you don’t know me.'”
Interim President Castell V. Bryant thanked Haywood for the challenges she presented before making some of her own.
After recognizing the women’s volleyball team for ranking in the top 25 in the nation last season, Bryant encouraged students to be the best that they can be and to take pride in themselves.
“You should take pride in who you are and what you look like,” Bryant said. “You are an attractive individual that is unique. Celebrate your uniqueness.”
Students were also urged to take black history beyond February.
“What’s going to happen beyond this month?” Haywood asked. “The red, green and black will come down, the speeches will be forgotten, the drummers will put away their drums and we will slap each other on the back for celebrating black history month.”
Tameka Hobbs, assistant professor in the Department of History, who delivered the occasion, said in remembering and commemorating the past, blacks should also look toward the future.
“We must always struggle to find oppression where it exists and work against it,” she said.
“Be mindful that the future is watching you now.”
Contact Diamond Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org