There is no way for me to have lived almost 75 years and not, from time to time, change my perspective on life’s issues. We are constantly evolving, looking at the same things from different perspectives, based on where our experiences take us at any given time. Doing the same thing over and over will never get anyone beyond his own limited individual frame of reference.
SOMETIMES LIFE takes us off the beaten path and gives us experiences that jolt our thinking in such a way that we begin to question our own value system. Such has been the case with me. My friends and acquaintances are confused about my identity – and so are many of my family members.
They have a right to be confused if they are looking for the same person they talked to last week or last month or last year. I am constantly evolving because I am constantly thinking. The problem might be that we may be on different levels of thinking, and it is expected that there will be differences on positions also.
However, it does not mean that I am right and they are wrong, or the reverse. If we, in general, could except this principle, many of our petty problems will go away.
I am saying all of this to get to the issue at hand: What should the strategy of black people be moving forward? Keep marching? Keep protesting? Keep calling the white man a racist? Keep blaming others for our predicament?
All of these strategies have been tried over and over and none of them have produced much of a benefit for us. We are still behind in just about every economical, social, educational and political category we can think of. Something for sure is not working. We need not be lulled into thinking that because something worked in the past that it will work now and in the future. New times call for new strategies – not against something, as in the past, but for something now in the present.
It is a time to reconcile our differences with the white man, I think. It is incumbent upon the disenfranchised, the hated of our race, to find and make peace with him. It is to our benefit to do so and redirect what few resources we have to creating employment for the millions of us who are out of work. Right now, who else in the private sector makes it possible for us to have jobs? The white man.
BY THE WAY, openly announcing to buy black is a ridiculous strategy. We cannot advocate what we fight against. This is about as racist as it gets. Yet we say it without a thought – and expect the white man to give us a pass. What if he starts telling his people to buy white, and does it openly? We would call him racist. We can’t have it both ways. If the tactics he uses against us are wrong, then we are wrong using the same tactics against him.
I guess by now whites are cheering me on and blacks are calling me familiar phrases. You know them. My intent is not to give whites things to cheer about on this sensitive subject, nor to make black people angry. What I am trying to do is tell the truth, as I see it. Many others are afraid of being labeled sellouts.
My people have been jerked around by just about everybody, including our own selves. The only thing that is going to set us free from this abuse is the truth. Raising an uproar and drawing the nation’s attention to every time a white man kills or shoots a black – but disregarding our killing and shooting of one another on a daily basis – is hypocritical to say the least. And we shouldn’t get a pass on it.
Those of us in the black community who call ourselves leaders ought to lead with integrity and stop using race as a support mechanism. Black leaders can start off by telling us that we are our own worst enemy in many cases. Any black leader who is out there not blaming the white man won’t be popular in the black community, for sure. But he is contributing to uplifting his race more than those who are leading them nowhere. They, our so-called leaders, in reality, are followers. If black people love them, you can bet your bottom dollar that these leaders are ineffective in making positive life changes for their people.
A GREAT LEADER takes people into unfamiliar territory – many times against their will. We have been circling this mountain too long. It’s time to move forward with a new vision and a new strategy – maybe the kind that the prophet Nehemiah used while rebuilding the destroyed walls in Jerusalem. He fought with one hand and held a trowel in the other. He was building and fighting off the enemy at the same time. The enemy, which in many cases was his own people, mocked him as he labored to do his calling.
We spend too much time fighting and not enough time building.
(The writer is a former Augusta City Council member and a retired labor relations manager from Bechtel Savannah River Inc.)