There is a saying that goes “There is nothing new under the Sun.” To a certain extent this is true. Along with this, there is a tendency for a kind of cultural myopia in that everyone feels that the era that they experienced is the most important one. Because of this, it is common for people nowadays to say that there are no more Black leaders. This notion is shortsighted; we must remember that nature abhors the proverbial vacuum. There will always be those who are willing to step in and pick up the mantle of leadership. We need never worry.
With this said, we are moving into the 5th century of the Black American experience on these shores. And the experience has not been a good one, though, like anything else, there are positives and negatives. The negative experiences have left an indelible mark on the body politic of Black America, which manifests in many ways. We have internalized another group’s sense of what is beautiful, and we have played into the oppression that we have experienced to such an extent that we are determined to continue it in the form of self-hatred and self-abuse. Black-on-Black crime is just one of these manifestations. But in the midst of these, along comes the Black Lives Matter Movement. Along comes Jesse Williams. Along comes a whole group of young Blacks who have refused to drink the Kool-Aid of acquiescence and capitulation to the dominant culture’s love of white supremacy. They are like a breath of fresh air! During the recent 2016 BET Awards show, Jesse Williams, also known for a recurring role as a physician on Grey’s Anatomy¸ gave an especially stirring speech about the plight of Black people in America. He was articulate and creative, while demonstrating an urgency that was palpable. He was earnest in his delivery and anyone could see that he was determined to make his message heard. He basically stole the show – the next day social media was alive with his liberating message. And we can’t ignore the diva herself, Beyoncé, who along with Kendrick Lamar, delivered a very interesting and compelling performance labeled Freedom. Once upon a time people tended to dismiss the importance of this talented and hardworking star, but Beyoncé seems to be coming into her own – she seems to have turned a corner in consciousness. It is a tightrope, however, because an artist is faced with courting commercial success while, at the same time, saying something profound and meaningful. She pulled it off, however, and it will be interesting to watch her unfoldment in this regard.
As Independence Day 2016 approaches, it is interesting to see how the Black community is changing. We are witnessing the best of times AND the worst of times. Black on Black murder is at a crisis level, but so is the white establishment’s abuse of Black people. Police officers are seemingly being given a ticket to kill whomever they want to in the Black community, and it makes no difference whether or not the person is male, female, young or old. This is sending a message to members of the community that Black lives DO NOT matter, at least to a certain segment of the population. Because of the strange and interesting situation that currently exists, it is time that the Black community becomes extremely serious about the future. Currently, too many Blacks are caught up in crass materialism, not unlike a lot of others in America. It is as though the collective memory has atrophied. This is true when looking at how too many youth are dropping out of school and wearing their pants below the back cheek line. But that is a digression; as pointed out earlier, the winds of change are becoming more and more evident. We are at the crucial point wherein the decisions we make will determine the direction of our collective future. The Donald Trump candidacy has shown that there are a significant number of people who harbor backward, bigoted ideas. This is a frightening thought; and because of this, we need to pull out all stops in order to offset enemies that have adherents in high places. Donald Trump says that he wants to make America “great again.” This might just mean that he means make America “white” again. Independence Day takes on a new meaning in this climate where many seem to be walking about in a daze. It will require the input and cooperation of a significant segment of the Black community working together to thwart enemies of the community. If this is not accomplished, the odds will be that our survival will be at stake. A luta continua.