A young man I was mentoring called me to vent about what he perceived as a negative experience. He was FURIOUS!!! He was leaving a job interview in a building downtown when he was joined on the elevator by an older white woman. Though he was professionally dressed, his “swagger” still seemed to show.
According to his account, when the elevator door closed the lady moved as close as she could on the other side of the elevator and clutched her purse, being sure to not make eye contact with him. He said it was obvious she was afraid. She honestly thought he would do something to her or try to take her purse.
He was livid that she would think that of him. “Don’t nobody want that ol’ woman, her p***y, OR her dayum purse!” he said. He rode the bus and walked home from his stop insulted that someone who didn’t even know him would thing that about him, and would make it known with their actions.
When he finished venting, I asked him to listen to what he told me. I repeated, “The white woman got on the elevator. When the door closed, she retreated to the opposite side and clutched her purse. Why? Because she was afraid of you.”
“Yeah”, he said.
I asked him, “when are you gonna realize the power you have?” When will you glory in the fact that as a young black man, your very presence is so intense that it intimidates people who aren’t as strong as you are, and it challenges their ignorance?”
“Dayum! I didn’t think about it like that,” he responded.
Even though I was in a position to minister to him, this entire scenario was a lesson to me as well. I should no longer view my blackness as a hindrance or curse. I should embrace and glory in it. Hell, my blackness is more than beautiful…it’s downright powerful! The fact that I’m a black man is a gift. It’s a blessing. It’s an honor that God saw fit to bestow. It’s a reason to celebrate. I also realized that my blackness is a call to responsibility. The power that black men possess is one that should be used to bless the earth. When I think of the intelligence and talent we possess, it makes me so proud to be who I am. I just wish there were more black men who were vocal about their Black Pride.
The funny thing is how white people get afraid, offended and worried about black men having, vocalizing and displaying their pride. It truly incites fear within their very souls. I think that fear is a response to their internalized guilt for how we’ve been treated in the United States of Amerikkka. I think Black Pride is such a bright light that it shows them their inferiority. Maybe they are afraid because they know if we ever start to walk in all the greatness that lives within us, the white privilege bullshit will end, and the chickens will TRULY come home to roost.
It’s sad to think an entire generation of black men know nothing of their history. They have no clue of the greatness that is manifested on the earth because of their presence. I think knowing how Benjamin Banniker, a black man, contributed inventions that changed history would make them proud. Knowing of Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, black men, giving us literature that transcends time would get them excited. To know how the athletic accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Arthur Ashe, Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan revolutionized sports forever is simply amazing. To have knowledge of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Dr. MLK, and countless other civil rights icons would make them proud of their blackness. To know of men like Thelonius Monk, James Cleveland, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince and countless others who personify musical excellence and genius, would be an inspiration.
Having the opportunity to mentor younger black men has helped me realize that we, as a black men, cannot allow the fear or ignorance of others to make us think negative things about ourselves. We cannot allow anyone but us to define who we are. We cannot accept what the media says about black men as our personal truth, but rather present such a positive and powerful image they can’t help but tell the truth we want told.
It’s time we get back to teaching our sons, nephews and cousins about the greatness from whence they come. We have to embrace the beauty in our diversity. We can no longer use the evil perpetrated by white men as an excuse to dwell in mediocrity. We have to accept our blackness as a “something extra” that God gave us to succeed, whether white men are afraid of it or not.
Over the past few days I have been really troubled to hear about the “flash mob violence” that isgoing on in Wisconsin and in Pennsylvania. I’m troubled, not just because black youth are acting out and behaving very violently, but because of the media spin that is making it all look like horrible and violent black youth are randomly attacking innocent good white folks.
I don’t condone random unprovoked violence in any fashion. But I must say I understand the reason why these young people are acting out in such a way. I can see their frustration and their feeling of hopelessness. Most of these kids have no stable home life. They go to schools that have been stripped of music and arts programs. They live in neighborhoods where there are no community centers or anything constructive for them to do. Playgrounds are being torn down and parks are being closed. Their very existence is a reflection of what it is like to live in every form of poverty. What alternative is there for them?
