Feb 01, 2011 @ 10:51 am | By TheFeministGriote | 4 Comments
“I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madame C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Lou Hamer was a bridge.” -Oprah Winfrey
Today marks the first day of Black History Month in this new decade. In the past decade there have been many accomplishments to add to the national Black progress report. We finally have a Black family residing in the White House and they’re not part of the housekeeping staff. The election of President Barack Obama has many Black people singing “we shall overcome” with new vigor and purpose. The election of the first Black President is a huge ‘e’ for effort in the Black progress report that has inspired people of color around the globe. Like Jay-z said: “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so we can all fly,” but as tempting as it to say that America is now post-racial, that we are all now sitting at the table of brotherhood, and there is no need to scream “I’m Black & I’m proud,” I would not advise you to put your Black rage out to pasture just yet, we still have a whole lotta work that needs to be done collectively and individually!
Being Black in America is still tough and sometimes dangerous. Oscar Grant is a perfect recent example of how dangerous being Black in America can be. He was unarmed when he was gunned down by officer Johannes Mehserle in the Bay area. Schools in heavily populated Black and brown areas are still not up to par and are unable to educate minority students for global competition. Kelly Williams -Bolar who lives in a project in Akron, Ohio decided not to wait ‘for superman’ she took matters into her own hands, she wanted her two daughters to have an exceptional education she was forced to lie about her address, so that she could enroll her children in a better school in another district in order for her children to have a fighting chance in America. Kelley Williams-Bolar is now facing 10 days in jail and three years probation for wanting to give her kids the best possible education. Also according to the Institute on assets and social policy ISAP which came out with a study in May 2010, that stated that the wealth gap between whites and Blacks has quadrupled and there is now a $95,000 wealth gap between the races. Lest we forget the 15.8% unemployment rate within the Black community compared to the 8.5% among whites. It is safe to conclude that we have much more ‘overcoming’ to do as a people.
With all of that said Blacks in America are in a precarious situation. On one hand we have great accomplishments to bolster, but on the other hand we are still struggling to have the basics. On this first day of Black History Month I am asking that we all recommit and reevaluate what it means to be Black in America. As Black people in these United States we went from operating from a collective standpoint to a capitalist individual vantage point. We can no longer afford to operate like that anymore. We must get politically and socially involved in our community and country as a whole again. That means we can’t wait to vote ONLY during the presidential elections, we must support Black businesses in our areas, we must show up to PTA meetings & be more visible in our children’s, nieces, nephews, god-children, little brothers & sisters education, we must familiarize ourselves with classic Black literature we can read other books outside of Zane and Steve Harvey, think Marita Golden, Zora Neale Hurston, Edwidge Danticat. Lets also stop perpetuating the divide among Black men and women and start to look at each other as equals and not as opponents.
This Black History month pledge to be more proactive in trying to solve the ills in your community. As people of color it behooves us to partner up with other minorities. We must fight alongside our Latino brothers and sisters and stop listening to the right wings who are telling us that immigrants are taking”our jobs” and we also can’t forget about the LGBTQIA(lesbian/gay/ bisexual/ transgender/ questioning/ intersex/ally) community . We can’t continue to allow the dominant culture to compartmentalize us and use fear mongering tactics to keep us divided. I am not saying we should all get guns and wear berets, but what we can do is get informed and galvanize for a good cause. We must stop waiting for some Negro savior to come and save us ALL we must save ourselves!
What does Black History mean to you & what do you plan to do to help in your community?
Categories: Mind Over Chatter