Marcus Mosiah Garvey is Jamaica’s first National hero. He is recognized as the father of black nationalism and black consciousness. It was Garveyism which formed the foundation of the American civil rights struggle of the 60’s. It was Garveyism which awakened the consciousness of the Black Panther Party, The Nation of Islam,and even the non-violent movement spear-headed by Martin Luther King and others. Others like Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, and many other heroes of that era who sacrificed much so that many may now reap what they did not sow.
President Obama sits in the seat Rosa parks sat in, on the very bus ,December 1st 1955
Barack Obama the President of the United States sits in the very seat that Rosa Parks sat during a visit to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan this week, President Barack Obama took a moment to board one of its big attractions – the Montgomery, Ala. city bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.
President Obama later reflected on the moment at a fundraiser in Suburban Detroit Michigan, Quote:“I just sat in there for a moment and pondered the courage and tenacity that is part of our very recent history but is also part of that long line of folks who sometimes are nameless, often times didn’t make the history books, but who constantly insisted on their dignity, their share of the American dream.”
This for me was a powerful moment in American history, and a particularly poignant coming of age of people of African-American heritage. This was the result of Ms. Parks defiance. Rosa Parks later stated there was no truth to the notion she refused to give up her seat because she was tired, if anything she was tired of being relegated to being second class citizen.
As we evaluate just how far we have come since that December day,we recognize there are significant challenges for people of African-American ancestry in America. The problems of our community are not the same as it is for other groups.
Unemployment is highest in our community. We have the highest rate of children being born out-of-wedlock a fact which puts our children at elevated risks of school drop-out, problems with the law, among a raft of other negatives. We are more prone to certain diseases than other groups. Our men are profiled, arrested and more disproportionately incarcerated than other groups. When charged with crimes our people are more likely to be incarcerated at a much more alarming rate than other Americans, and they get much longer and disproportionately more severe sentences than other Americans. In Schools our children are more likely to be suspended expelled or otherwise penalized than whites or other groups. When compared with white children who commit similar infractions our children are penalized much more severely , even when they are not the aggressors, and the infractions are committed together with white children.
The disadvantages we suffer are too numerous to mention here. At the same time there are also a significant amount of things that our community must change.
There are many intellects in our community who argue that we should not have to change our swag to please anyone, I agree. Many argue that wearing our pants low is stylish and we shouldn’t change it , I agree.
I wear my jeans low, I walk with a swag, I am a proud black man, no one is going to tell me what to do. However what I see on the streets in my city, and in other cities with young black men and boys is not low riding pants, it’s not sag. It is disrespecting one’s self.
There is nothing cultural or black about wearing one’s pants around one’s thighs, with underwear where the pants should be ,and in many case showing the crack of one’s ass. Forget about others and what they might think, it is downright disrespectful to one’s self, family, community and race. Neither my sons nor my nephews dress that way, it has nothing to do with the fact that they care what white America think, they dress properly because they respect themselves.
So lets start by respecting ourselves while we demand respect from others. Lets stop cutting class, lets stop going to prison if we can, lets stop killing each other. Lets start marrying our baby’ mothers, lets stay in our children’s lives, let’s stop selling drugs which destroy our own people, lets stop allowing ourselves to be caricatured as ignorant violent prone idiots when we enter people’s business places. Lets starting to re-evaluate our priorities, let us start placing more priorities on education, rather than the newest sneakers , and clothes. Lets stop standing on the corner trying to get with every girl, who are themselves more than happy to be irresponsible with their bodies. Women who then head to court asking for child support. The out-of-wedlock babies are significant , but more pressing are the out-of-wedlock babies without fathers . Within those scenarios are the prison data confronting our community.
The ascendency of Barack Obama has demonstrated to African America that the more things change the more they remain the same.With the bad economy blacks have suffered greater than other groups, being largely at the bottom of the ladder the black community has a higher unemployment rate than whites. You may ask why? The answer is largely to be found in the fact that blacks mostly do not own businesses, and generally work at Government jobs. This means that in an economic down-turn businesses let people go , generally last hired, first fired. Of course the same applies to government jobs, during crunch time municipalities are forced to downsize,which dramatically affects blacks directly.
Long before Barack Obama knew he would ever be president, I joked with friends that for a black man to attain the presidency he would have to be so anti-black he would be a disaster for the black community. I made that judgement call from one person alone Clarence Thomas and the incredible disaster he has been for the African-American community. I must say that I was wrong, this president though a president for all Americans, certainly hasn’t been the colossal disaster other blacks whom have attained high office has been.
So why do we see so much venom directed at this president? And certainly it is hard to invoke racism when there are people like Florida congressman Allen West saying the things he is! Many people including blacks felt that Barack Obama born in Hawaii did not have the credentials of a true grit black from the cities, town and other communities of America. Jesse Jackson took umbrage before the elections with Obama calling out blacks on the responsibility question. It follows therefore that it would not be hard to see how even some blacks would feel a lack of connection to Obama.
The fringe nut hate mongers on the right have no compunction about making Obama other than the others, what I find objectionable is that others, some who share the same color as the president somehow feel insulated from the hate they direct at our president. As I stated before there will be a lot of garbage hurled at the president before it is all over, win or lose this will be a dirty election.
Black America has just got to change the way we present ourselves, not for what others think about us , but for what we feel we need to do for ourselves. We must seriously start to feel happiness for the accomplishments of others, particularly other blacks, rather than being envious and resentful. We must begin to conduct ourselves with decorum, which will attract respect rather than revulsion. We must begin to support our own businesses and learn how to take better advantage of the American dream by getting an education, not necessarily college, but education to do something. We must starting taking responsibility for the children we parent, children live what they learn, it is incumbent that we are good examples to our children.
We must start to command respect, rather than demand it.
And finally, African-Americans must stop acting like they are interlopers in their own country, our people must stop being the perennial victim that continue to need sympathy. African-Americans must assert their right to this land. No one has more right to this land more than our people. Our forefathers have paid the price like no other, our people must act like it.