Ms. Hunter and Mr. Williams express so eloquently in their books my personal views and opinions concerning why African Americans as a race is not as far along as I know we could be. In both books, one might think the authors are Anti-African American even though both are indeed African American. As I have written in previous blogs, the problem that I see with African Americans (and yes I know I am generalizing and that there are individual cases) is that we really do resist hearing the things we need to either stop doing or start doing to improve ourselves as a whole. Not only do we resist hearing it, we don't make the necessary changes needed for improvement. This could never be more evident then what Bill Cosby experienced when he delivered his now famous “Pound Cake Speech.” He was lambasted by both African Americans who have quote unquote made it and by those who were nowhere near making it, all because he had the courage to speak the truth in terms of what African Americans need to do to move forward. Like President Barack Obama, he heard that he wasn’t “Black enough,” or had lost his “blackness” because he expressed his views on why African Americans stay gridlocked in terms of moving forward in society. He dared ask the African American community to look within her own house or in the mirror and as a result was ostracized and nearly outcast from the African American community. Minister Louis Farrakhan has been preaching the same messages for years concerning our (African Americans) being able to do for ourselves to no avail. We still tend to gravitate towards any silly fad that comes along, i.e. sagging pants; being fascinated by the “Bling, (which is usually fake)” having to show that we spent the most money on an item albeit automobile, sneakers, jewelry, etc. ; calling each other derogatory terms and thinking it is cute; not taking the importance of education seriously; and the list goes on and on. When someone points this out to us (African Americans) we then want to get an attitude or try to justify these behaviors in every which way possible. Usually it has something to do with the “white man” or our having been enslaved for over four hundred years. Yes, there may some truth to these justifications, however, we cannot continue to be paralyzed by the fact that we were once slaves or by what the white man does or does not do. Karen Hunter says it well in her book STOP BEING NIGGARDLY, when she says, “I can’t control white people. I can only control me.” It has been my experience that we are quick to not do what we are supposed to do and then turn around and blame the white man for what we feel we ought to have received if we had done what we were supposed to have done. How can you blame the white man for your not having a job because you dropped out of school? How can you blame anyone for your limited options, when you did not take your education seriously?
So just as when I wrote the blog concerning The Pound Cake Speech, I expect folks to be critical of my views and I am okay with that. I agree with Karen Hunter when she says that she knows that drops of water on any hard surface will over time wear through that hard surface and she hopes as do I to be yet another drop of water. She likens the drops to the words of Nannie Helen Burroughs, Marcus Garvey, Marva Collins, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, preachers, and teachers who attempt to inspire and motivate people to have full lives. The message is not new, but it is resisted and denied. It is our hope that enough of us will continue to be drops of water eroding that rock like surface of denial and resistance in order for African Americans to move to higher heights. More of us must get to the point where we realize the truth and take action to move us further forward. Being in denial or getting mad at the messengers will keep us stuck in mediocrity and will continue to move us further and further away from excellence. Like Ms. Hunter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Cosby, and Minister Farrakhan, I will continue to be that drop of water continuously hitting that hard surface of African American denial of our issues. I am not anti-white, however, I am pro-black and because I am pro black I cannot just sit by and watch us as a people continue to move backward while making a bunch of excuses as to why. Making excuses for why we ought to be able to call each other “nigger” and "hos;" why we ought not speak correctly, or parent our children correctly; why we ought to be happy being mis-educated and under educated and the list goes on. I for one will not hold my peace because someone might say that I am not black enough or have lost touch with my blackness. We can and must do better than what we do. Nannie Mae Burroughs wrote in the 30’s Twelve Things the Negro Must Do and the twelve things she outlined still are applicable in 2010 and as we move into 2011. I say again, we can and must do better than what we do. Let us face it and fix it.
Twelve Things the Negro Must Do
by Nannie Helen Burroughs
(1) The Negro Must Learn to Put First Things First
(2) The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk to Do for Him What He Can Do for Himself
(3) The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children and His Home Clean and Make the Surroundings in Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive
(4) The Negro Must Learn to Dress More Appropriately for Work and for Leisure
(5) The Negro Must Make His Religion an Everyday Practice and Not Just a Sunday-Go-to Meeting Emotional Affair
(6) The Negro Must Highly Resolve to Wipe Out Mass Ignorance
(7) The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up to His "Color" and to White People's Attitude
(8) The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits
(9) The Negro Must Improve His Conduct in Public Places
(10) The Negro Must Learn How to Operate Business for People -- Not for Negro People, Only
(11) The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have to Come Down Out of the Air
(12) The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends. Remember!