On the heals of black history month, and in an effort to not subject Black culture and history to one month of the year, I'd like bring you another piece from an anonymous author that speaks to the state of African-American culture. It is only one person’s (impassioned) opinion, but it is honest and insightful- constructively critical yet simultaneously inspiring- and I hope you enjoy it.
I write this letter with great dismay and concern for the state of our communities. It is out of utmost respect that I put these thoughts on paper, for action. Ultimately, change is imperative. Our people are in an identity crisis. We have forgotten where we have come from, who we are individually and collectively, and what needs to change. Due to the brazen violent attacks in our communities and lack of leadership, I have made it my mission to voice my opinions. I hope my ideas resonate, vibrate, and reach higher levels of consciousness never thought possible, for change is essential for the survival of our people.
Does it concern you that the Afro-American community is in a state of complete disarray and division? Where are our leaders? Are they afraid to step up to the plate and lead? Or is it that we have reached a point of lackluster complacency? How many people have to fall into the abyss of violence? How many times do we have to see the same violent pattern taking hold of brilliant minds? When is enough, enough?
Back in the 60’s and 70’s there were a group of Brothers and Sisters that saw a brighter future for our people. They were the dreamers. I call them the true “Dream Team”. These men and women risked their lives for change and progress. They founded, cradled, and coined the Revolution. They sparked the “Power to the People”, “Black Pride”, and “Black Nationalist” movements that not only revolutionized and made way for the young, but also these movements gave us an identity.
Identity is so important to advancement and purpose of a group of people. Throughout history our identity has been stripped, stolen, dehumanized, lost, altered, denied, and molded into something foreign – something apart from who we inherently are as a people. For this reason, we have never been able to maintain a strong central unified identity.
Afro-centricity has lost its flavor to a distasteful culture filled with more oxymorons than Enron. Our generation is growing up without any morals, or notions of what it means to struggle. They have forgotten the fight that lies within the belly of the beast! But is it completely their fault? Or, should some of this blame be directed at a lack of leadership from our political, civil, community servants?
My definition of a leader is someone who is an example; someone who listens, follows, and aspires to be; someone full of depth and aspiration for a brighter, better future- A light in darkness. A witness to the glories to come – for they are coming. A person of dependability, but most importantly character.
Dependability is an innate characteristic of pragmatic responsibility. Someone who is dependable is reliable in all areas of life, especially the political arena. They not only take responsibility for actions in the communities they represent, but also are trustworthy, impermeable, and strong in their value system. They fulfill promises, raise consciousness and set the standard. In essence they are dynamic – they reflect a unique kind.
Character, a profound word with deep meaning, is an inalienable quality one must possess to echo a true leader. Martin Luther King, Jr. sacrificed himself because he was a man of character. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, he highlights character as an essential right. He wanted his children to grow up with character and people to judge them by the content of that character.
This is to say, a man is defined, in essence by his character. His values are reflected through his character. His decisions are based on character. His leadership qualities emit these vibrations. Moreover, that’s what is missing in our communities on the local, national, and international levels, dignified leaders- Men of character and integrity.
These days, character and other values associated with positive attributes (integrity, honor, and respect) are replaced by violence, pessimism, and negativity. We are being miseducated but more so, in lack of guidance to make that correction. We are at a disenfranchisement, disadvantage- outside the box and below the bar. We are blind: for we can not see truth. We accept a lie as the truth and the truth as a lie. A backwardness caused by our contentment with mediocrity. We have accepted life “as is”. So I ask you, “Where have the dreamers gone”?
From as far back as I can remember, I was taught to hold on to my dreams. No one can ever go wrong with a dream. For to dream is to be free – without restraint. It is also an insightful, objective revolutionary concept. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Clinton to name a few was dreamers. They stood and pushed for their dreams.
The opportunity is here right now! There isn’t a better time than today to be a dreamer, build upon a new vision, and follow through for our communities, our children, and our people. Also, we have to stop looking for others to lead and take responsibility for leadership ourselves --- each and every one of us.
In essence, this vision has to be strong in identity and truth. A vision that fosters progress and does not tolerate mediocrity and violence, instead the dream rises above the status quo to deter violence and replaces it with peace. We have to unify to find a means to our glorious end! Quintessentially, we are byproducts of the “Dream Team”, so let’s come together and shine with endless gleam.
Thank you for your time. I hope this letter triggers something inherent in all of us, something that appears to be lost, but can be found. All we have to do is Dream.