Attend any Black event, whether it’s at the Black Church, a party, a conference, the bowling league, bingo or a barbecue, there’s usually a common theme in the conversations; stories and anecdotes are recounted with a self-deprecating humor that’s filled with reports of daily micro-aggressions, prejudice, and discrimination. The mere fact that their sanity and sense of humor remain intact after the daily assault on their humanity and sensibilities is a tribute to the resilience of the Black psyche, which Dr. King refers to as “The content of a man’s character.”
The Civil Rights Movement was the vanguard in the Black man’s search for security, equal rights, and justice – which hopefully would culminate in consequential Change in the lives and fortunes of not just Black lives, but other lives as well. I never thought that I would ever agree with Sunny Hostin of the View until she asserted that “the black and other minority people who have an enviable level of success are the exception rather than the rule in American society.” Ever since the plateauing of that movement, incremental Change has been less than gradual, causing one to ponder its authenticity and longevity, because even legislative change requires cooperation and compliance in a free society. My truth is that real authentic Change never took place in the hearts and minds of the majority of White Americans; yes, we saw political theater, the legislation and celebration of progressive change, and yes we honor the sacrifices of White families of goodwill who stood with us. Unfortunately, though, even with legislation and sanctions the fundamental benchmarks of our real collaborative was never accepted and hence never established in the hearts and minds of the majority.
Real change is quantifiable, visible, and tangible, which we can observe if there are: Black economic gains, increased educational achievement, better health care outcomes, more criminal justice reforms and improved housing. Sadly, that’s not the case, the key indicators of real change that are cited above belong to other racial groups, not Blacks. What we’re seeing is political window dressing rather than meaningful and lasting change. A glaring and self-defeating American weakness is our continuing failure to learn from others whom we deem as under-developed, hence the South African attempt of ‘Reconciliation’ has not even been considered as a first step in uniting our common interests. Any attempt that reads Reconciliation I believe would appeal to the oppressed in America and would awaken a zeal within the ranks of the marginalized to pursue hopefulness instead of hopelessness. Barring that miraculous event – we will only see, and experience Change when We Change!
The massive Change we need to undergo as a people is highly unlikely, unless we face a calamitous racial genocide that threatens our extinction, even then, our general state of apathy is so entrenched that we are even blind to the reality of our destruction by the “Death by a thousand cuts!” Our future as a people rests squarely on each of us – the Individual – to each take responsibility for rebuilding, restoring our families and our communities. The Black community has an enviable record of doing just that; if you recall, history demonstrates that we are capable of forming and shaping communities out of necessity. Is it that integration in the larger mainstream community has made us lazy, dependent, and complacent? Is that the case? Then why not begin to Change our circumstances by personal Self-integration – the process of rediscovering yourself, which leads to self-respect, which leads to respecting others, which leads to integrating our interests in order to reflect a ‘Garveyesque’ approach to rebuilding Black pride, achievement and self-determination.
Please remove the misguided and unrealistic notion that ‘Others’ are going to change and accept our demands for Equality and Justice, these are ideals we forge for ourselves out of the collective experience of our ancestors and the education and economic gains we have made. We already have a template that’s been tested and forged by the blood and sacrifices of American heroes, like Frederick Douglas whose famous challenge said this, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Somehow, for some inconceivable reason we have not applied that truth, that paradigm to ourselves. We direct that foil to our perceived adversaries with power and conviction, but never to ourselves; yes, it’s meant for us to apply to our condition, it also asks us to make a demand on ourselves and our leaders to Change strategy. The adversary will never concede until you resist, the way you resist is to Change your expectations of hoping for Change by initiating Change yourself.