I started writing this post immediately after the Zimmerman verdict. I decided to step away from it in order to cool my emotions and write logically and analytically. Bill O’Reilly fucked that up. Don Lemon fucked that up. The Supreme Court and the disintegration of VRA fucked that up. Moral Mondays in NC fucked that up. However, I’ve come back to the post with my head clear (as can be). Let’s read on:
George Zimmerman will not be held responsible for his actions. While Black folk shouldn’t be surprised, surely we tried to retain a bit of hope that the times would reflect change in this country and justice, whatever that looks like, would be served. Not so.
As we deal with this cold reality, our emotions, ranging from fear and disappointment to anger and resentment, we are left to wonder what’s next for us as a people. After all, we’ve tried everything; integration, assimilation and even out-right demands to truly be accepted as equals in the very country our ancestors were forced to and that we are born in. Despite countless efforts by thousands of Blacks, many of whom gave their lives, we’ve yet to truly accomplish that goal. Of course there exceptions to every rule; your Oprahs and Bill Cosbys of this country, but it doesn’t begin to even scratch the surface of what the average Black person has had to deal with everyday of our lives.
So how do we move forward? How do we continue to live in and be part of an American society that considers us either entertainment, problematic, or opportunities for political pawns when convenient? How do not spend every waking moment in fear or enraged?
The accomplishment of smaller goals are necessary in order to move on to the greater organized goal of true liberation in America for Blacks. First, understand my head-space: The death of Trayvon changed me forever. It has changed my scope, my thinking, my beliefs. I will never forget this moment, the subsequent movement it sparked and the long road ahead. I hope, with all of me, that all of us are willing to put our interests as a collective ahead of our individual interests and work towards true change for our lives as a people in a country where we are made to feel valueless. I decided to write a pledge to myself and my community, using this public forum, so that is documented and seen by many. I hope that you will decide to join me.
1. I will deprogram myself from what this society has taught (and continues to teach) me about my people. This means no longer getting my news of the world from major media outlets. It sets me up for the false belief that we are barbaric animals, incapable of logic and reason. While there will be Blacks who commit crimes, I understand that this counts as only a small portion of my community and will do my best not to aid in carrying any deceptive bones to others, making us fear one another. I will research for myself, the happenings of our world. I will befriend others from other countries. I will unplug from this social matrix.
2. I will rid myself of destructive behaviors. This includes drug use, alcohol, and any other mind-altering substances. Also, I will monitor what my children and I take in as entertainment; the movies and music that pollute our thinking and weakens the morale of our community. Although it tempting to individualize ourselves according to our separate interests, we cannot afford to have only our individual interests in mind. I will stop supporting these messages that advocate hate of women of color, my community and myself.
3. I will put family first. I will do my part in the repair of broken relationships and help those who may not be able. This may prove difficult but the effort is truly worth it. I understand that we don’t have to like one another, but we must respect each other and be willing to stand together in solidarity. I will not settle differences using the very violence that was founded and promoted by this country. I will think beyond what we are taught.
4. I will attempt to correct the behaviors of the youth and not turn my head simply because they were not birthed to me. I will not fear them; respectful and patient guidance is what they respond to. I will be a mother to the motherless, an educator, neighbor and friend.
5. I will learn a skill or trade that will help advance our chances of creating our own businesses or to simply live better. I will support Black businesses. They often go out of business because of their larger, corporate-owned competitors or even the more well-established small businesses, usually owned by immigrants. I will research the businesses in my community to see if they can meet my needs before I spend my money with businesses who’s profits do not replenish the community. I will encourage my children to enter the medical, science, engineering and construction fields. It could be something as simple as buying a microscope as a gift or a trip to a development site to ask questions about how buildings are built. I can help spark an interest in careers other than athletics and entertainment.
6. I will divorce myself from consumerism. Jewelry, cars and clothes with familiar labels and expensive price tags do nothing to keep me out of debt or increase my savings. I will define my own cool. Celebrity adoration also harms me, so I will not emulate a million dollar lifestyle on, often times, a poor man’s income.
7. I will educate my children at home, even though they attend school most of day. I will schedule two to three days of week to OUR history since I know it is not taught in American schools. We will make weekly visits to the library and read about our greatness as a family. I will make our next movie rental a documentary about our ancestors.
8. I will follow the laws of this country, continue to stand behind important causes and pay my dues but that will be where it ends. My motto is “I am in it, but not of it”. I understand the importance of liberation. I am not made to cover myself from head to toe and walk so many feet behind a man. I am not forced into the streets, beaten and raped by armed men. I am not starving. My genitalia has not been mutilated via ritualism. I was not forced into an arranged marriage or sold into sexual slavery. I can vote, protest and challenge laws without fear for my life. So while I understand and appreciate that I am liberated from many circumstances, it does not negate that I am not by others.
As we come upon the 50 year anniversary of the famous “March on Washington” this week, I am keeping in mind that we have are own personal marches to commit to, starting at home in our own neighborhoods. We are here. The chances of us going anywhere are rather slim. I propose we make the best of it FOR us, not in SPITE of the issues we often confront. In other words, instead of continuing to fight that “up-hill” battle, let’s create another road altogether.
(Pics Source: Google Images)