This generation, especially for our people, has a burden, more so than any other time in history. The most important thing that we can learn to do today is to think for ourselves.
Malcolm X, December 31, 1964.
I’m not sure if Malcolm addressed this quote to people of his time specifically, or if he had a hunch that generations so forth could relate to this quote. Can you believe this was said 52 years ago? My mother is that age. Time has an effect on how we respond to certain situations. An essential factor in the determination of how one responds to or acts in a given set of circumstances is invariably predicated upon how one perceives and defines those circumstances (Ricks, T., 1969). If Malcolm were with me today, I could only agree with him. The most important thing that we can learn to do today is to think for ourselves. The mind is such a terrible thing to waste.
For so long, Black men and women have been exploited and denied respect. With current generations feeling a shadow of the past drawing over them, one must understand that it is exhausting for us to hope for a better future when we barely have our present. It is because, before us, invisible walls were put in place to deny and erase our valuable existence. Not for what we have done, do, or plan. This predestined assumption that we as Black men and women are less than whole simply springs from the fact that we are colored.
Let me tell you something; get to know your history. If you do not you will allow anyone to tell you who you are and why you deserve to be treated as trash. You have to know the ins-and-out- of this world. In other words, the structures put in place for people like you and me, and those not for people like you and me- they actually do exist. These two distinctions are also known as gaps in society.
The gaps in society, as a result of segregation, help define the complex term, ghetto. Once used to distinguish a quarter of the sixteenth-century city of Venice (Clark, 1965: 11). It later became associated with the section of a city in which any large minority lived and it further became associated with poverty and oppression (Ricks, T., 1969). Essentially, this definition was generated to determine a wide spread of common like individuals in one area. To this day, you can speak on the ghettos in society and find a commonality. What society fails to acknowledge is that poverty is that commonality, not race. Race, however, is just as important to recognize as a means used to alienate a certain group of people, on the basis of structure. Though defining race is not what will improve the ghetto, this can only be done if we as a society sum up poverty. To this end, we must immerse ourselves in education.
As a Black man, you may see the glimmer of a better structure from a platform you've been placed on and tied down to. Although the colony is physically separated from the White world, it is still able to see from behind the wall which surrounds it. The Black ghetto colony views the American society, of which it is at the bottom, by means of the mass communication media (Clark, 1965: 12-13). Better may seem outside of your reach. Nevertheless, what goes up must come down. How will you strategically rise up and break your barrier down, Black man? Just as you see them, they see you. They know you are there. They do not want you to come out, nor do they expect you to. Do the unexpected, for your colony. Do not cease until you feel free. If still, you ask, what is freedom to a Black man? You’ve come to the right place.
You do not have to compare yourself to something you obviously are not. So when you see your structure, wide husk frame, big nose, lips, and teeth, do not hate what physiologically defines you. Do not cover up, undo yourself, or vanish from this community in order to obtain what the White man has. An absence of your presence is a denial of our progress. What the White man has was yours before his declaration of it; remember this first and foremost before making your list of goals. You do not need to integrate yourself into a portion of society that will never see you capable only because you are Black instead of broke. Even a White broke man wishes he was Whiter and richer. You are neither of these. As Henry David Thoreau once said, a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
In other words, get rid of that tired mindset that you must be like the White man, or you must be rich to be somebody. No. You can only be who you are and nothing less than who you are as a Black Man. Now, if society is telling you that you are less than a Black man, tell them to remove the term ‘Black’ and then ask them who you are. I bet they won't be able to figure out since there is no such thing as less than a man. In society, a man is never less than anything. He is the head and not the tail, even when a Black man is designated there.
Stay with me my brother; I am going to tell you the way out because as a Black woman, it serves me purpose. You may feel as if you are powerless. In fact, I am certain you’ve been told you are. Indeed this is true.
This is only true because of history and power structures elevated by events in time. So when you wonder why Justin Bieber is praised for his ghetto look amongst any other Black rapper, or why Black men and women are killed by government officials on a daily basis and only get a slap on the wrist, this is exactly why: they are White. Do not sell yourself short with this way of thinking. You were born with the asset of critical thinking; and if you disagree, upgrade yourself, Black man, educate yourself, and question everything.
Your thoughts will linger from time to time. If you’re searching for a way out, slow down and find all that which restrains you. This is what is keeping you my brother. If you’re holding on to poison, let it go. If it is holding on to you, get rid of it. Your dreams are important so make them irresistible-not irrational. The mass media are able to penetrate the Black ghetto colony and to saturate the Black residents with the American myths of equality, freedom, justice, and individuality. The mass media are capable of making Black people dream of acquiring these myths which have been promised to all but delivered to none (Ricks, T., 1969). Stop waiting on your deliverance. Go get it back.
Black men are Black women’s colony. We need you to promote yourself in our community, educate yourselves, use that knowledge to spark the unconscious mind and ratify your being while contradicting the White man’s theory of you. We’re only here for God only knows how long. With that said, I leave you these words. Know your worth. Knowledge is power. Peace.■
RICKS, T. (1969) “Black Revolution: A Matter of Definition.” The American Behavioral Scientist (pre- 1986); Mar/Apr 1969; 12, 4; ABI/INFORM Global. Pg. 21.
CLARK, K.B. (1965) Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of social Power. New York: Harper & Row [A study of ghetto life in Harlem].