It is absolutely normal for Black folks to want to exude pride in our history, but sadly it is apparent that we have gone way overboard in the process.
It is imperative that we stop moving from one point to the next in history, in the same manner we do as driving our cars from one point to another in the physical world. History is for looking to get our bearings or sense of presence, not dwelling or lingering upon… as a way of life.
From a politically correct viewpoint, for example when I pull out of my driveway, I merely glance over my shoulder to circumvent any obstacles that may be behind me.
However, after I take that cursory glance, if I want to reach my destination, once I am out of the driveway I have to look forward, not backwards. So if we hope to ever move forward in this society, that is exactly what the Black community must do as a whole. We cannot move forward while looking backward.
Proponents of Black History will oftentimes say, “You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you have been.” Even though that is a humorous precept, it is not exactly true. Personally, a more correct version of that axiom is, “You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you are…”
If you are lost, it does not matter where you have been, what is important is determining where you currently are relative to where you want to go.
In that regard, if we spent half as much time focusing on who we currently are as we do talking about how great we once were, our problems would have long since been left behind. Although Black people have proven beyond any doubt that we have brilliant and creative minds, far too many of us waste our intellect flippantly and unsubstantially.
Rather than working tenaciously towards achieving a goal and moving forward, we instead waste all our ingenuity and originality
partying, showboating and trying to style as if our history has already proven our value as human beings.
Here’s the truth: it has not. Additionally, If we want respect, and if we want the world to recognize our value as human beings, we are going to have to recognize that our greatness lies before us and not behind us. Just walking around in African dresses, headwear, dashiki and braids, with an exotic sounding name is not enough to define who we are, primarily because most mainstream people are simply too polite to point out one inescapable facet of our history… As famous and distinguished as we claim we once were, we still ended up as slaves, and that is a fact and truth that cannot be explained away. We need to focus on who we are today and where we intend to go.
Blacks are the people of the future, not the past. Our past – both good and bad – has simply contributed to our evolution.
Do not take aim, but instead hear me out. There are many who will say, “But it is crucial for everyone to know and take pride in their history.” Yes, I agree that may be so, but it is not half as important as knowing who you currently are and exactly where you want to go in life.
So it is more essential that we focus on who we are NOW, than always trying to convince people of whom we once were. If we were once a great people, we should still be a great people, so instead of always bragging about how great we once were, let us focus on rediscovering that greatness as we move into the future, and instead of depending on dead men and women to give us a sense of pride, let us instead develop the kind of skill, knowledge and character to become our own heroes. That is what makes a people great.
Black folks need to make the pursuit of knowledge the new “soul” and make themselves known for wisdom, intellect and knowledge. In this way, when any Black person applies for a job, the employer will immediately think: “Yes, I will hire him, because these people are known for their brilliance.”
But that is not what we’re known for today. We are currently known for our ability to twerk, rhyme, and sag, so little wonder we are struggling.
Due to the unique position of the African-American in legitimate modern history, Blacks come to the game with a decided disadvantage. Consequently, African-Americans do not have the machinery in place to effectively promote the hype necessary to fully participate in the history game. But since, in any event, the game only serves to divert our attention from what is really important – getting on with the business of building true viability as a people – Black participation in the game is nothing more than an exercise in me-too-ism.
We must begin to understand that we are a new culture. We ceased being Africans when it became necessary to adapt to the fields and ghettos of Canada or America.
The uniquely pointed adversity that we have experienced makes us more, rather than less. Thus, we are a culture that is only now in the infancy of its development. And the fact that we are a new culture in no way translates to mean that we are anything less than the older cultures; it simply means that our greatest contribution to man lies before us.
We do not have to look back to the distant past to find a source of pride, all we have to do is study the life and times of our parents, our grandparents, and that generation of Black people born between the turn of the century and WWII. And since adversity is experience, and experience translates into knowledge, we do not have anything to be ashamed of.
Conclusively, we must also take pride in our own personal journeys, and realize that in our own journey through life, history is also being made. One does not have to be a world conqueror to have an impact on the history of mankind, you simply have to make decisions in your personal life that helps to enhance and move your people forward towards their appointment with destiny – and every time you face life’s obstacles with courage and perseverance, you meet that challenge.
After all, decisions are not made in a vacuum; every decision that you make in life becomes a public decision. People are watching, your children are watching, and if you nurture your children properly, they will make the character of your decisions an indelible part of the public record. Thus, the character that we reflect in your daily conduct carries the seed that our children will carry with them for generations.