MY JOURNEY FROM PEBBLE BEACH TO WAKANDA
by Yvonne Thomas
February is Black History Month. And my month started in the media room at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. As one of the few black female credentialed golf journalists covering PGA Tour events, I am proud to be a trailblazer and a role model for other black aspiring reporters interested in working in a field that is considered to be non-traditional for African Americans.
February 2018 is also the month when the highly anticipated BLACK PANTHER movie debuted on screens breaking multiple box office records over the 4-day holiday weekend. The blockbuster film united audiences of all races and acted as an immense source of ancestral pride for black people worldwide.
I am one of those people who walked out of the movie with extra pep in my step this past weekend. As a journalist, I enjoy reading critiques from other writers, and the movie is receiving rave reviews from just about everyone. But I started to notice comments on social media and by some legitimate journalists who were having trouble understanding why black people are flying so high about a movie that was no doubt entertaining, but in the end, it’s not real. They were quick to point out that Wakanda, the East African nation where BLACK PANTHER is based, is indeed fictional. It seemed that some people were going out of their way to let us know that, “Y’all can enjoy this Wakanda stuff all you want, but you know it ain’t real.”
While it is true that we are the descendants of slaves, it is essential that we also speak loudly about the fact that before slavery existed, there was Africa. And Africa, my friends, is very real.
Africa. A wealthy continent.
Rich with natural elements and resources like diamond and gold mines that are extremely valuable commodities.
A continent rich with culture, and rich with the history and heritage of self-sufficient, thriving independent nations inhabited by millions of people of color.
So what happened?
How have so many been brainwashed to believe the stereotype that our ancestors were impoverished, illiterate, uneducated, and in desperate need of help to take care of ourselves?
It is time for that stereotype to die.
It is time for us to acknowledge and reclaim our true heritage.
It is time to spread the word about our history.
It is time to change the narrative of every person who has that one drop of African blood running through his or her veins, and who has been programmed to believe that implications of having that one drop automatically assigned them to a lower status. The damage that implication has done to the psyche and mentality of generations of our people is absolutely astounding.
And it still exists today.
That one drop of sub Saharan African blood ties us historically not only to slavery, but it ties us to royalty, educators, healthcare professionals, politicians, bankers, attorneys, and golfers and golf writers as well.
Let that last sentence resonate deep inside you. Because it is way past time to reverse this damage.
If you haven’t seen BLACK PANTHER yet, I encourage you to go. Now! And to my people, hold your heads high.
Carry yourselves with the pride and self-esteem that has been buried deep beneath the surface because history books are derelict in their depiction of our entire story. They are guilty of omitting significant parts of our heritage which has systemically caused damage to the pride, dignity, and self-worth of generations of our people. And it has allowed our oppressors and their descendants to perpetuate a false notion of superiority.
But the truth will always set you free.
It is time that we learn about ALL of our heritage. We are descended from brilliance! Believe it. And never doubt it again. Let this be a revelation that changes how you look at yourself in the mirror. How you carry yourself when you walk into a room. How YOU see yourself is the first critical step in changing how others see you.
The Black national anthem teaches us to Lift Every Voice and Sing. And the final line of that song, “True to our God, True to our native land” implores us to see Africa in its entirety. Not the abbreviated footnote written in the past by biased colonizers and in the present by arrogant, hubristic individuals who insult, degrade, and minimize the achievements of these great nations by profanely referring to them as “shitholes”. Stop waiting for these people to come to their senses and treat us with respect. That tactic will only work if they already had some semblance of common sense to begin with. The BLACK PANTHER movie has allowed us an enormous opportunity to be seen as we should be seen, and the words of these people, past and present, do not have the power to undermine our credibility or our accomplishments.
I am proud to say that I can identify with both Pebble Beach and Wakanda. What do YOU identify with? Don't be afraid to expand your horizons, dip your toe outside of your box and explore opportunities when they present themselves. Go out and find your Wakanda!
WHAT IS THE URBAN GOLF SUMMIT?
The biennial Urban Golf Summit brings together golfers and professionals from all over the country to network, golf, and enjoy the sights of the spectacular Monterey Peninsula coastline. In 2019, it will also be a part of the city of Seaside’s Black History month celebration.
Presented by YGolf Magazine, the Seaside Post News Sentinel, and the California Sea-Kings ABA Basketball team, the Summit is designed to continue spreading the word of golf to minorities and women throughout the United States and to increase their opportunities for more involvement and inclusion.
A portion of the funds from this event will be donated to local charities on the Monterey Peninsula.
FOR MORE DETAILS, CLICK ON THE URBAN GOLF SUMMIT PAGE IN THE MENU.