Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Plight of African-Americans

Yesterday, during a long walk along the water of Campeche, Mexico, I took my thoughts back home to the United States; more so to the inner-cities of America. I, normally on accounts, am accustomed to taking such walks throughout neighborhoods so this one was no different.

            During the walk, I began to think about the plight of African-Americans in America. For years, spanning decades, America has experienced the strength of blacks. Blacks have been freeing other blacks from slavery and speaking against the injustices of such an institution for many years. We’ve fought in wars, orchestrated protests, revolutionized medicine, and captivated the entertainment world. But now as I look back on all of our accomplishments, I ask myself, “what now?”

            Black progression has come to a halt, and has leveled off, if not declined. I walk through these communities, and wonder such thoughts. I see hopefulness, but I also see content. I see potential, but I also see lack of motivation. I notice gentrification processes going on, yet no one seems to ponder how they are going to be affected.

            Through one lens, I reconcile with the effect that an unjust America has had and, in many cases, still have on African-Americans. Through another lens, I get the sense of a “they made us this way, so deal with it” feeling. This second lens sparks my concern, because the perception that it brings is that we do not aim to achieve more individually, or progressively as a people. Civil right movements and an era of pride did so much for African-Americans only to end up with contentment.

            I’m not writing as a “pull yourself by the bootstrap” republican or “wealth distributing” democrat. I am writing as a person who wants to see his people empowered. I am writing as someone who wants heads raised high instead of turned down. I am writing as a man who is exhausted from hearing his people make excuses instead of making things happen.

            Justifications can be made, never-endingly, as to the state we are in, but the real slavery is a result of the excuses we make. The real jail is the captive mentality we have. The real welfare is the lack of incentive and motivation we give ourselves. The real insight is in knowing that the inability to recognize, along with our inactivity, perpetuates our digression. Opposition will always strike, but offense should not halt.

            In a country where race matters more than any other place in the world, we also make race our own problem. Race is placed upon us, and we place race on ourselves. We allow race to keep us in the rat race. We allow race to keep us content. We let its affect spread to our kids. I recognize the power of race, but more importantly I recognize the strength of my people. Let us not stop trying; let us keep pushing.

            My friend discussed with me a forum she attended celebrating Malcolm X and the question was asked “What do you think Malcolm would think about where black people stand today? Would he be proud?” I think the real question is not whether our ancestors will be proud of us, but if our children and their children will have pride in us.

God Bless