I woke up this morning to the written “sounds” of a tired stream of thought. In light of the recent violence that has taken place in Columbus, more people have begun to raise the question about the presence of leaders within the city. Why are people not making enough noise about the violence? Do Black lives matter only when police shoot us? The questions continue to mount. Yet, people have not taken the time to consider why we have arrived in this space. I am of the mind that the Black community has strayed so far from who we are historically that we do not want to take responsibility for the fragments. Hear me out.
I grew up in a village that made it known self-awareness, self-love, and self-respect were not the exception. I was never told by anyone that I should limit myself in my pursuits or dreams. At the same time, I was taught that life, people, and circumstances would attempt to tell me that I was less than and not worthy of advancement. My mother sacrificed to place me in private school, because she believed I would have a better opportunity for education. My ability to fully embrace the totality of who I am was not found in that space. I was never taught complete history. My blackness was weaponized and misrepresented. Thank God that Dr. Charles Edward Booth used the platform of the church to not only reinforce my faith, but used Sunday morning as a launch pad to understand the beauty and power of my Blackness. I never had to wait for someone else to embrace and empower my uniqueness. It was constantly pushed.
I look up now and watch many people (and rightfully so) lament about the death of young people. Many of these beautiful lives have been taken away without rhyme or reason. The truth is that many of these circumstances are rooted in the continued separation of our people. Historically, we have demonstrated the ability and resilience to join together and address our issues together. Yet, we have become a people constantly waiting on the next Black Messiah to get us out of our condition.
The day existed that we would find a way to work through personal preference and difference to focus on the goal and agenda. I believe that many people refuse to do this now because there is not enough notoriety to go around. It is possible that some people will not show up because the lights will not be bright enough. Or, it could be possible that there are people working to make change, but those individuals are not names in circles. It might be possible that the questions are getting answers, but the people offering answers are not popular and don’t care about that at all.
Imagine a world where people are actually working to make a difference in their community. Why? They see the need and go to work. Imagine a people committed to working hard but resources are scarce. Imagine people who have been talking and bringing light to these issues well before they became the cause of the day, but their names are not big enough to be embraced. The work is happening. Plenty of people are trying with what they have. But, it is time for us to have a real discussion about a major road block.
I don’t trust bringing everyone into a family discussion. What do I mean? If we (Black people) are saying that we are tired of the violence, murders, economic disparity, and everything else, then we must bring about the solution. Have we not recognized enough that our community has been the most appropriated, copied, and fleeced in this nation. 98% (arbitrary figure) of what this country is would not exist without our contributions being copied, stolen, and abused. Why would I embrace anything from any entity that will find another way to abuse my community.
Government and other established entities choose causes based on the effects to its profitability. Think about it. Major sports leagues did not bring the importance of Black lives to the forefront until Black athletes said it was time to stop playing the game. The NFL believes that playing Lift Every Voice will cause us to feel better about our environments not changing. Politicians will acknowledge the problems long enough to attempt to prove their moral fiber. True change is not profitable. True change will not come from any place that is not committed or invested in the growth and development of our people.
So why do we keep looking to others to solve our problems? Why do we allow people to attempt to dictate to us how our community should operate? Why should I take seriously the words and actions of those not invested in my overall well-being?
Many Black people have become so disconnected from one another that we can not find ourselves on common ground. Being Black is not about just one thing. Being Black is not just about birthing Hip Hop, creating fashion sense, and natural hair. Being Black is not profit driven images and materialism. Being Black is not being labeled ghetto for not fitting Euro-centric norms. Being Black is knowing that my history did not being with slavery. Being Black is taking pride that my roots are African, my heritage is royal, and my nature thrives in every condition. Being Black is knowing that God created us after the Creator’s image and likeness. Being Black is knowing Jesus looked like me. Being Black is beautiful.
Our responsibility is to remind everyone under this tent that these listed facts and many others are true. I know that there are human beings that do not look like me that understand the sentiment of pride that I listed. I recognize that good people exist in the world. Yet, I understand that moments come when we must be more like David in moments of challenge and difficulty. We must be able to encourage and strengthen ourselves. Doing so will cause others to recognize the importance of our dignity and self-respect.
So what do we do? How do we get moving?
- Begin Honoring Our Humanity Again: We are not connected, because we have created a culture that is not in touch with God or self. We must begin to teach our youth and adults their complete history. We must demonstrate that the work, sacrifice, and innovation of our people is not a footnote. We must instill in the minds of our people our worth and value beyond the dollar. We must teach that the value of life is not a value judgment that can be determined by the will of another human being. God has already determined our worth. We must reinforce that truth through our speech and actions.
- Pick Up Our Corner: The Bible teaches of a lame man who was carried by four men to Jesus. The Lord was teaching in a person’s house. The whole community was at the location. The friends tried to get the man to Jesus through the door, but it was blocked by the mass of humanity. They decided to take their friend to the roof and lower him down to get access to Jesus. Can you imagine how challenging it might have been to get a grown man to the roof, secured, and lowered from the roof to Jesus. It would have been more difficult if it was only one person doing the work. The key is recognizing that everyone has a role and responsibility. Do not diminish the work of others if it is not on the front page. Do not doubt the efforts of people because you haven’t heard about it. Take up your corner and lift. In doing so, we will be able to position ourselves for greater.
- Discover and Address the Real Need: We have many problems in our community. We have many great things about our community. One major thing that I notice though is that we have a tendency to tell our environment what it needs rather than listen and discern what it needs. Every situation is not the same. We may deal with many root issues. Yet, all of us are not in the same place in life. We cannot treat people or circumstances in a one size fits all manner. We must engage in a manner that provides insight beyond our assumptions. We cannot lift the community assuming our perspective is the only one that counts.
It is time for us to do work. The rhetoric is over. Reconnect with one another. Our future depends