Annually, journalist and social commentator Tavis Smiley hosts the “State of Black America’ discussion forum. Smiley and other prominent black leaders come together to discuss issues affecting communities of color. Although these discussions are passionate and well-meaning, they just don’t change very much. Could it be that those really needing to hear these discussions are not listening? Are we doing too much talking and not putting our words into action? Whatever the problem, we need to actively seek solutions and the sooner the better.
Personally, I have witnessed enough to hold my own discussion panels. People of color, black people in particular, are facing some very serious problems and unfortunately, many of them are self-inflicted. Don’t get me wrong, I am PROUD of my African heritage. But there’s no time like the present to be painfully honest about the societal ills crippling these communities. It is the only way for real progress to be made.
Please understand that I am not writing to you from some highly exalted position of personal achievements. The foundation of my success skyscraper is still being laid. Rather, I write to you from the basement because it is only through humility that God can lift me high enough to survey the landscape. Neither is this a self-aggrandizing exercise towards the immortality of S. Denice Newton. I am simply on a mission to awaken the black community and raise awareness of the various vehicles leading to destruction.
The naysayers have told me that I’m wasting my time because if people in high positions of authority are failing to ignite fires of change, then I have little to no chance of doing so. The doomsayers suggest that the mess that has been created in black America is too big for any significant change to be implemented. They would have us to believe that black people are cursed and doomed to failure. They are giving the impression that black people are destined to struggle, fail, and die young. This bears no truth at all but we have to take a honest look at the cancers that are destroying us from the inside out.
It is downright painful to see what has befallen a royal people. I’m moved to tears to see crowns of regality and scepters of nobility reduced to thorns of self-hatred and instruments of violence. It is truly disheartening to witness generational curses of victimization and dependency become perpetual standards of living. We have, in many ways, become our own worst enemy. Tell me, what has happened to those people that endured great trials and tribulations through the dark periods of oppression and injustice?
Where can we find the warrior-spirits that stood firmly on hope and faith during the ills of slavery? Who knows the dwelling place of the trailblazers and pioneers of yesterday that were able to see triumphs of tomorrow through tears of today? I am particularly concerned about today’s black youth. Far too many of them are unable to see beyond the RIGHT NOW because they haven’t been taught that there must be responsibility and accountability for their futures.
Many of us are so blinded by the desire for material gain that we seek them by “any means necessary.” We have become deafened by the thunderous sound of pleasures that lead to immorality and desensitized to those things that the Bible teaches as being wrong. Consider this for a moment: if slave ancestors could stand before us this very moment, would they be satisfied with the overall progress of black people or would our shortcomings be the first thing that they see?
The acknowledgment of truth is the first step to change.