“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance and where any one class is made to feel that society is an oppressing, robbing and degrading them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
— Frederick Douglass.
In a world where we are divided down to the very core of our being, the question posed is “Where do we go from here?” Man versus woman, black family versus white family, democratic versus republican, heterosexual versus homosexual, governments versus the people, police versus blacks, historically black colleges versus predominantly white institutions and many other daily irrelevant social media arguments. We live in a world that is fueled off the differences of people, rather than highlighting the common similarities we share amongst each other.
Subconsciously, through repeated lessons on America’s history, we’ve been taught to think and believe a certain way about whites in America, and vice versa for our white counterparts. We wake up everyday and at some point, based on our thoughts and what we deem to be true, we judge someone’s lifestyle or decisions based on our own beliefs and social upbringing. This is the underlying major issue behind the unifying of America and creating a beloved community.
Before I dive into the key components necessary towards ushering in a new America and the development of a new world, let’s first focus on the original teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. After the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, we saw a rapid decline in radical black leaders on the front lines. This issue is one that I believe placed a huge wrinkle in our timeline as African Americans. The War on Drugs was the main culprit behind the lack of black leaders we need today. Beginning in the late '80s (post MLK and Malcolm X era), the government began to intensify their mission to rid communities of drugs with predominantly blacks areas targeted. During this time, we witnessed a dramatic divide and change of the black family. Fathers were being placed in prison for minor drug related crimes, leaving the mother to develop a sense of masculinity, while maintaining her femininity, in an effort to provide for the family. The generation that was planned to be our next leaders and carry Dr. King’s torch towards a brighter world had disseminated. We had no radical leaders to look to for guidance and wisdom on what to do next.
Dr. King’s message would soon become misconstrued and misinterpreted, so much that it birthed a new form of civil rights activism within our community — social activism. However, social activism came with two genetic flaws: no unity and no spirituality. #BlackLivesMatter, one of the modern examples of social activism, has caused people to rally several states and protest on Capitol Hill. But the issue arises of social activists lasting effect on African Americans, and more importantly, white America.
Too often we protest, fight against police, get tear gassed and abused, just to go back to our regular lives and act like nothing happened the next day. Dr. King labeled these individuals as “10-day protesters.” These people protest for nine days straight and on the 10th day, go back to normal as if nothing happened, while change agents continue to be on the front lines and behind the scenes pushing.
From my standpoint, I believe this is a reoccurring narrative that must stop because:
1. We don’t understand the severity of a divided nation and the power we possess now to change the narrative.
2. When the government sprinkles some affection and attention on our community and its issues, we feel content and back off, never abolishing the issue, just silencing the crying.
3. And, unfortunately, the saddest of all three, we’ve succumbed our ideals to this false truth of knowing we’ll have the chance to protest again. We innately believe that someday in the near future, another black man or woman will become a victim to a racially fueled hatred than is embedded into mind of America.
As I reach my closing points, I want to emphasize three areas of importance for the black community in order to move onward and upward towards the light.
1. The Art of Letting Go
In a June 25, 1958 interview with journalist Mike Wallace, Dr. King said, “It will depend on whether the negro community will continue to move on or live in a negative past …” When we move on as a collective whole, we will begin to arouse the thought process of white people and from there we usher in reconciliation. The massacre in Montgomery was an awakening for a decent amount of white people, the Watts Riots awakened a few more decent white people and today, police brutality and senseless murders of blacks has continued to do so.
2. The Power Of Nonviolence
Gandhi, was a racist once upon a time. He spoke of Africans as Kaffirs, also known as “infidel” or “ignorant,” but what they don’t tell you is that this was before he met Nelson Mandela and Dr. King. Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” His life shows how an ordinary human being who has many weaknesses can rise to great heights by shedding his early prejudices and by adhering to love and non-violence, instead of hate and greed. After Dr. King visited Gandhi, he soon realized that his act of nonviolence protesting was the exact direction that African Americans needed to gravitate towards. Although India was stricken with poverty, low unemployment and overpopulation, they were high in spiritual quality. He was then convinced, after comparing stories and receiving knowledge, that nonviolence was the more potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggles for justice and human dignity. The goal of nonviolence was to not be aggressively physical, but aggressively spiritual. For we know, violence only opens the door for bitterness, while nonviolence ushers in reconciliation.
Many people say that they love their mother, father and God, but is that the only love there is? Does love have limitations dependent on the person? Dr. King wanted to usher in a love that’s “in spite of” — a “no matter what” love, an agape love. God is love, however, how can we truly understand the love of God when we chose to still hold on the past? We still manifest this idea of oppression, division and racism into our mind, which fuels the hatred in America. With a President like Mr. 45, we are now in a government administration where all walks of life will have to band together to fight this system and reshape the land. This can only be done through a united body of blacks and whites.
So now we have a decision to make. Where do we go from here?