Leonard Pitts, a black columnist with the Miami Herald has his column in today’s JS. In my opinion, Mr. Pitts doesn’t fall into the category of other columnists such Thomas Sowell and William Raspberry but his article today makes sense. He is talking about a newly proposed million man march to Washington and laments the results of the first march ten years ago. He says “ten years later, 65 percent of our children are still born out of wedlock, five times more of us are likely to die of homicide, fewer than half of us own our homes, we still marry less, go to jail more and die sooner. Ten years later, the promises we made that crisp Monday in November, lie fallow and unredeemed. We stood in a crowd of generation be-bop, generation doo-wop and generation hip-hop, gathered to slap backs and shake hands, to hug and laugh and be shoulder to shoulder and man to man, serenaded by the heartbeats of African drums. Speakers spoke but they were not the show. The show was us, standing there on what we thought was the pivot of change.
Yet here we are 10 years later (and planning another march led by the wrong leaders), still damned by the numbers. Because change is not something you talk into existence. Change takes action.
Credit where it is due: some of us did go back to our communities and work to change them. But too many of us, just went back.
And yes, I know about cops and court, about the loan officer at the bank and the hiring man downtown and I know about the lies too many white people tell themselves, including the one that goes “liberty and justice for all.” I know about the truths some people won’t, can’t face because it cuts too close to their most cherished conceits and necessary self deceptions.
But I also know that much of what is needed to fix our communities requires no white person’s consent:
Seek a career, Not a job. (Merle’s comment here is get a job and prepare yourself for a career)
Don’t make children you can’t support. (Merle’s comment here is that it usually takes two consenters to cause a pregnancy)
Understand that support means money.
Understand that support means more than money.
Marry the woman. (Merle’s comment, don’t impregnate someone you don’t want to live with for a very long time)
Model manhood for your children.
Save some money.
Buy a home. (Merle’s comment: rent first and save your money and make sure you can afford to MAINTAIN the house you buy.)
Build a life. (Merle’s comments: I am of an age older than 95% of those reading this and I’m still building.)
Easier said than done? Yes, very much. A guarantee you will live happily ever after? No such guarantee exists nor ever will.
Yet I persist in believing that for African America ( Merle does not agree with him here, I would say black Americans in America), changing the world lies in the embrace of these and other old-school dictums. And that revolution can be as simple as a family, checking homework and going to church on Sunday.
I thought we all understood that as we gathered under that autumnal sun. I thought this is what we meant when we laughed and hugged and made promises for the future. But 10 years later, the future is still here and it is hard to glimpse even the bare outlines of change.
There used to be a song that said, “Brother’s gonna work it out.” Ten years later; another autumnal sun. And we are waiting on brother, still.”
End of my somewhat condensed version of Mr. Pitt’s column.
Common sense black leadership appears to be asking why many blacks are caught in a “time warp” while other blacks are springing into action and taking charge of their own destiny.
As someone who first met a black person in high school and then worked with them, hired them, visited their homes, socialized with them, tutored them, played with them; basketball, softball and tennis, I believe I am somewhat qualified to give some white person insight to black leadership in all walks of life; public, private and social leadership as well as some writers and some like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who would probably never agree with me under any circumstance.
When you realize someone is talking to you in a “political correct” form, tell them you value their friendship, advice or whatever but tell them to GET REAL!
Say I am an American and you are an American; you are a Swiss American and I am an African American but we are BOTH Americans. Let’s knock off the formalities and just talk as Americans and call each other friends and forget the race designations. If you get your doctoral degree, am I to, say, introduce you as Dr. so and so who is an African-American with a degree in whatever. Get real again! I would really think it was stupid if someone would call me a Swiss-German American, which I am and will mention it if I really thought someone was interested. They are not!! (If you are a citizen of another country, say some country in Africa, no problem, say so if you wish.)
Try not to be so sensitive unless you REALLY believe someone is insulting you in a derogatory manner or is truly trying to make you feel inferior. If you are sure, then advise them of your feelings in a polite manner. I was called many names I didn’t like when I was growing up, yet I never complained to my folks, teachers or the news media.
Realize that the better you are prepared to impress the “hiring man downtown” the greater become your chances of being hired.
Don’t believe because you are black or poor that people don’t like you. A few will never like some of you just like some people will never like me. So WHAT?
We are all victims at some time or another. Why do you think you have “dibs” on being a victim? Get busy and get a life! All of us with some common sense are getting tired of that old “victimization” stuff.
Who do you think takes entry level jobs? Just black people? What kind of “fine position” white collar job do you think most dropouts of any color are qualified for? Many of us have taken entry level jobs, learned more, and moved up or found a satisfactory job or found a niche where we were financially independent. Try working on a farm where I worked for 18 years. (Well, I was about six years old before I was assigned to my first entry level job like pulling weeds and cleaning up after the chickens.)
Where in our Constitution does it say the “hiring man downtown” owes you a job just because you are black? If you are truly qualified and believe you have been by passed because of race, our laws permit recourse. Qualified people are getting harder to find so go to school, listen up and learn a trade and then become indispensable. If you are turned down by someone, someone else will hire you. If you don’t keep trying, there are always immigrants coming to this country who will take those jobs and move up to management while some of you will be dropouts, poor unmarried and pregnant, become gang bangers or hip-hoppers, (yes some make big money but too many become addicted to something or another and often die young) or become dependent on welfare and wind up going nowhere.
Lastly, try to sort out the racists of your own race and denounce them as such. Pay attention to what Bill Cosby said; he dropped the mask of “political correctness” and drew the ire of the racists and “bleeding” liberals. There are many millions of successful black people in America, from Mr. Cosby, Ward Connerly and all the way up to Ms. Rice. Find them, read them and listen to them and model yourself accordingly.
Demand that you have competent teachers, principals, school board members and administrators. If you are born in dire straits; there are usually people who are interested in you (churches, schools, social services, other relatives and safety nets that will try to help you. Avoid becoming a member of a gang; they only want to drag you down as they build themselves into the phonies they are. You will soon learn how to help yourself to a better way of life than the one you were born into. There are so many people in the United States and the world that are born in “dire straits” making it imperative that you do not wind up being “un-coachable” because try as we might, society can not save everyone in the world, not even in our own country or community.
Understand that being an athlete or a pretty good one does not guarantee you a job in later life. Even a college degree is just a “hunting license” and does not GUARANTEE any person of any color, a job.
At a very early age get involved in a POSITIVE way in your community and pick your close friends and leaders very, very carefully.
Remember your ancestry and honor it and them if you wish. But always remember, all citizens of any color of this country are AMERICANS and entitled to liberty (if you obey the law) and the pursuit of a reasonable amount of happiness!! (We often treat non-citizens as good or better than we do some of our own citizens of any color)!