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    1. #1
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow Ode to Richard Pryor


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      Ode to Richard Pryor

      by Dr. Edward Rhymes
      Guest Commentator

      "As long as the colored man look to white folks to put a crown on what
      he say.... as long as he looks to white people for approval... then he
      ain't never gonna find out who he is and what he's about" – August Wilson Jr.
      If Helen of Troy is "the face that launched a thousand ships," then
      Richard Pryor is the voice that launched a thousand comedians and
      artists of every hue. He not only made people laugh, but he inspired others to
      make people laugh. However, Rich's greatest contribution to society at
      large and the Black community in particular, was his courage to address
      societal ills with his unique brand of humor and insight, without
      apology or regret.

      Click here for printer friendly version of Pryor cartoon. Even when his routine was generously sprinkled with "Nigger" and "bitch," he was laying down a vocabulary of empowerment. A lexicon that minimized the impact of white oppression and contextualized the struggle. Rich made it clear, he made it real and his humor made it bearable. Rich took the dialogue of the street corner, the barbershop, the Black church, the Black family and the Black community and aimed it at mainstream America with laser-like focus – revealing white America's true thoughts and intentions about race and racism without even trying to.

      That was the true social genius of Richard Pryor. He was the incidental activist, the disaffected philosopher. He concerned himself first and foremost with answering the question: Is it funny? All else, in regard to his craft, was secondary. However, the fact that his humor was steeped in social significance, tells us volumes about the man. Rich was also the first
      male comedian, Black, white or otherwise, who gave a real voice to
      women in his comedy. In Pryor's routines, women gave every bit as good as
      they got. For all the rants about his self-indulgences, addictions and
      misogynistic leanings, his humor was a shining example of equality in a
      society rife with inequities.

      Rich understood human nature and tendencies. He was one of America's
      foremost social critics (something he has never truly been given credit
      for). Rich's satirical insights kept the issues of race relations and
      racism front and center when the Civil Rights movement had begun to
      lose its steam. In the face of Nixon-repression and the conservative
      backlash, he was to the Black community what musicals were to Depression-era white America – he kept us singing, believing and hoping. He was the Harlem Renaissance resurrected, telling our own stories on our own terms.

      In his tour de force, Which Way Is Up, Richard weaved together issues
      such as internalized oppression, institutional and systemic racism, worker's rights and feminism in one seamless, comedic (yet thought provoking) tapestry. At the end of the movie, homeless, jobless, without family or friends, the hero finds his dignity and himself – only Richard Pryor could give such an ending any semblance of poise. But then again, that was quintessential Pryor. Letting the chips fall where they might, showing every facet of the experience, warts and all. No other actor or comedian has surpassed or even equaled that performance. Richard Pryor,
      in many ways, was a prophet. He told the truth about white folks, black
      folks, men, women and most importantly…himself.

      In my internet search of articles that referenced Richard Pryor and his
      work, I came across Answers.com (http://www.answers.com/topic/richard-pryor). In their very brief
      summary of the man and his work, they stated that he was best known as "the comedian who set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine." Such a slap
      in the face, such a total disregard for the profundity of an
      individual's work, would usually elicit some anger, but here's the punch line: Rich would have genuinely laughed at this. Did Answers.com think that
      somehow we would forget about Rich's indiscretions? There was never a chance of that happening because Rich himself wouldn't let us forget. He opened wide the front door (and the bedroom door as well), pulled back the
      curtains and raised the shade in the house where his demons, vices and
      transgressions lived. Rich, without fail, beat everyone to the punch
      and initiated the dialogue about his own shortcomings. He was enigmatic in
      the sense that he gave us as Black folk the confidence to be vulnerable

      in other words, human. It was like he was saying: "They ain't no better
      than us, so don't be afraid to be flawed. Don't be afraid to be
      imperfect" Rich's death caused me to reflect on what is missing from the current debates about supposed Black anti-intellectualism, the supposed lack of Black initiative and the denouncement of the Hip-Hop generation. In his
      comedic riffs and social commentary, the Black community did not escape
      his sometimes scathing insights and yet he was never condemned of
      "sellin' out" or "airing our collective dirty laundry".

      And one has to ask, Why not? Simply put, his declarations were free of the animus of the Cosby's and other Black elites who attack the Black poor and Black youth; his indictments were liberated from the arrogance of the McWhorters and Condoleezzas who continually minimize the role that race and racism play in the affairs of Black folk. He told us the truth like a loyal friend
      and not as a venomous and jilted ex-lover with an axe to grind. Rich
      was humble, he never failed to see himself through the same lens he saw
      everything and everyone else. It was this quality that caused the Black
      community not to excuse his offenses, but to give our full
      understanding to them and him.

      Historically, isn't that same understanding that we have accorded our
      geniuses? Did the madness of Mozart make people forget his mastery of
      music? Did the insanity of Van Gogh, make the brilliance of his art null
      and void? Was Hemingway's work silenced because of the manifestations
      of a tortured and troubled soul? So why should we be any less celebratory
      of a man who did so much to affirm and legitimize the Black American
      experience?

      Richard Pryor's mortal frame has fallen, never to rise again, but what
      he has left behind will continue to endure as long as the Black community
      and America exists. Goodnight, goodbye and most importantly and
      sincerely, thank you Rich. Edward Rhymes is the Director of Race Relations and Advocacy of the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh. He can be reached at edwardrhymes@yahoo.com.
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    2. #2
      Mosi Ngozi's Avatar
      Mosi Ngozi is offline Pan-Afrikanist

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      Richard Pryor was a genius. And yes he was flawed as were so many men who had a superior intelligence. Nor was he ashamed of how he lived his life.No matter how yt might try to belittle the greatness of our good brother Richard Pryor we know he was a genius andhonerty real 24-7. RIP.
      You are here because you know something,what you
      know you can't explain,but you feel it.You've felt it
      your entire life; that theres something wrong with the
      world.You don't know what it is but it's there; a
      splinter in your mind... the matrix




    3. #3
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow


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      Greetings bigdaddiej!

      Richard was a genius in his own right. He made us laugh when so many of us wanted to cry.

      He always found a way to help ease the pain of our existence by putting it in such a way that we could reflect and be real about our experiences as a people.

      I agree with you Richard was real 24/7/365. He had flaws as all of us do, but he never let that stop him from the best at what he did. He would surely be missed.

      Peace & Blessings!
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    4. #4
      MsLioness's Avatar
      MsLioness is offline Administrator

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      Humor IS in our spirit. We love to love. I was watching this documentary on Richard Pryor a couple of months ago. I guess it was one of his last stand-up preformances. It was after tryin to commit suicide and coke problems... he said he visited Afrika. When he seen his people, he realized, at that moment... there were no "niggas" there, just beautiful people. And he admitted about the many times he used the "n-word" and from that day on, he would never utilize it again. That is wonderful. When Dave Chappell went looney for the moment a couple of months ago, his psychiatrist recommeded that he should visit Afrika... and he did... he alright now (besides that lawsuit against him). Afrika is where we belong....

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