I have more to report on Ali’s legacy. In the 1960s many blacks felt they were ugly in comparison to white Americans. All the media portrayed blues eyes, long straight blond hair, and narrow noses as the epitome of beauty. I remember experiencing myself not as beautiful. I recall the people around me as experiencing themselves as not really beautiful.
But I want to be clear, we had our own standards as to who was fine. We were not completely dependent on white standards of beautiful for sure. But truth be told, we still embraced white standards of beauty for the most part.
Ali beat up white folks (blacks ones too) and strode to his corner of the ring and whipped out his Afro pick and maneuvered into place each strand of his unruly African heritage. Task finished, he declared “I am pretty.”
I will never forget the realization “well I guess I am pretty too.” Me and my generation came slowly to feel the same vibe. Thanks Ali for freeing us from white western standards of beauty. We ain’t looked backed. Well, for the most part we ain’t looked back. Long live Ali’s Afro pick and his sense that there existed many manifestations of beauty in this world.