Over the summer we have had a lot of activism in the African-American community in the form of marching and demonstrating. Many gathered together to protest the verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case. Thousands gathered to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington. These are important events in which we should participate, however, our participation or activism shouldn’t end with these marches and demonstrations. Marches and demonstrations are mostly symbolic. Too many times, in the past as well as in the present, we go to the march only to hear inspiring speeches. Everyone talks about what we need to do to heal and to repair our community. It all sounds great and we all feel good about being a part of a historic event, but then we go home and go back to old patterns of behavior that aren’t helping us. Speeches can inspire, but in and of themselves they can’t bring about change. People coming together to march can’t bring about change, either. The real power comes from God and the changes He makes in people’s hearts and minds – renewing or igniting a desire for real change and enabling us with the power to follow through. It is only this power that will allow us to act and engage in the real activism: the choices and contributions we make on a daily basis that will lead us to move forward.
Activism is not something people do one day as a special event. It’s not something you do twice a week. It can’t be relegated to a checklist. Activism is a state of consciousness that manifests itself in our lifestyle. Real activism lies in the decisions we make every single day. It is the little things we do, as well as the big things. If you’re a mother, but you don’t take the time to properly teach your children right from wrong, send them to school on time, make sure they do their homework and get a good education, or spend time with them, then you shouldn’t bother going to the civil rights rally. If you’re a man who’s making babies with as many women you can find and you’re not taking care of any of them, you’re wasting your time marching. If you’re a wealthy African-American entrepreneur, but you don’t want to be bothered with being a mentor to the younger generation because you’re afraid of what your mainstream associates will think, what’s the point of attending that rally? If you’re an African-American entertainer and you market degrading images and lyrics to your own people, you’d probably do better to stay in your bed and get some sleep than attend an issues forum. If you are a politician or activist and you’re receiving money from people who are complicit in the destruction of the community, save your speech for some fancy luncheon. Let’s not be like the Pharisees that were around when Jesus walked the earth. Think about what Jesus said about them:
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (Matthew, 23: 5-7)
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. (Matthew 23: 28 – 31)
So we need to ask ourselves the hard questions about why we march. Is our marching to put on a show? Are we marching for our own selfish profit: to curry favor, get votes, or new customers? Do we go to make ourselves feel good or feel like we’re a part of something? Is marching a token gesture that helps to mollify our conscience so that we can keep on with our destructive behaviors?
You can’t be an activist if all you care about is getting in a few sound bites for the news stations, or pandering for voters to win an election. It’s not about having a captive audience to promote your latest album, book, film, or other business venture. It’s not about looking good in front of your friends, nor is it about being able to say you’re ‘different’ from other less educated African-Americans, or to show how you’ve ‘arrived’. So many of our people, gather together at these rallies, demonstrations and marches to give eloquent speeches about honoring the legacy of Martin, Medgar, Rosa, Fred, and the others who risked everything to make things better for us, but then after the march is over manage to desecrate the gains that God worked through these people to make for us. How can you say you honor Martin, but you’re walking around with your pants hanging down, using the n-word like a pronoun, smoking marijuana, refusing to get your education, and selling death to your people? Martin didn’t die so you could hang out on the corner or collect government subsidies. How can one say that he or she honors Medgar, yet when they get to a position of power they refuse to reach back into the community? If you say you honor Rosa and Coretta, why are you twerking or doing ‘the booty shake’ and posting it on the internet? Why are you settling for the role of ‘baby momma’? How can you say you honor our rich legacy when you refuse to do business with your own people? We have African-Americans serving as a lucrative market for other people EXCEPT their own. You say the memory of Emmitt and Trayvon are important to you, and yet your own children are neglected and have been left to raise themselves while you chase the dollar. This is not right!!!!
Enough with the symbols! Enough with all the talk! Goodness knows I’m sick of writing about it, too. It’s time to really DO SOMETHING! You don’t have to be the executive secretary of the National Action Network to make a difference. You don’t have to be the President of the United States. You don’t have to have money like Oprah. Remember it’s the little things that count like deciding where to shop, or deciding whether or not to call in sick or do your job like you’re supposed to. If you’re not sure what you should be doing, allow me to offer a few suggestions:
Get a (legal) job even if you don’t get paid, and even if you have to make it yourself. Find something positive that you know how to do, work as hard as you can, and market it.
If you need additional education, swallow your pride, go back to school and get that, too. So what if you never did well in school. Figure out why you didn’t do well and make steps to change it this time around. Don’t settle for less than the best you can be.
Stop making drama and babies you can’t afford with these women out here. If you don’t really like her, stay out of her bed and if you think you’re in love then stop wasting time and marry her. If you’re not ready for marriage, then step aside and let her find someone who is. In the meantime, work on yourself and not your ‘mack’.
If you have kids, take care of them. If you don’t have money to spend, then spend time. Teach them whatever you know, but DO NOT PASS DOWN THAT STREET THUG NONSENSE. Go to parent-teacher conferences. Volunteer at your child’s school. Be a good role model and example.
Lose the bad habits (drugs/alcohol) if you have any unless you want your kids to pick them up and/or destroy your own life.
