Too often do we find ourselves wrapped in the blanket of luxury, shaded from the sheets of snow that someone else finds shelter in. Someone always has it worse, but our limited viewpoints see our issues and opportunities as superior to those of others.
The issue is that we never stop to listen to, understand, and respect each other. It’s easy to create judgments looking through the lens behind the TV screen, so many distorted glass layers removed from the wars being fought inside another man’s window.
The African American community in the country is a rich one with a beautiful culture and history despite tribulations transcending the past and stretching into the present day.
Children in primarily Black and Latino neighborhoods are targeted and nudged toward prison from a young age. This is a result of the school-to-prison pipeline discussed in Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." The harsh school policies in already disadvantaged districts set our youth up for failure.
Often, even teachers lose faith in their students. Young men and women in these schools are made to believe that very few people believe in them, so how are they supposed to believe in themselves?
Jay Z, a known advocate fighting against racial discrimination, has pushed for more psychiatrists in schools to combat the pipeline. They have the power to listen to and motivate these kids because that is exactly what they lack. Jay Z’s personal background in a single parent household, drug dealing to get ahead, and incarceration is what pushes him to reach higher. But his success story is not that of every person of color in this country. Most are unable to break free of the frozen chains that chill the nurturing arms of the hood.
We fall to handcuffs, to bullets, and to one another’s claws, desperate to crawl ahead.
But it’s important to understand that our pain is not all that defines us.
We are a community rich in our influence in artistry, athletics, and academics when motivated to succeed.
Why is it that when we celebrate our excellence through the accomplishments of our movies like "Black Panther," or our students like Micheal Brown who has been accepted and given a full ride to 20 colleges, we are faced with hate? We are called “too black” or “obnoxious” when we demonstrate our strength through adversity. This is the resilient beauty of our culture that we fight so hard to defend. Listen closer when we roar, because we sure as hell have something to say.
We won’t quiet our voices in complacency to the comfort taken from those covered from confrontation. Their misused influence will never deliver us the bliss of ignorance.
Welcome to the reality of my beautiful Black America. It’s not somewhere over the rainbow or in a land far away. It’s in the ice-filled cracks of our unpaved streets, of our unplastered walls, and not everything is fine. Yet not only do we survive, we find new ways to thrive. Tell me again how easy it is for anyone to make it here.