Having been raised in the south, I also understand what it’s like to be treated unfairly because of the color of your skin. I know what it’s like to be made to feel like you are less than everyone else. That makes angry after awhile. To realize that no matter how good you are at anything, your options are few and your chances of living your dreams are slim to none could push anyone over the edge.
Do all these things excuse their actions? Absolutely not! Should the perpetrators of these violent acts be punished? ABSOLUTELY! But we have to understand that finding the guilty ones and punishing them does NOT solve the problem. As a country, do we feel that treating the symptoms of a problem so we can say we did something is enough? Do we even care about solving the real problem? If we take care of the root of the problem, the symptoms will go away.
Or maybe the problem is deeper than that. Maybe this is a forecast of what is to come. Maybe the kids are acting out because they feel the only way they are going to get whatever they feel they deserve is to take it by force. I mean, our country was built as a result of violence, rape, theft, treachery and slavery. Could it be that those seeds are finally springing up? The very religion our country was supposedly built upon teaches that “whatsoever a man sows, THAT shall he also reap”. I don’t know. Maybe there’s nothing that can be done. Maybe the damage is already done and we just have to live in the environment that was created for us by those who came before.
If the media is going to report on these types of stories, I hope they do so with true journalistic integrity. I hope these issues are reported in a way that makes people think and inspire people to do what they can to change the situations causing the issues in the first place. If the revolution is to be televised, hopefully it will be in such a way that all of us can learn something and not spun into something that is divisive and perpetuates the problem.
Who knew that having a black President of the United States would wake up Amerikkka’s true feelings? For years, where racial slurs and “off color” comments about race were consideredpolitically incorrect and downright ignorant, to speak hate speech is now allowed because it’s our “constitutional right”.
Now that the Congressional Black Caucus and other supposed civil rights organizations have had their fill of the racist kool-aid, what’s next? I’ll tell you… the senseless killing of black men in the streets of the “greatest country on earth” and not even leading blacks are saying anything about it.
According to police, early on the morning of June 26th, James Craig Anderson, a 49 year-old African-American auto plant worker in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, was set upon by a group of white teenagers who beat him while screaming “White Power.” Then one of them got behind the wheel of a Ford F250 green pickup and ran Anderson over, killing him. And what did the the 7 white boys get? NOTHING! The ring leader is out of jail on house arrest AFTER an area pastor told police this sort of thing would happen if he wasn’t taken off the streets. The 2nd hatemonger was charged with only simple assault. And the rest? Well, we have yet to hear about what will happen to them.
Where the hell is Al Sharpton, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, the CBC, NAACP? I guess the kool-aid they’re drinking is spiked with some BS that has them asleep now. Or maybe the photo ops aren’t big enough for them to say anything about this case. They sure didn’t think the POTUS being referred to as a “tar-baby” was important.
But then again, why should they? They have arrived. They are the leading blacks. And no matter how passionate or apathetic they appear to be on camera, black folks will eat up whatever they say. It wouldn’t surprise me if they are being paid by Republikkkans to say nothing. And they have the nerve to wonder why this generation coming up has no respect whatsoever for them or what they claim to stand for.
I’m not discounting the work they’ve done. I’m not even saying they haven’t done good for Black America or the country as a whole. I AM saying that the struggle isn’t over. And since these people have been elected and/or anointed “black leaders” they are OBLIGATED to continue to speak out against hate speech and violence against people of color. If not, they need to pass the torch to people who can and will stand up for justice. My late grandmother would say “shit, or get off the pot”!
To the CBC, NAACP, NAN, NBJC and all the other “civil rights organizations” who have a national platform I ask, “How many more James Craig Andersons have to be run over and murdered before you say anything? Or does your silence equal consent?
SEE THE VIOLENT VIDEO OF THE MURDER HERE… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbMsZM-eO4