Dear Black America

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You are not special

Dear Black America,
What in the hell are you thinking? What in God’s name has possessed you these last few tumultuous years? What could have possibly taken over your mind and replaced it with the rampant ignorance I see today? What is it about your blackness that gives you a free pass to be so incompetently ignorant?

Black America, before you even ask the question, yes, I am a black man. Yes, I have hazel eyes that tend to change color depending on my mood. That would indicate that I am mixed. But to the entirety of the world, the first thing you or anyone will see is my colored skin, and you will know that I am a black man.

I didn’t know my biological parents until the later years of my life-black statistic #1. My biological mother birthed me out of wedlock (black statistic #2) and my biological father, whether by chance or choice, was not around-black statistic #3. I didn’t even have a name. I was born, I was alive, but without a name, I had no identity. But my real parents, the ones who adopted me, they gave me a name. They raised me. They taught me right from wrong. They tried to teach me to have faith in God, though that lesson is still trying. My father is college educated and quite gainfully employed as an engineer. My mother both worked and went to school when I was a child, I remember those days well. I remember my father driving through the Taco Bell drive thru and seeing my mother at the window. I remember my mother dropping me off with my father at work the last couple hours while she went to work or school. My point is, we had difficulties, we had troubles, many which I didn’t understand until later in life, most of which I probably still don’t know about, but my parents did everything within their power to keep themselves, me, and my sisters from being black statistics.

I was born a black statistic, and statistically, by all accounts, I should be one now. In some respects, I am. 75% of black youth are born into single parent homes. While my situation makes it difficult to be the father my son deserves, I am not absent, he knows damn well who I am, and I am damn well busting my ass to be a better father. His mother does a good job of taking care of him, so it’s not about her. I told myself long ago that I would not be one of those statistics and neither would my children. Because of the way I was raised, and maybe a little in spite of it, I managed to avoid becoming one of these statistics, though I have failed in other respects. Point being: I knew, early on, the negative statistics Black America seems to lead the country in, and I was damn well determined not to become a part of them.

I remember my mother teaching me the stories of the Civil Rights Movement, the marches, the speeches, the key players, etc. I remember learning black history-the kings and queens, the empires, the advancements, the achievements, the glory, the honor. I remember learning what my own country did to Black America, and because of what I was being told both by my family and the black community, I tried to hate white America. I tried, and it lasted for maybe a week, because all too soon I realized how ignorant that was. I remember imagining the giants of black history in my mind as a child. I learned a phrase in recent years from a woman I greatly admire, “We stand on the shoulders of giants. To whom much is given, much is required.” As I thought of these giants as a child-the heroes, the waymakers, the innovators-I understood at an early age that to become “another black statistic” would be an affront and a dishonor to those who came before. To fail myself, my family, my community, and Black America by becoming another black statistic would spit in the face of every achievement of every black man and woman that paved the way for me. To become another black statistic is to strike down the Brown v Board of Education. It is to diminish the greatness of men and women like Brother Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Lena Horne, and every other shining star of black history. I remember learning my history, along with my American history, and understanding just what it meant to be a proud black American man. I understood that the past mistakes and successes of both blacks and America had to be reconciled. I understood that what was done was done and could not be changed. But I also understood that while nothing can be done about yesterday, everything can be done about tomorrow.

Black America, I have to be honest, I do not understand you. You lost me when you advocated killing cops. You lost me when you demanded the release-from jail-of men you know to be guilty. You lost me when you demanded whites be charged with hate crimes in situations where race is non-existent. You lost me when you demanded white people hand over the money they have earned in their lifetimes to you, because your ancestors may or may not have been slaves in America. You lost me when you absolved yourselves of all personal responsibility for your own lives, and placed blame squarely at the feet of white men and women who have nothing to do with your life.

Even at his most militant, Brother Malcolm never advocated the senseless and unprovoked killing of anyone, let alone police. What did the riots after Dr. King’s death solve? What did the riots of Detroit and Los Angeles solve? What have the Baltimore riots solved? Black America, you attempt to quote these giants of black history, yet you twist and manipulate their words, without actually understanding them in the first place. The Civil Rights Movement was not about demanding reparations. It was not about creating segregated safe spaces-the entirety of America was ALREADY segregated. No, the movement was about ENDING that segregation, which you ignorant and foolish twits are demanding be restored. It was not about demanding no one be offensive. It was about showing the world that no matter how offensive anyone can be, black men and women will always stand with head held high. It was not about demanding things BE equal, since you cannot force equality. It was about both black and white having the same chance to become equal. It was not about being given anything in life based on your blackness. It was about having the same chance as anyone to find your success. It was not about punishing men and women now for events that happened before any of them were born. It was about understanding that in order to be, truly, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” that both black and white needed to learn to reconcile their pasts in order to create a better future. Dr. King, himself, said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Black America, you constantly say that by now we shouldn’t be dealing with some of the issues we deal with. Yet, with all the ignorance perpetuated from asinine fools like Jackson, Sharpton, The Nation of Islam (not to be confused with legitimate Islam), Black Lives Matter, and my personal abhorrence-The New Black Panthers, Black America has reversed the very meaning of Dr. King’s words, “NOT by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

In Black America, the ONLY thing that matters is the color of one’s skin. Character has no relevance in Black America. That is why we idolize these fools in entertainment who pimp and whore themselves out, glorifying lust, greed, and rampant hedonism, while we completely ignore those black men and women who make great achievements in science, industry, military, education, etc. That is why we idolize sports stars who damn near kill themselves by overdosing in a whorehouse and not the multiple young black students who have been accepted to all 8 Ivy League schools simultaneously. That is why our joke of a president and laughable “first lady” have hosted all manner of black entertainer, yet have not once entertained a single black man or woman of significance in any of the medical, scientific, or educational fields on such a scale.

