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Hold Our Own Nuts

There comes a time when we need to reevaluate some of the beliefs that we tend to hold so dear to us. We have grown up in this country believing that we should strive for the “American Dream” by any means necessary. We go to school and endeavor to be the best we can, in that regard, so that maybe we can get a good job one day. Perhaps to live a life that is afforded to anyone who works hard and follows the rules that the dominant society has set for its citizens.

This is the type of mentality I grew up having and believing because, well… that’s what I was taught.

Growing up as a so-called African American in Utah, I never thought in a million years that I could not achieve any of the things that we were taught we could have. As a matter of fact, I can truly say, that by any measure in this economic regard, I haven’t done too bad, to say the least. I have a fairly successful career, an education, two healthy kids and live in relative financial and social security. The truth of the matter is that I BELIEVED in the formula for the American Dream and thought, without a doubt, that ANYONE, black, white or whatever you are racially, could have some semblance of success following the recipes laid out by the powers that be, who just happened to be white people that I knew and interacted with.

However, as I move into the middle aspect of my life, I look back upon things and have begun to reexamine how I got to where I am, the landscape within which I live, and how truly the formula I adhered to most of my life, was actually not for me at all.

See, I believe that my success is an anomaly in the African American existence in this country. I happened to be brought up rather insulated from the injustices my black brothers and sisters had to endure outside of the lily-white confines of the Wasatch Front. I assimilated to the utmost and drank the Kool-Aid of the dominant society to such a degree that, I didn’t know of, or if I did know, couldn’t very well understand the complexity of the plight of our people. My parents spoke to me at length about the civil rights movement they were a part of, and how important it was for me to never forget the sacrifices of my ancestors. But that proverbial Kool-Aid of the dominant society was so strong and sweet, I could not see that it was rotting my brain and psyche, as too much sugar will do to the enamel on teeth if not brushed away. To me, all white people were given the benefit of the doubt for being somewhat “nice,” whereas I rarely even thought about the social issues of black people at the hands of the same whites I adored, outside of the fact that, I knew to call me a nigger was bad, and that I should not allow white people to do so. That was the extent of my social fight… Don’t call me a nigger!

Joining the military and getting away from Utah, in my opinion, was like going to college. Once away, I began to slowly but surely see what had been happening to my brothers and sisters. And even though I may have had a remedial understanding of oppression, living abroad and then coming back to the states, gave me the insight I needed to really digest how people in other countries see us African Americans.

And it was not always good. Believe me.

Long story short… we are the most reviled and, most ironically, the most imitated people on the planet. I won’t elaborate too much on this particular vein of discussion, however, I will say that we as African Americans are by ourselves in this fight we are in today.

The formulas that I was so sure were cross-racial in their effectiveness in achieving “the dream,” has, in my mind anyway, proven to have pitfalls and rules that don’t benefit the African American people. It seems to me that immigrants and foreign citizens have more of an advantage in this country in achieving success, in all areas, than we who have been here since this country’s inception. The former slaves of this country continue to traverse the minefields of oppression, even given the advancements of the civil rights legislation of the past 40 or so years. We watch as the law enforcement apparatus of this country wreaks havoc on our communities as a whole, without real legislation or a desire to enact any, to change that dynamic. I’ve watched over the past few months as droves of people fervently endeavor to fight for the rights of immigrants who are NOT even citizens yet sit on their hands when dozens of innocent and unarmed African Americans are murdered, under truly suspicious circumstances. I watched as droves of lawyers poured into certain airports across this nation to fight for the rights of Islamic men and women to enter this country after Trump’s travel ban was enacted, yet barely a muscle twitch to jump to the defense of our slain brothers and sisters killed without due process.

And where were our so-called brothers and sisters of color, namely Hispanics, Asians or Native Americans?

Where were the droves of these people when we were protesting the inordinate killing of our own innocent people of color? I watch as WE as black people turn out to defend the rights of ILLEGAL immigrants, even scaling the Statue of Liberty to bring awareness to a cause that isn’t even ours! Where are they when we need them?

I was taught to believe that the world was at my feet if I followed the rules and did what I was supposed to do. I believed in the melting pot of America, in that, even when the dominant white society did us wrong, they were doing ALL people of color wrong. I felt as if we were in this together.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

There are pockets of those outside of the African American community that are somewhat empathetic to our cause. Pockets that are very insignificant and cannot be counted on to enact real change. There are a select few in power that, because of overly compelling and unavoidable legislation, act in a lawful and just way. Not because they really care, but because the rule of law, to some, stabilizes power. We have to remember that most laws were created to PROTECT white society. And even if, on occasion, they benefit the African American, it is a small price to pay for the dominant society knowing that, for the most part, these statutes will inevitably play to the favor of said dominant society. Our victories in the justice system should be seen as placebos to our pain, not as actual remedies to the disease of white supremacy.

With that being said, we as a people cannot count on formulas or other minority groups, or the dominant society of this country, for that matter, to engage and enforce real change for our people. We have to begin to create our own methods for success and power that lean toward self-sufficiency and real economic independence.

I am not a supporter of this “people of color” ideal because, other peoples of color do not engage with us in a familial way. We all should begin to understand that we are in this alone. I see other minority groups circle the wagons when it comes to their own people. We AFRICAN AMERICANS always find ourselves attempting to protect THEIR wagons when attacked by the dominant society, sometimes being the most vociferous, without much reciprocation, leaving our backs vulnerable to the white supremacist onslaught you are seeing today.

In the second decade of the 20th century, a reevaluation process is more needed than any time over the past thirty to forty years. We have been lulled to sleep with false brotherhoods and communities, peppered with kumbaya ideologies that have left us lethargic and lazy. The formulas of yesterday do not, and have not, brought us out of slavery or oppression in any real fashion. The successes of a few of us must be looked at as incongruities and not as something that was meant for the African American to flourish in as a people. It is said that other minority communities find ways to flourish in the face of black communities in this country… And they, other minority communities, drink that Kool-Aid also.

We are by ourselves in this fight…

We have to hold our own nuts and quit protecting others’…

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