Food For Thought

'A Peculiar People with a Content of Character'


A Black History Perspective

by Malcolm Ames, Contributing Columnist

Malcolm Ames

At two score and 11 years of age, for the first time in my life, someone has approached me for a personal perspective on my being “Black”; my viewpoint of Black history; my insight into the past, present, and future pilgrimage of the Afro-American, Aframerican, Negro, Negrito, Negroid, Colored, Black People — a nation of people brought to this country in cattle cargo ships, dispersed throughout the world from the motherland culture and foundation of Africa by its kings and queens, trade lords and distributors, supply and demand, and the economically greedy masters of slavery; survivors of long, filthy, diseased voyages under extreme traveling conditions to this continent of North America; survivors of illiteracy, tribal communication barriers and degradation of human character. Simply put, slaves, much like the Jews were to Egyptians, we Blacks were (and sometimes still are) slaves to America .


 “… but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light …” 1 Peter 2.9


This biblical quote is the foundation I would give to the perspective of our nation as a people. I would like to share with you a few reflections from other Black/Afro-Americans, 15-50 years of age, on their perspectives of the culture of being Black.


“… Being labeled Black or anything besides human is overrated. People should be judged by their merit and not the way they look …”

“To be a Black man in America ; it means that I have freedom to make choices due to the struggles of many others before me.”


“… One has to have a sense of pride. Our people have suffered and conquered throughout the time of civilization. The blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors were not wasted for us to relapse into bondage. We must cling to our roots. My generation today is reaping the rewards of a great Black race that would not have settled for second-class treatment.”


“…  I would have to say it means that I am a solid spirit with a strong heart, a very determined creature of God with the power of a farm mule, the persistence of a teenager, the potential of a prince, and the knowledge of which I educate myself.”


“… My perspective of being Black isn’t always a great thing to be proud of. I believe I am a mixture of personalities and cultures made from God’s own image on the outside, but my color doesn’t matter to me. Under some circumstances, I am somewhat proud of being different from everyone else, but other times, I look at my race and wonder why have and do so many bad things happen to our people in this world.”


“What is being Black? Being Black is everything that everyone wants to be, and everything no one wants to be, all at the same time. You decide for yourself what being Black is.”

“… In my case, I ‘hang’ with a group of very diverse people. Yet, the discussions of race and religion are still brought up. Why are they still brought up? Racism and discrimination are a part of the present almost as much as the past. Can’t people just get along without race having anything to do with it?”


“Being Black is truly just being another individual with a darker skin tone.”


From these men and women, let me conclude with my perspective of being Afro-American/Black. Since the dawn of time, we have heard of two “races” being heavily persecuted: Jews and Black (Americans) — we all know that, really, there are two types of people, “good and evil.” We think human nature leans toward evil, but we also have the ability to choose good. By rejecting acts of wrong toward one another and looking to support our fellow man, we can rise above the evils of prejudice and discrimination.

To be accepted in America with a deeper skin tone than white is hard. When we see something different or not normal, we begin to discriminate. We judge the outside of the man without considering inner character. We aren’t comfortable with things that are different, peculiar, or not “normal” to us. The question is, what’s normal? To many Americans, normal means not being a nerd, weird, foreign, or simply just not being different. But the truth is, no such thing as “normal” exists. We are created in the image of God’s mind, body, and soul; we are “…a peculiar people with a content of character.”

Mary McLeod Bethune, Fredrick Douglas, Martin Anderson, George Washington Carver, Sir Clifford Campbell, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Douglas Wilder, and Dr. Robert C. Weaver are just a few Black success stories. From Black culture have come inventions from the ironing board and traffic lights, to dryers, washing machines and combs — “peculiar people with character.”


Being Black in America is the beauty of being bold, brilliant, believers in ourselves, and believers of God’s word. 

Learning to live, long-lasting relationships, and love in a cultural society that accepts or denies one because of skin tone. 

Acceptance with auspicious assessments and new aspirations, no matter how hard the task. Conscious conscientious objectors to the challenge of being peculiar with a content of undeniable character. 

Knowledge increased by practical and theoretical instruction maximized by God’s Holy Ghost Power.


Martin Luther King once referenced “… A dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” My three children see themselves in a nation still fighting to reach this plateau of truth and freedom. Black people, my people, my children, my wife, and I, are the “… peculiar people with a content

of character …”


Editor’s Note: Malcolm Ames is a director-at-large for Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC). He lives in Gainesville with his wife and three children. He is a pastor, adolescent counselor, and funeral-service licensee. He has been a NOVEC member for 22 years.  


What’s Your View?

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