What do you do when someone asks you what it means to be black in America? The next time someone asks you this question I want you to say, “I don’t know.” Now, I’m sure they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy and with a puzzled look on their face and ask why. And I want you to tell them, “Because I’m American in black.”
Yesterday CNN asked me (and I’m sure countless other bloggers) to highlight the replay of their upcoming special,” Black in America – Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination” in commemoration of the 41st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The special will re-air on April 4th and 5th at 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm ET and PT.
While you watch this program I want you to think about those days and what it meant to be black in America. Then I want you to focus on the now. I want you to think about the progress we've made and all the possiblities afforded us. I want you to think about what it means to be American in black.
What Does It Mean To Be American In Black?
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it living in a derogatory, demeaning world having to always prove myself? If so, then I’m glad, because I live in a land that provided me the ability and will to do so.
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it being born to a single Mom who struggled (with her demons, her man, and da’ man), just to raise me? If so, then I’m glad, because of her dignity and strength I made it, often despite it, and now I am the apple of my mother’s eye. Now she can say wow look at me!
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it growing up in a poor, crime-laden, poverty stricken community? If so, then I’m glad, because the food (the little there was) was cooked with loving hands; the house (though public) keep me warm and safe enough yet insecure enough to yearn for a place of my own--that I bought; the education (inadequate though it might have been) gave me the knowledge to know that I must first seek to know myself and my God; the health care (i.e. AllKids, Kidcare, Peachcare or some other) kept my body and mind strong; the community (da’ hood) while I didn’t have all things I had everything: love, support, God, Country, AND desire; the church (the scandal and the parishioners)—inadequate though they all might be, gave me the indomitable spirit to rise above the fray.
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it not having a job? If so, then I’m glad, because when I have a job, I KNOW I earned it and therefore I appreciate it, and when I don’t, I have a hustle or a hand (state or church) until I find it. I can survive.
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it being imprisoned? If so, then I’m glad. Whether I did the crime or not, whether I do all the time or not; I will come out stronger (mentally, spiritually, and physically) because in this nation there is opportunity for growth, even in here…and I will.
What does it mean to be American in black? Is it being a father separated from my kids? If so, then I’m glad, because despite being broke, tired, imprisoned, homeless, ill, or scared; I’m not estranged or useless. I’m not only just a Dad; I’m a Father. As long as I live in the greatest country there is I have something to give and I will.
What does it mean to be American in black? To witness the death of dreams deferred? Or is the realization that light, even hidden under a bushel, is still light. Is so, then I’m glad, because this year, in this country, I observed the death of our dear friend Martin one day and witnessed his dream, the election of Barack Hussein Obama President of the United States, the next.
What does it mean to be American in black?
It means the same thing it means to every other American—to be born, to live, to struggle, to overcome, to grow, to give, to serve, to get older, and to die. All in freedom. And for this I’m glad, because it has not always been this way.