Tear down those stupid “Godfather”, “Scarface”, and “Sopranos” shrines you have in your crib. Yes, I have seen the shrines! For an African-American to idolize these guys is like a Jewish person idolizing Hitler. Honestly, have you no sense?
For those men who have jobs, money, and influence, you need to stop worrying about how the majority view your activities and just trust God and do the right thing. Mentor your own. God controls this world, not people. Don’t let anyone scare you with that ‘race card’ nonsense because when they accuse you of playing a ‘race card’, you can tell them such an accusation in and of itself is a ‘race card’, too.
Read! Read! Read! – (The Bible in particular) Get out from in front of the TV and Read! Too many black men suffer because they are misinformed about who they are, where they came from, and what the real deal is down here and it’s a shame. So many of our problems would be solved if brothers would just open a book!
Stop tearing down other brothers! If you see another brother that’s got it going on, don’t hate – appreciate. Ask him about how he got his or try to learn something from him.
Your education should be your first priority, not parties. Go to school everyday and work hard. Be respectful to your teachers and classmates. If you’re having a hard time keeping up, ask the guidance counselor or other adult about getting tutoring. If you make good grades try to make a deal with the teacher so he or she won’t put it on blast.
Leave the drugs and alcohol alone. I don’t care who or how many are doing it – you shouldn’t.
Stay out of the club – you’re not missing anything. It smells there most of the time anyway.
Stay away from the guys who aren’t going anywhere, and I don’t care how much street cred they have, and no, they can’t protect you. Think of it this way, if God wants you to live there’s no thug powerful enough to get you, and if God wants to call you home, there’s no thug strong enough to keep you alive. God is not afraid of guns.
Instead of hanging out on the corner doing nothing but serving as cop bait, or thug target practice, go to the library and read a book about your ancestors and your history. Read the Bible.
Once again, DO NOT HANG OUT IN THE STREET. STAY AWAY FROM NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS AND SCHOOL YARDS – ESPECIALLY DURING THE SUMMER. Play basketball or any other sport in your own backyard or in an indoor facility. Talk to your friends inside your house, their house, a restaurant (not the red and white chicken places, mind you), the library, the movies, or some other INDOOR space. I would even avoid outdoor events like free concerts, and bootleg block parties, as trouble tends to roam at these kinds of things.
STAY AWAY FROM HOUSE PARTIES! THERE IS ALWAYS TROUBLE THERE. THIS IS WHERE MOST OF THE SO CALLED BEEFS GET STARTED. DUDES WHO COME TO THESE THINGS WILL START A BEEF WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU FARTED NEAR THEM. JUST STAY AWAY!
Get involved with your church or a civic organization and give back. Be a big brother or tutor little kids who need help.
Don’t worry about proving your manhood with these girls. A real man is one who can provide for his seed, not just spread it.
DON’T EVER GET INTO A FIGHT OVER A GIRL – NO MATTER WHO SHE IS, SHE’S NOT WORTH IT! TOO MANY FEMALES ON THIS PLANET TO FIGHT OVER ONE.
If you’re single, focus on developing you, your relationship with God and your career. Don’t worry about looking for Mr. Right. If it’s in God’s plan it will happen. If it’s not, nothing you do can make it
Smile – it won’t break your face.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
Don’t believe him when he says he’s married/in a relationship but he’s having problems with his wife/girlfriend and is going to leave her soon. This is really old, ladies. If you fall for it you might as well put an idiot sticker on your forehead.
Don’t believe every single “I love you”. If he really loves you, he’ll offer to marry you.
Tell him the next step is not ‘living together’, it’s marriage.
Just because you can be a single-mother doesn’t mean you should. Children need fathers, so choose wisely.
If he walks away from you, don’t take him back unless there’s children involved. If he’s a beater, you
NEVER take him back unless he’s shown real signs of change (attending therapy, has been in a relationship with someone else and has not been abusive during that time).
If you’re happily married, treat your man with respect that is due and don’t use the white man measuring stick to rate him – it’s not fair.
Don’t treat men like ATM’s. If you want something, buy it yourself.
Don’t drink the feminist poison kool-aid. There is no freedom in sexual promiscuity. I mean really ladies, think about it – what man wouldn’t want all women to be sexually promiscuous. You’re not hurting him at all! Now he has more women to choose from and he doesn’t have to commit to any of you! And notice that Madonna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Rihanna (she and Chris really didn’t make it, despite rumors) are…alone. You know why, because no one wants to marry or even have a relationship with a human toilet.
Take down the Beyonce shrine – don’t try to justify and say she has a positive message, she doesn’t. What kind of message does she send when she’s doing her stripper imitation? In any case, like her music, if you must, but please don’t make her into your idol.
STOP IT WITH THE OVERPRICED HANDBAGS AND SHOES!
If you have kids, you need to focus on taking care of them. They didn’t ask to come here and as such you should be doing everything within your power to provide a good life for them. They deserve to have a mom like Claire Huxtable or Harriet Winslow. You should make their breakfast, iron their clothes for school, be there to ask them how their day went, help them with their homework and spend time with them. You know you would want someone to do that for you, so shouldn’t you do that for the children you say you love?
