Onward and Upward.
Imagine enslaving a group of people and subjecting them to mental and physical abuse and torture. Maiming and killing them, raping the women and young girls, and also forcing them to work in very harsh conditions for free as you accumulate wealth from their free labor.
As this goes on for decades and generations, these people find a way to persevere and grow exponentially in numbers. Then the unthinkable happens, they are now considered free citizens, and you no longer have control over them and their actions. Their new-found freedom threatens your finances and safety because of your fear of retaliation from your past actions. So what do you do? You have two options, the first is to make amends for all your past injustices and mistreatment of these people, and the second is to double down and continue on the same path.
In case you couldn’t tell, this is the story of race in America, and as you know, option two was chosen. African Americans continue to be oppressed and enslaved by policies and strategies systematically put in place by the government. Police brutality, executions, killings, mass incarceration, the welfare system, voter suppression, to name a few.
As a black man, in these times, it will be justifiable to lose your shit as most of us have and join the protests and riots. However, I think all this is reactionary. The problem with reacting is, it’s driven by emotions, so when the feelings die down, we go back to business as usual until the next black man is senselessly murdered, and the process repeats itself all over again. Please note in no way am I saying we should be silent, what I’m trying to say is we should be consistent, and not wait for the next person to be killed.
We have to understand that these systems and policies that hurt African Americans are strategic; they are long-term plans carefully constructed with a lot of thought and planning behind them. We have been fighting strategically well laid out plans with sticks, stones, and emotions and expecting a victory. This approach will have to change if we hope to bring about any change. We have been playing checkers, and they have been playing chess, it’s time we throw out our checkers board, assemble a team of chess players, and start playing chess. We have to think long term and ignore short term victories that may or may not include holding these murderers accountable for their actions. We have to recognize further that though these individuals should be held responsible, the underlying problem is the system that allows these events to occur.
To determine an approach, we have to figure out their motivation and why these policies and systems are in place. I alluded to it earlier in this post, and my guess is their primary motivation is FEAR. It’s fear of retribution from their past crimes against us, which is why they continue to feel threatened by unarmed civilians. And the horror of becoming a minority race in America.
For those of you familiar with the bible, this story of the African American is precisely the same as what the Israelites went through in Egypt; nothing is new under the sun. They were able to escape the Egyptian captivity by first coming together and devising a plan of escape. They also had to rid themselves of the old/slave ways of thinking and renew their minds and see themselves as the chosen ones, which is simply a metaphor that can be applied to anyone who wants to bring about change.
So how do we move forward? I will not claim to have answers, but I’m a firm believer in focusing on what is within your control, focusing on the small things which will, in time, bring about changes to the big stuff. For example, voting is within your control, and yes, all this makes you believe that your vote does not count but ask yourself this question, if your vote did not count, would they spend so much time trying to exclude you from the voting process?
I know we have chess players out there, and I believe all our chess players can develop positive strategies at the community level to bring about change, and we owe it to ourselves and race to act on these strategies and make better choices.
P.S. Read my response here to unflattering comments and messages about this post.