I got an e-mail from a long time friend today and it inspired me to write this................
I once wanted to be a black hero. I’m not talking about the kind that leaps tall buildings or stops bullets with his teeth. I’m talking about a hero to my people. I used to spend hours reading up on the black experience in America and thinking about ways to make it better. I studied Garvey, DuBois, King, Malcolm and the Panthers. I used to sit up at night watching Minister Farrakhan on TV so much that my dad actually asked if I was going to join the nation. I desired to be anti-establishment. I wanted to have a legacy. I dreamt of being a symbol of black progress and revolution. Then something happened. I became an average everyday brother.
I’m not sure if it was the free money, dropping out of college, the long hours of drinking and strip clubs, or meeting a few cool white guys. For some reason, I became comfortable with my place in the world. I became less and less concerned with the plight of my people. It didn’t hurt to see drug addicts anymore. Record murder rates became an afterthought. The public education system was failing and I could care less. None of my kids were there. I had become the narrow minded, woman chasing, not a care brother that I used to hate. I lost my fire and passion for the cause.
I’m not alone in this journey. There are many young brothers and sisters in my generation who had big intentions on bringing change to the world and making their mark in society. As we got older, lots of us became more concerned with stock options, 401K plans, and credit reports. We are self absorbed, young black adults of the “all about me” era. The fire is there but it’s hard to get it burning the right way. The reason for this is simple. Our cup appears to be half full now. We can’t maintain the spirit of the generations before us because they had no cup. Forty years ago, oppression and discrimination was blatant and obvious. The young, talented members of the black community educated and organized themselves for the challenge of changing society for the benefit of their generation and the ones to follow. They did a great job and sacrificed allot. Somewhere along the way, the line was blurred and the struggle became second to personal achievement. We believe we can enjoy personal and professional gain while friends and family are trapped in an abyss of crime, poverty, and self hate. That is the great lie about the American Dream for black people and we fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
So how do we get the fire burning again in the midst of the current situation? It has been easy for me. I have a one year old daughter now. On my way to work, I drive around the city and see young beautiful black faces with innocent eyes full of hope and promise. I get energized because I know they will be growing into a world that many of them will be unprepared for and it’s our fault. We are obligated. I may not ever be as revered as Dr. King or Brother Malcolm and I am fine with that. What matters to me is that I never lose site of the big picture and work hard at being the best father, friend, boyfriend, husband, student, employee and human being I can be. If we can all strive for this goal, the fire will burn bright and we will all be heroes in our own way and our legacies will be fulfilled.