If you aren’t married and have children, stop trying to imitate ‘Desperate Housewives’ with all of the
drama of bringing no good men into your house – and yes, you know he’s no good. All he does is bluster and bully, if he doesn’t beat you and the kids, and spends money like water. Get rid of him by any means necessary. Don’t have a baby for him. As a matter of fact, don’t be one of those women that has a ‘souvenir child’ for every guy she’s dated. Having one baby daddy is an honest mistake, having two is embarrassing, but having three or more is just plain stupid.
Stay in school and get your education. This should be your first priority, not the cute guy in your math class.
Don’t wait until you have two kids to decide you want to go to college. You don’t know how sick I am of hearing these young women talk about how they don’t want to go to college. Instead they want to hang out on the street with these boys. Then when they get pregnant, and have a baby, they say they want to go back to school. College comes first! You just can’t bring a life into the world then neglect it to get what you want! People with sense have the children after they establish themselves so they can focus on their child without so much distraction. You can’t work, go to school, and care for kids at the same time without the children having to suffer – and I don’t care what some fake ‘supermom’ or ‘superdad’ says (It’s always ‘supermom’ going to pick up her son from jail or take care of her 14 year old daughter’s baby). So stop worrying about the guys and worry about fulfilling the purpose and plan God has for your life.
If you already have that baby: your mom didn’t have that baby, you did. Now you are the one that needs to step up. Your mom will babysit if you are going to school or work. Don’t you dare ask her to babysit while you go out with your friends unless you’re ready to pay her.
Hold off on dating until you’re in college. Find out who you are before you start to worry about what someone else wants you to be.
Don’t date guys who are a lot older than you. All they want to do is manipulate you and use you. Since they are older and have been around, they’ll succeed no matter how street smart you think you are.
DON’T EVER GET INTO A FIGHT OVER A GUY! NO MATTER WHO HE IS, HE’S NOT WORTH IT! TOO MANY BROTHERS OUT THERE TO FIGHT OVER ONE –AND NO, THEY’RE NOT ALL IN JAIL, SO DON’T SETTLE.
To The Community
STOP THROWING YOUR MONEY AWAY IN A FUTILE ATTEMPT TO BUY SELF ESTEEM. YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU CAN’T PAY YOUR RENT, BUT YOU HAVE MONEY FOR $300.00 NIKE’S? I don’t think there are any sneakers on this earth that are worth $300.00, and I don’t care if King Solomon came back from the dead to design them. The same goes for shoes, handbags, weaves, or anything else someone can make. Think of how much money we could have if we just bought less expensive no-frills brands that are of the same quality (and I don’t buy into the idea that the more expensive something is the better the quality. I have seen $500.00 designer sweaters pilling on the rack in the store, while something I was wearing that was cheaper looked better after having been worn for five years). And please don’t respond by telling me what people of other cultures do with their money. They’re not the ones in crisis, WE ARE.
SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!
SPEND MONEY ON THINGS THAT GENERATE INCOME such as investments, property, retirement accounts, 401k’s, degrees, inventory, building your business, etc.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF! At the end of the day, you always have a choice. Stop blaming others for your problems. Stop blaming the police for your DWI arrest – no one poured alcohol down your throat and forced you to drive at gunpoint. Stop blaming the system. I don’t care if your accusation is valid. Stop focusing on what happened and focus on what you have to do now to get things right. If you were abused, or hurt in the past, then you can’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity or grief. Don’t let tragedies stop you from being your best you. Stop looking for the government handouts. If you can game the system for that SSI check, you can game the education complex for a diploma. The latter is much easier. Get up and try something. God will help you if you ask in faith.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR COMMUNITY! You shouldn’t be littering your neighborhood or tagging or destroying the building you live in. The reason why the ghetto looks bad, and smells bad is because the people that live in the buildings don’t care for their community. It is not the super’s job to keep cleaning up after you. You should care enough about your own living space and your own health to take care of where you live. If the building is falling apart from normal wear and tear you and other tenants in the building need to raise your voice and let the manager and owners know and if they don’t respond, you will file a class action suit and take them to court. If your neighborhood school stinks, raise your voice. Find like-minded people and start making some phone calls and visits and don’t stop until something gets done. You want job readiness and training programs for your community, get together with brothers and sisters and make them. If the children are threatened by gangs, then adults need to enact curfews and patrol the streets at night. I don’t know why as a people we keep waiting on a government that we know doesn’t deliver. When are we going to wise up!
LOVE ONE ANOTHER! STOP HATING ON EACH OTHER! We African Americans are always hating on each other. It’s time to stop. Every other ethnic group will seek out their own and patronize their own. They support their businesses and institutions and their entrepreneurs and entertainers don’t go out of their way to degrade their own people. We need to represent, not to others, but to our own young men and women – to help them become the best that they can be and to keep the legacy going. This is how you nation build!
If everyone just worked on the little things everyday, we could become a strong and prosperous people. The more each individual works the stronger the collective will become. After all, what’s easier to cut: a rope made up of a hundred pieces of thread or a rope made of hundreds of metal wires? You be the judge.