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Reflections of Black History Month 2016 suggest the future is bright

By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader

You would think the ridiculousness would be overwhelming by now.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was asked three times to denounce the Ku Klux Klan and one of its most celebrated leaders – David Duke. Duke – writing that Trump promises to break up “Jewish dominated lobbies…” and wants to ensure “that White Americans are allowed to promote their heritage and interests…”

Initially, he feigned being unaware of Duke’s endorsement and played crazy when asked about endorsements from hate groups. Although the interview specifically mentioned the KKK, Trump said he would need to look deeper into what organizations were all about before refusing to accept their support. He needed to investigate what—the workings of the most notorious hate group in U.S. history?

It would be a joke, except there’s nothing funny. And the lie days later that a faulty earphone prevented his understanding of the reporter’s question when his illusive response spoke directly to the issue – albeit with nothing but avoidance. And even when forced to disavow the endorsement of Duke, Trump refused to rebuke the KKK and all other white supremacist groups. His tepid separation was minimal.

In the same rancid breath of a party steeped in antipathy for non-whites, women, the poor and immigrants, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over the past week suggested that he would block a bipartisan effort by Congress to set aside money to deal with the water poisoning tragedy in Flint, Michigan.

Senate Democrats were outraged after learning when Cruz first announced that he would put a hold on hundreds of millions of dollars to restore safe drinking water to families in Flint. The primary objection of Cruz and a handful of other insensitive Republicans was that the people of Flint should have to pay for any remedy to a crisis they did not create.Cruz acquiesced and withdrew his objection. But for those sizing up the prospect of his presidency, the damage had been done.

Trump, Cruz, Rubio and the Oscars’ racism, and more police fatally shooting Black teenagers and the day-to-day mistreatment might make someone on the outside looking in wonder how African Americans stay strong. Ironically, there is evidence that the more taxing the struggle becomes – the more Blacks are galvanizing to fight back.

I first thought it was just my imagination – but somehow BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2016 seemed to be filled with more focus, more energy, and more substance; a clearer presence of intellectual reclamation rooted in principles of self-definition, self-esteem and self-determination to tell our own stories in our voices from our perspective.

I initially thought it was an illusion. But it was real. Perhaps the best word to encapsulate that dynamic was that this past month was “soulful.”

It wasn’t about the usual ceremony or hollow tributes or rehashing the past. It seemed to be much more about recognizing where we are today and re-dedicating ourselves to the cause and to the future; it was more about feeding the vitality sparked by the dramatic reawakening that was the year 2015.

Tragedy unforeseen in recent years in the Black community last year birthed a new level of consciousness – convincing even the reluctant, the fearful, the apathetic and those in relentless denial for years to confess that the struggle is real. The systemic dehumanization of Black Americans and disrespect for our leadership served to fortify rather than destroy the momentum of champions for change.

Rather than force African Americans into a state of hopelessness and submission – resigned to our fate – the constant onslaught of indignities in 2015 instead inspired a sense of resolve.

The result is that oppressors, bigots, hatemongers and all enemies of justice and freedom will soon learn that, though the month has ended – that incredible spirit is going to continue and grow and spread and become stronger and provide an inheritance for our young that will equip them to take it to a new level!

And we know that’s just the opposite of what the oppressor had in mind – reminiscent of Genesis 50:20, which tells us how the enemy meant what they were doing for evil…but God meant it for good.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City.

Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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