by | Dec 16, 2021


“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
 That excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 now sounds more like a scene from a utopian society, as opposed to a glimpse of our nation from 50 years ago. That’s right-only 50 years ago, there were actually Black Americans in positions of significance and authority that passionately believed in peaceful demonstrations. In addition to that, they desired nothing more for the Black youth of America not to get a handout, but a hand up. They also emphatically desired that their children only required a fair shot. Not cuts in line, no special treatment, nor even an adjustment to the rules of play- just an opportunity. They craved as King did, only that their children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. In fact, to undergird this perspective, the United Negro College Fund ran a series of PSAs during the 1970’s expressing that same credence concerning the future of Black America. As hopeful images for Blacks were flashed before us, we could hear the lyrics of Ray Charles’ “Reaching for the Dream” echoing those same sentiments in the background: “If you help me join the line-you pull your weight, and I’ll pull mine. We want to give our best, please understand; we’re not asking for a handout-just a hand.” Given the current societal trend, it seems impossible to imagine that we were ever there.

Contrary to the opinion of many, Dr. King did not have an idealistic view of the world around him. Throughout this speech, he not only referenced the concerns of those who looked like him, but also boldly spoke of the many injustices they suffered. Nevertheless, while recognizing that America had much further to go, he refused to ignore her potential to right her wrongs. He still believed in her ability to learn from her mistakes.

Oddly enough, it was during this time that actual lynching occurred in full display before a watching world. It was during this time as well, that Jim Crow laws, segregation and the Klu Klux Klan were very real and present dangers. So, how did we arrive at a world that operates as though those racist entities that virtually no longer exist, are not only fully operational, but current existing threats to the well-being of Black Americans? How did the Black community, rather than progress from that mentality, regress to a group seeking to keep racism alive and well by attempting only last year to overturn anti-discrimination laws?

Over the past few years, many of us have watched on our smartphones, computers and televisions as America has descended into what some would consider utter chaos. Simultaneously, we heard others call them “peaceful protests,” while lives were lost and entire neighborhoods were looted and burned beyond recognition. Yet, more than that, the world has trans morphed into something that most born prior to 1970 would consider unrecognizable. That same generation remembered the massive and remarkable changes that resulted from “protests” that were truly peaceful. It was that generation as well that watched as colored-only drinking fountains, segregated diners and busses went away, while also having a ringside seat as Black sports figures, as well as Black actors and actresses were honored, recognized, and celebrated, not because of a “balancing the scales” ploy, but honestly giving credit and merit where such accolades were due. 

With so many once-limitations removed, and innumerable restrictions no longer present, one would believe many of us would be at a different place. After all, few could dispute the fact that the descendants of those singing, “We shall overcome,” had indeed done so. Despite those measurable strides, there has always been a select group-not the majority by any means, yet operating as such, that has never been satisfied with any headway that was made. The common misconception was that those detractors that fought to disregard and dismiss any change would have White skin; nothing could be further from the truth.

Many years ago, Malcolm X addressed that same concern: “I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin…”
Truth be told, this was not as much prophetic as it was a prognostication. In other words-even then, the writing was on the wall. While gentlemen like Malcolm and Martin spoke and exhibited these truths to the populace, save the hopeful majority- their words went largely ignored. Most that acknowledge their significance today do so to align themselves with their worth, rather than their words. Unfortunately, with the rise of groups like BLM, and those pushing racist segregationist curriculum, they have decided that it is simply not enough for them to stand on what they say they believe. For them, “misery loves company” is clearly the order of the day, as they malign, insult, belittle and degrade those that dare to look like them-but not think like them. To coin a current trending phrase, “they may be skin-folk-but they ain’t kinfolk.” In other words- no longer considered family. These individuals will never be satisfied nor interested in anything that sends a message of unity-nor are they required to. In fact, rather than give any rationale for their stance, they opt to defend anything that challenges either their narrative or their actions with the terms “racist” or “ White supremascist;” phrases that tend to empower weak-minded Blacks while sparking weak-minded Whites to be apologetic. The concerns addressed here are not merely an acknowledgement or note-worthy, but should be instead disconcerting and cringe-worthy. Make no mistake-the civilization around us is slowly and noticeably crumbling before our eyes. If good men doing nothing is the gauge by which we measure that evil succeeds, then it would appear that those considered good men are doing less than nothing. Due to our complicity of allowing those that seek to shred our Constitution, its amendments, and all that we hold dear, the disintegration is happening that much more rapidly. Gender is no longer considered a biological certainty, but rather a state of mind. Lawlessness is now celebrated, while respect for those in law enforcement is virtually non-existent. As if that weren’t bad enough, burning cities and American flags in effigy are currently the only acceptable examples for some form of ‘freedom of speech.’

Is this the end? No. However, much like a disease whose current representation is only symptomatic, it is revelatory of a possible future to come. Like a disease, we must aggressively remind its host, the Black community, that because it has not taken advantage of the opportunities afforded it but rather continued to squander them, it is reaping what it has sown. Like a stage-4 cancer patient that has disregarded his physicians’ warnings, he no longer has a 6-moth expectancy in which to live; time is running out. By using race as its identity as opposed to that of personal achievement and/or merit, Black America has crippled itself and hindered its own progress by creating its own stumbling blocks and then lamenting about them. If in the words of the UNCF commercials, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” than surely the waste of a generation’s potential is much more tragic. Welcome to dystopia.

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