Love in Color
“Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them, gets its teeth into doctrines and rends them; time reveals the foundations on which any kingdom rests, and eats at those foundations, and it destroys doctrines by proving them to be untrue” as said by the author, James Baldwin.
In America, there is a false sense of accomplishment in regards to race relations. We want to and would like to say that we’ve made progress in the name of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, and Barack Obama. Yes, those who have sacrificed in the name of justice and progress have paved the way for future generations but we are still fighting the same fight today.
This sense of equality is a façade and a vision of what America wants to be. America has never looked itself in the mirror, showing it’s true face, for what it is.
We have had our first black president in Barack Obama. An accomplishment that many American’s and people around the world touted as the shift in the tides of the color line. The important consideration is not that we have had a black president; it is what type of country he was president of. Unfortunately, we got the response this past election.
Every February, we celebrate Black History Month. It must be noted that black history is also American history, and the story of the African-American in America is not a pretty story. As African-American’s we have gone over the past century and a half from reconstruction, to resistance, to recovery — and today, to a real need for reclamation. As what we claim, we are.
We as a people are not responsible for racism. We are not responsible for Jim Crow. We are not responsible for slavery. That is not the reality that we face or created. We have our own history that is rich and prosperous. We come from a lineage of royalty and scholars who taught the Greeks about basic concepts of mathematics and science. We come from kings and queens who ruled the great continent of Africa, only to be pillaged by colonialism and imperialism.
Our journey across the middle passage has erased the memories of our ancestors and we have been searching for our own identity ever since.
Too many of us see each other as they see us. It is imperative that we create our own image of ourselves.
If we believe that we are great, we will achieve great things. No outside force can shape your reality of who and what you are. But it is the most difficult challenge that we face as African-Americans. To define ourselves and to not be defined by others.
We want a voice and to be represented. Not only as equals but also to have to say in the affairs of our country. As we were one of the first American’s to arrive on the shores.
An American truth is that there would be no America without the blood, sweat, and tears of black people. Black history is American history and is a time to celebrate our past while inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.
America is the land of the free, the land of prosperity, the land of equality, the land of freedom. Yet, these are privileges only seem to be available to a select group. Privileges of freedom and equality that define the American way, have excluded the same people who built this country. The people who toiled the fields, the people who built the railroads, those people live every day wondering when is their freedom, their prosperity, and their equality is going to show up at their front door.
That is what we mean, when we talk about democracy and say #BlackLivesMatters.
That is an obvious statement, of course, black lives matter. As so do white, brown, and yellow lives. But that is not the question that America needs to be asking. America needs to answer why they created the ‘negro’.
The fact that we have to say over and over that black lives matter is because America doesn’t want to ask that question. Because if and when they do, the power structures will fall. America will be vulnerable to its insecurities, to its violent past, and to its repayment of those who built this great land.
Segregation never ended with Jim Crow, the truth is the diversity of society is not one homogenous group.
African-American’s for 400 and more years have asked for something that feels impossible but is very simple. For the people in this country to be compassionate and for the nation to recognize our humanity. To be seen as equals and most importantly, as humans. To be recognized for our contributions and given equal opportunities.
The civil rights movement was a fight to break down the wall that stood between African-Americans and love, life, and power, along with whatever else they wanted to achieve.
Today’s America is not a post-racial America because the fact is that racism still is still a plague and disease that is preventing our progression, not only as a people, or a country but also as human beings.
In his recent article about Barack Obama titled “My President Was Black”, author Ta-Nehisi Coates states that “African Americans typically raise their children to protect themselves against a presumed hostility from white teachers, white police officers, white supervisors, and white co-workers. The need for that defense is, more often than not, reinforced either directly by actual encounters or indirectly by observing the vast differences between one’s own experience and those across the color line”.
Young African-Americans are often given a lecture from their parents, all which usually carry the same message. To face the reality of our society and that we will have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to achieve half as much.
But yet, it is the same consequence of that speech that pushes the achievement of getting an education, hard work and hustle, and to take opportunities to use as stepping stones.
The gate to equality is open but yet so very far away.
President Obama showed America that it is possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time. “His time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations. He became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness”.
To think of the impossible is the least that man can do, the history of African-American’s in America testifies to the achievement of the impossible.
In Sidney Poitier’s autobiography, The Measure of Man, there is a specific line that many, if not all, African American’s have gone through “the world was waiting that would focus on my color to the exclusion of all else, never caring to go beyond that superficial characteristic to see what else I might have to offer”.
To those that have denied our value as people, or my brothers and sisters, to them, we say that we aren’t fighting or talking about being as good as you. We are declaring to make ourselves better than you.
Being black is a gift, it gives you strength. As it is amazing that we have gone this far given what we have gone through. We are a resilient people, as the saying goes, black don’t crack.
A favorite quote of mine by James Baldwin is “Black has become a beautiful color — not because it is loved but because it is feared”.
Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.
As you look up at the sky at night and see the black blanket sprinkled with stars, it is a representation of life. It is the representation of our melanin that pigments our body. Melanin that is found in all parts of the universe and it is the key to our spirituality.
“It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate” as said by James Baldwin.
Love is more important than color.
Both blacks and whites in America, deeply need each more than either side realizes. If we are to truly build bonds and become a nation we must see each as brothers and sisters. As men and women.
We are all human and have unique identities as complex beings. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together” Desmond Tutu.
The question is, is America ready for oneness? We are the richest and wealthiest country in the world — As an American society, we need a shared agreement and decide that we want to redefine our society to include shared prosperity for all.
But racism is the incurable disease that is holding America back and preventing our progression and vision of equality.
“Race is the child of racism, not the father” Ta-Nehisi Coates
If we get to the roots and to absolute truth, race is not truly real and a social construct. It is a creation, a creation that was necessary to define the power structure that America was built on. But racism is very real along with the hate that is born out of it.
It is up to America to break the notion of race, as there is just the human race (scientifically and anthropologically). Race can only be defined as a human being.
In order to dismantle racism, we must first dismantle race. As we are trying to break a system while still accepting the ideology that is at its root. It is similar to the analogy of an infected wound. The wound is not disinfected and only continues to become infected.
We must continue to fight and to never accept injustices, to fight with all our strength, to keep our hearts free of hatred and despair.
“Education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know” W.E.B. Du Bois
It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person. You must be an agent of change and continue to fight the struggle for justice, equality.
I have realized, as I meet higher forms of education, that my accomplishments are not for me. The same goes for any and all minorities that are fighting to attain a stronger foothold to progress, either through education or career success. It is our responsibility to the nation, to be thoughtful that our achievements are for the plight have people who have gone through oppression in the past and that are oppressed currently.
Through mentorship, higher education, community service, and just living authentically, African-Americans have the power to regain the level of exceptionalism they once held.
Every last one of us has a responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, yellow, orange or red. We have a responsibility to break the mold and show that anyone can be as intelligent as they want to be.