I get it that racist attitudes worked to keep Blacks in subjugation back in the old days. I understand that the Ku Klux Klan has taken off the white robes and donned suits and ties, steel toed jump boots or, sometimes, even police uniforms. I know that there are people who only want to see Black folks fall, preferably to not get up. To that, I think we have to say SO WHAT?
Are we not the ones who all mankind has evolved from? Hasn’t our legacy always been to take something broken and make something beautiful from it? Did not our ancestors manage to construct an impossibly large city deep in the jungle of ancient Mozambique? Did we not construct pyramids in the middle of deserts? We have the capacity and fortitude to excel in spite of obstacles and opposition. I think we have to look at today’s culture as same attitude, different obstacles. There are people overcoming the stacked deck every day. Gabe Sonnier became the principal of the school where he worked as a janitor. Charletha Ware was a single mother of three that earned double masters degrees in Education while working full time and raising her family. Fernando Pullum grew up in Chicago’s deadly west side and has evolved into a positive role model in South Central Los Angeles and founded the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center right in the ‘hood. I absolutely believe that when someone says you can’t do something, that should be rocket fuel in your tank to prove them wrong.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We have to be about our business!! Take the wealth of technology at your fingertips and do more than post twerking and fight videos.The web delivers a world of knowledge to you if you want to capitalize on it. We have a means of educating ourselves and our kids to be better adults, to teach them that Black History starts ages before the slavery era in the U.S., and that we can control the perception of Black folks (our perception and others') by taking ownership of the definition of us. Just change it up. The world will follow suit anyway. They always do.
What I’m saying is we are and have always been survivors and innovators. I say redirect the energy spent on negative behavior and imagery and find out how the skills we use to behave badly can be repurposed to stand tall(er). For example, to the thugs… if you can weigh drugs, package them, account for the money spent and earned, create policies and manage people under you, you have the basic intuitive talent to run a company. Why not run one? Quit buying into the 'hood mentality of "I have no other option", “I've got nothing to lose” or “the Illuminati don’t want me to come up”. Do it anyway. Why not educate yourself and get qualified to run a business? Street smarts could take you a long way in the business arena.
Vote!! No matter how voting is de-emphasized in the ‘hood, it matters. Every time. Vote for local officials, judges, aldermen, county supervisors, sheriffs, etc.; all the way up to mayors, governors, senators, congressmen and, of course, president. And don’t only participate in presidential elections. Legislature passed at the state level may escape the scope of presidential power so we should help control what happens in your city/state or in your neighborhood. Don’t let your voting power and Senate representation get undermined by having the voting zones redrawn right out from under you. You have power that you need to harness. Organizing awareness campaigns in your neighborhood is a great idea, but I’d say start small. Start with yourself and set the example. No one can stop you from learning. You can get the information that I’m referring to through a library, a newspaper or even a smart phone.
Use the internet to unify for causes you care about. Show up for protests and marches for issues you are passionate about. Agreeing with a grievance from your sofa doesn’t have the same impact as coming out and showing your face and letting your voice be heard. Talib Kweli demonstrated that very premise recently by SHOWING UP in Ferguson, MO. He was able to bring more attention to the protestor’s side of the story and rebut some of the propaganda-laced news reports that depicted the protestors as unruly thugs provoking the police into attacking them. Thank God he showed up! He was well spoken and respectful, but still wasn’t having it from the media when he got the chance to report what he was seeing.
Spend your dollars with companies and businesses that support your community. Money is power and leverage. Spending it strategically shifts the dynamic quickly. Love yourself more than Nike, Timberland, and Tommy Hilfiger. Some of these companies openly disrespect or discount Black culture while pocketing billions from the Black community and borrowing from it in their advertising at the same time. How do you think that makes you look in the eyes of someone who already told you they despise you and don’t appreciate or even WANT your business? Why not support Black businesses in your proximity. Even if you have to go out of your way to do it. As noted on the BET website…
“Although a recent study showed that African-Americans’ buying power reached $946.6 billion in 2010 and is projected to climb to $1.3 trillion in 2017, the average Black-owned business grosses only about $72,000 per year, according to the U.S. Census. The national average for other minority businesses is $179,000 per year and a whopping $490,000 per year for non-minority businesses.”
In case you didn’t know, here are links to Black Business directories I found where??? Online.
Just to name a few…
When you think about it, the things discussed in this article can be accomplished with or without racism getting factored in. There is no ‘colored only’ section of the library or the internet. Voting is free. You’re absolutely free to spend your money wherever you see fit. This is not to oversimplify the cultural and racial divide in this country; in this world. But you can start building up your community starting with yourself. No racism can prevent you from becoming a better person. No one hatred can prevent you from carrying yourself like the kings and queens. No prejudice can force rappers and music producers and labels to continue to create destructive music and make even falling in love thugged out. Racism exists. So what? Strive anyway. We always have.
P.S. -- I wouldn’t be mad about getting a legal, concealed weapon permit, just in case. IJS :-)
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Black Diamonds Scholarship Fund's 2016 Recipient, Joyalise Shelton