What excuses now? For years, some have made their living by being the ones that people looked to for answers for the underlying causes of certain things that happen in the black community. Most of the responses would be that the residuals of having once been slaves in this country, followed by Jim Crow laws and then the fight for Civil Rights had led to this or that type of behavior. And for the most part, I have agreed with that analysis.
But now we have a biracial man who is now the President of the United States and he has been embraced by the black community as one of our very own. We now have someone as the leader of the free world who looks like us, whose wife and children are the descendants of enslaved Africans. Barack Obama who didn’t come from that mold still managed to break the mold and for that, all of America, no matter your ethnic or racial background can be proud.
America has always been seen in terms of black or white, especially thru the eyes of black Americans. If you are not black in this county, you are given the “token white pass” by this country. I am always amazed at other ethnic groups who proclaim themselves to be a minority, yet they move freely in the white world. When the City of Cicero was known as a place that didn’t take kindly to black people, other “minorities” lived, worked and played there.
Black people have watched as every other ethnic group arrived at our shores, stood on our backs and climbed the ladder to the American dream. For many of those individuals, commonality with language and culture has played a role in their being able to navigate the American experience. They used those bonds to build themselves a common dream and hope without regards to America’s racism.
For black Americans, our common language and culture was based on our shared history of slavery. That experience of the many different African tribe members being merged into one group called Negro while simultaneously separating those members into segments known as house Negro and field Negro. Add into that mixture an identity based on skin color and hair texture, our history has not been one of a unified people. But what we did manage to do in spite of everything was to unify. We had light-complexed blacks who fought for the rights of their darker skinned brothers. We had dark-complexed blacks who have accepted lighter ones without question.
Every ethnic group that has come to this country has establish their own neighborhoods and businesses overcoming the majority of roadblocks that black Americans always seem to encounter. Perhaps it was their “No Speak English” response or closed society that allowed them to prosper. Whatever the secret, black America which at one time knew how to prosper in spite of, now seems lost, since the passage of the Civil Rights Act which has cause us to lose in terms of the black business community than what we gained.
But getting back to the question that I started this column with. As we embark into the era of Obama, a man whose father abandoned him at an early age, who was reared by grandparents, who grew up being the “only” black kid and yet managed to overcome because he subscribed to the audacity of hope even before he knew what it was, at what point does the rest of the black community look at his accomplishments and begin to ask of ourselves, “what excuses now”?
From young black men walking around with their pants beneath their butts, to the profanity laced speech of many individuals in public, what are the excuses for the behavior now? Every morning when I read the paper, I am assaulted with another story of a young person murdered on the streets of Chicago. What excuses now?
Want to be embarrassed by the behavior of our young people? Just drive past many public schools as the children are released at the end of the day. What excuses now? Or the continuous filth up and down the streets here on the Westside. What excuses now?
We have all voted and put our lives and the ability to launch a nuclear attack that could end the world in the hands of one black man. Yet as I drive around the black community, we won’t establish and support businesses owned by black people. What excuses now?
We have put the entire economic future of this country into the leadership of one black man. Yet how many of you refuse to use black owned banks? What excuses now?
As we traverse our future with our new president, the black community has overwhelmingly supported President-Elect Obama message of change. We know that Obama’s election doesn’t mean that it is the elimination of racial problems. But for the black community, let us make the changes that will make a brother proud.
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