By Rahim Islam
As we move into any New Year, we tend to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and most importantly, what we plan on doing to make the New Year better.
When it comes to 2017, this Black community must do the same if it’s being honest with itself. We can and must do better for the sake of the future of Black America. The fact that there are too many Black children who waking up every day living in poverty is unacceptable. What’s more troubling is that statistics show that the number of Black children living in poverty is growing, and will handicap the liberation of Blacks in America without a plan to address our issues.
Our individual challenges pale in comparison to the challenges Blacks face as a group and if we don’t address them as such our individual successes will continue to diminish and willl remain limited to just the few we see today. While there are those among us that have managed to achieve financial independence, the majority of the Black community spends most of its time in survival mode, which is one of the inherited legacies of slavery. Because the Black community lacks the necessary wealth, our ability to mount any strategic real long-term plan to address our issues is compromised.
The Black community must work together more closely in 2017 and I have hope and faith that it will.
While the Black community has a number of internal and external issues that it must deal with, I have hope that the community has both the will and the desire to undertake this fight for today and most importantly tomorrow. This hope comes from the knowledge of the history of the struggle of our people. Over the last 500 years, Blacks have overcome the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery itself, Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination, organized hate group terrorism and have survived to remain one of the warmest and sincerest groups of people on the planet. Our ancestors exhibited the highest level of hope in the face of odds greater than we face today.
However, too many members of our community have lost hope for a number of legitimate reasons, mostly because they have seen things either stay the same or worsen for far too long. It’s easy for White America and the media to depict Black people and their current social and economic conditions as a reflection of group value, and it’s equally as easy for Blacks to buy into that narrative. Thus, our work must also include addressing the concept of Black inferiority that has been ingrained in many of us.
We must reinvigorate our culture with hope no matter how bleak things seem to appear by utilizing the plight of our ancestors for courage and strength. We can’t allow our children to lose hope. Instead, we must allow them to make an honest comparison and gauge for themselves whether the proverbial glass is half empty or half full. We have to make them believe that they can and will anything they set their minds to like millions of Black Baby Boomers did in the past. In the 19th and 20th century, optimism was ingrained within our culture and our collective spirit, and we must do the same for future Black children so they too can be inspired by our potential. We must show them that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I’m optimistic that our Black leaders will begin to work closer together in 2017 to restore hope to our community and to our children.
When hope is subdued, faith has been arrested. Have we forgotten the basic tentacles of faith and the belief in a Supreme Being and a higher plan? I can recite several that fit our struggles, such as after hardship comes ease, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. man plans, but God is the best of planners. In the struggle of good versus evil, God versus the Devil, my life and death belong to God. The meek shall inherit the earth. God is on the side of those most downtrodden. “I fear no one but God,” and “if you believe, you will be tested.”The struggle faced by the Black man in America is a test from God, therefore, we must have faith that we’re on the right side of history and that God has a plan for our victory and liberation.
If you stare into the universe, take in the sun, moon and the stars, and witness the multitude of things provided by God, including flowing rivers, awesome seas and oceans, and majestic mountains, you must conclude that this existence we call “life” isn’t some accident. As you study the creation, you must come to appreciate that there is a definite hierarchy within creation with man as its sole benefactor man is at the top of the food chain and God is above man no matter what name you ascribe to Him.
We hear about the ultimate friction between good and evil, and many of us are confused by this dynamic. My belief is that this contrast is part of the Creator’s design. The devil is part of God’s creation and isn’t actually in competition with God. God has no competition. If the devil wanted to disguise himself, religion would be the best place to hide because once you can get someone to believe something, it’s nearly impossible to reverse that belief. The devil spirit is competition with the human spirit and has used the human to elevate himself to become God-like, or a kin to God. One way to demonstrate this is in the dynamic of how White Supremacy has played out in the oppression of Black people in America. Our spirituality and faith must be tied to our liberation without exception. We must view our struggle in a spiritual and divine perspective and this should free us.
In addition to our faith in God, I have faith in the concepts of America and democracy. The same key that locked us up, is the same key that can deliver and free us. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Voting Rights Act, and the Declaration of Independence are all legal documents that support our freedom and provide the Black community the ammunition needed to hold America accountable. Don’t get it twisted, America will never change on its own. The country will need to be forced to repair the damage done to our community. We should never forget that Black people in America are not like any other group in America. We’re not natives, we’re not immigrants, and until recently, we barely achieved status as American citizens. The journey of the Black man in America is on par with the painful struggles of the most aggrieved people within scripture. Because of this, we must connect our struggle to a spiritual one and we must renew our faith.
After hope and faith must come the work. In fact, the measurement of how much hope and faith one has can be seen in the amount of work that one undertakes, something that applies to the group as well. God will never do for us what we must do for ourselves, thus we must take ownership and do the work. Our liberation must be earned and the current level of Black disorganization and disunity could never be the foundation and/or recipe for the collective strategy needed to improve the plight of Black America. If we don’t begin to work closer together, especially our leaders, we don’t have a chance in the world not only to defend ourselves, but also to advance our agenda. If we don’t do better, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
I know everyone won’t agree with me and many will continue to operate in silos, believing that their work is so good and will save the entire Black community. But, it won’t because our issues are too complex and too complicated for any one individual or organization to tackle alone.
However, for those who do agree that Black people must work better together for our success, I have hope and faith that we can come together in 2017 to form the foundation needed for a movement that can be sustained for decades, if centuries.
MAY GOD BLESS THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN AMERICA IN 2017!