Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, James Bird, Troy Davis, so many others and now Michael Brown. I’m a young black man but I’ve lived long enough to see how this situation plays out. The reactions have often been the same; public outcries for a couple of months at best and then it subsides, meanwhile very few people change their own behavior which is detrimental to the community.
In fact, in the midst of the heartache and pain there are “members” of the community who will actually use it as an opportunity to capitalize by looting and vandalizing businesses in their own neighborhoods. These individuals not only lack the necessary commitment to enact change, but they are enemies of the same “hood” that they claim to love so much. Even more than that, they have become, either wittingly or unwittingly, agents of the oppressor that they claim so much to hate.
The morning after the Michael Brown verdict, I woke up from a restless sleep and I saw in my inbox that a good friend of mine left me a message that read, “Good morning dear! It’s a new day.” It was a new day, but the reality for me and many other black men and women in this country is that while it is a new day, it is the same old circumstance.
It makes me wonder how many new days my ancestors had in the cottonfield, under Willie Lynch, under Jim Crow. Yet it was the same old circumstance; that is until they finally decided to stand up. They realized that there would be no saviors, so they became their own saviors and their own leaders. Yet now many years later, we view them as our leaders who are long dead and gone and can do nothing for us in our new day. We still don’t have a concrete vision for our community’s future because we’re still living off of a deceased man’s dream.
That is no disrespect to Dr. King, but we need to realize as our predecessors did, that there will be no saviors, no leaders and everyone must lead their own household in a constructive and productive manner; on which brings, honor, pride, and respect for the community. Short lived outrage and destruction of property isn’t the best course of action if a community truly desires change. It never has been.
To truly make an impact, outrage must be continuous and organized. Successful uprisings and revolt have always carried a component that attacks the economic system of the oppressor. Our predecessors understood that protest and marching without boycott of businesses meant nothing and was only tantamount to throwing a mass tantrum. Change does not happen just by marching and it definitely does not happen by vandalizing and destroying our own neighborhoods. That is masochistic and self-mutilation on a macro-level that speaks of not only emotional, but also mental instability. And the painful reality is that before Christmas rolls around and the cock crows three times, for many of us, our memories will deny that this ever happened.
Then we have to ask the hard question that very few like to ask and even fewer have the guts to answer: can we really expect others to value our lives when we don’t? We kill each other over colors and blocks that we don’t even own. We support artists who’s music and video’s degrade our women and tell our young that doing drugs is cool. I see so many posts and memes on Instagram and FaceBook of babies and toddlers blinged out. I see our teens twerking or reciting lyrics to the latest rap song but they can’t recite their address, telephone number or their parents’ full names. They can barely read and studies show that if a child does not know how to read by the time he or she is in the third grade, that child is on a fast track to jail.
So many of our young can tell you the history of Bobby Smhurda or when each member of Young Money got signed but can’t even go back three generations of their own family history. We will stand on line for days to spend money to get the iPhone 6 and the latest kicks that have the name of athletes some active some retired, who are quick to give a press release about their merchandise, but are too afraid to speak out on the front line about the mistreatment and injustice of those that keep them in that rich life in the community they came from. I can go on and on about the systems and institutions that contribute to this, but until we are united as a people we cant fight any of those things. We have to get our houses in order.
Good morning, its a new day.