In Black America, skin color is the only weight to judge by. In Black America, one should receive simply because he or she is black, not because he or she is deserving. One is innocent simply because he or she is black, not whether or not they committed the crime. Even if they did commit the crime, if they are black, they are still innocent. In Black America, you do not commit a crime because you chose to do so, knowing the consequences. It is because you are black and are therefore oppressed by white people. In such regard, you are not guilty of committing the crime, white people are guilty of making you commit the crime. In Black America, it is not your fault you are uneducated. It is not your fault you did not attend class, study, or complete the work. It is the fault of white people for not catering specifically to you. In Black America, it is not the failure of the parents to teach their children respect and right from wrong. It is the fault of the white man. Even though 75% of a child’s learning comes from the home environment, the sorry plight of many of our black youth is not because ¾ of our youth are born into single parent homes. It is not because our fathers are not being fathers and teaching their sons to be proud black men, to work hard, to get educated, to respect our women. It is not because our black women are not teaching our daughters to respect themselves, to get educated, to be proud black women instead of demeaning and degrading themselves with all the twerking and WorldStar and idolization of these entertainers that want nothing more than to exploit you and make you spend your money. It’s not because our men are not respecting our women and our women are not respecting our men. It’s not because we have lost all semblance of respect for anyone in authority. No, none of these are the problem in Black America. The problem in Black America is that somewhere, somehow, some white people are preventing them from living their lives. Somewhere, somehow, some white people are forcing them to make these choices. In Black America, the only measurement is not dedication or hard work, it is the color of your skin. In Black America everything our predecessors fought for has been undone and reversed.

They fought to end segregation, now we demand it. They fought to be able to love, marry, and procreate with whoever we wish, now we deride anyone who chooses outside their skin color. They fought to open the doors of every professional field, now we willingly avoid them. They fought to have their neighbors see them simply as men and women, now we demand they see our blackness first and foremost. They fought for the opportunity to prove their value, now we demand to be valued-not because we fulfill the requirements-but because we are black. Black America has no identity of itself, no understanding of itself, no true vision. Black America does not have the clear cut goals of the Civil Rights Movement, so now we have to create injustice where there is none, racism where there is none, and excuses where there are none, just so we can vainly attempt to repeat the CRM. In Black America, when you have failed to maintain your house and it begins to fall down, you blame your white neighbor and demand he give you his house.

I stand firm in my belief that we cannot force or legislate anyone to like us or accept us. I don’t give a damn if a single white person on this earth accepts me or likes me or values me. Why? Because I know who I am, I know what I have been through, I know what I am worth, and I will not devalue myself for the sake of anyone, and I will only trade my value-my mind, my work, my ideas, the labor of my body-for equal value, whether that value be black, white, or neon green. I also stand firm on my belief that before we can demand anyone change their opinion or perception, we first need to change our own. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, our children, our neighborhoods. White people aren’t coming into our neighborhoods and trashing them. We are. White people aren’t coming into our schools and making our students fail. We are. White people aren’t destroying opportunities for our children, we are, by failing to teach them correctly. While I disagreed with much of my family’s view of white and black, I can honestly say that at no time did my family ever teach me that I was not responsible for myself or that my failures, faults, and flaws could be blamed on white people. In fact, my entire life, emphasis has always been on personal responsibility. Why, as an armed black man who has had many interactions with police, have I never been shot? Because I learned to respect authority. I also learned to know my rights, but that undoubtedly needs to be paired with respect for authority. I have been knowledgeable, I may have been a bit arrogant, but I have never been confrontational, disrespectful, aggressive, or threatening. I understood when I was wrong, and I held my ground, respectfully, when I was right. Black America does not respect itself, therefore it cannot show respect and it cannot teach respect. We must find a way to counteract the damage we have done to ourselves.

Black America, I am a strong and proud black American. I am not a Black American. I am not an African American-I was born right here in the USA. I am an American who is black. “My people,” my “kind” are all those born under the red, white, and blue of the United States of America. I am well aware that my country has its demons, as does every country. I am well aware that my country is imperfect, as is every country. Then again, Black America has its own demons and imperfections. I embrace my country, Black America, because we are not what we used to be. I remember my past, Black America, so that I do not repeat those mistakes. I do not hold that past over anyone’s head and demand special treatment. I am a man, an American man, an American black man. My life is my own, no one else’s. My life is my responsibility, as are my successes and my failures. Black America, stand up and take charge of yourself. Demand more, demand better of yourself, before demanding anything of anyone else. Yes, you are broken, Black America. But only you can fix yourself. Pull together and clean up your streets, teach your children, love and respect your men and women, find your self-value, become the kings and queens you were born to be.

Or, you can continue to call yourself a king while you play the jester, and you can continue to call yourself a queen while playing a whore. The thing is, if you want to be a king, you have to be kingly. If you want to be a queen, you have to be queenly. You have to earn the title, you don’t just claim it because you think you deserve it. Treat your women like queens and treat your men like kings and your children will see it. Your children will learn what it is to stand tall and proud, to make their own way by the merit of their mind and virtue of their labor. Black America, you cannot build a house from the top down, it must be built from the ground up. You want to solve the problems, then first solve yourself.

Ryan Douglas
04Jan2016

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