[FOUNTAIN]Black power vs. racismAfter a long time the words "black power" have made an appearance again. At the Academy Awards on Monday, both the best actor and best actress Oscars went to African-American actors.
The words "black power" came together with the phrase "flower power" in the 1960s and became parts of the radical political movement of the era in the United States. "Black" was, of course, a reference to skin shade, while flowers were the symbols of the hippie era of youth, love and tolerance. Both were symbols of rebellion against a society in which neither blacks nor youth were represented.
The man who made me think again about black power is Malcolm X, whose role Denzel Washington played in the movie "Malcolm X." He was nominated for an Oscar in 1992 for that role.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little, but he shed the surname that he saw as a symbol of slavery and adopted the letter X as a symbol of his lost heritage. This all happened when he was in jail and decided to fight for the rights of black people. He joined the Black Muslim movement in 1947. In his fight against whites, he chose a religion that stood against Christendom, which in his eyes was the symbol of white supremacy. He became a radical extremist, and preached to fellow blacks to throw off the yoke of the white race. But in 1965, he died at the hands of extremists of his own organization.
Stokely Carmichael, a black student leader who was influenced by Malcolm X, made the words "black power" famous. As the leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, he traveled to Africa and then started to preach against white supremacy in American society. He called on his fellow African-Americans to uplift themselves. "Being black is beautiful," he said, telling blacks to stop copying white culture and stand on their own. "Black power" style handshakes and South African style dashiki dress became a fashion. The novel "Roots," by Alex Haley, another expression of black power, won a Pulitzer Prize in the 1970s.
Nevertheless, when Halle Berry, a black actress who won the Oscar for best actress, said, "This moment is for the nameless, faceless women of color," she was suggesting that, despite the long presence of black power, African-Americans have had a difficult time in Hollywood.
It is ironic that some racially-proud Koreans dislike blacks and East Asians with darker skin tones. That is despite the fact that Koreans themselves sometimes experience discrimination overseas.
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo
by Oh Byung-sang