Today we have more Black clergy, doctors, lawyers, educators and elected officials at any point in history.
By MAARAFU Z. OJO
A few days ago, I sat down and loaded ten hours of Eyes on the Prize to send to my sons. It was a re-education that made me realize what our people are capable of doing. Our elders lived under hardships we can only wonder about. The laws of this country were stacked against Black people and were enforced with open violence. If we could go to schools, the schools were so substandard they would be considered shacks, but still, we took education serious. Black homes and communities were places of refuge from the hardships of the outside world. In that world a Black man could be a ditch digger by day and come Sunday, he would put on a suit and tie. He would become Deacon or Brother with serious responsibilities, with respect.
In the words of the great Fanny Lou Hamer "I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
We decided to fight for our own freedom, justice and equality. We stood up against racist laws and the brutality that came with them. The fight was for more than just public accommodations. We fought for civil rights, human rights and full citizenship. One of the things that stood out for me is that the whole family, men, women and the children were on the front lines. Today, fifty years later, we have our children on the front lines in our own communities. We have gotten so used to our children killing each other that we are only here because a member of the security forces, who is not Black, killed one of our children.
Truth be told, our children have been killing each other for years now. We shouldn’t be outraged, we should be enraged. The justice system has never been a friend to our people. Why should we be outraged when they pass laws that they can hide behind when they kill our people? This is not new. What is new is that Black people are not fighting the law. What has happened to us? Why are we offering up our children as sacrifices to this racist system? Why do we have so many children who don’t value human life?
Today we have more Black clergy, doctors, lawyers, educators and elected officials at any point in history. We are 12 percent of this country and we fill the prisons and not the schools. I ask you, would we be outraged if Trayvon was killed by another Black youth for his Air Jordan’s?
One solution is for so called Black men of conscious to gather up ten to twelve Black male youths and mentor them every weekend. I did that when I came back from the Million Man March and it made a huge difference. There is no better feeling than when grown men tell you, years later, thank you for taking an interest in me, or they’ve decided to be a father to their children or that they have no children out of wedlock or that they’ve graduated from college or have no criminal record because of your involvement with them as boys.
If we don’t do it, who will? When are we going to get sick and tired of being sick and tired?
3/25/2012. He is a community activist and freelance writer. He can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org