Living in a state of “ontological blackness”, I had readied my mind to the notion that settling was the better than not doing at all. I found that many that grew in the 80’s as I did had fallen victim to the same plight. We had bought into the “hype of racism” and used it as a crutch to be mediocre. I call it a hype because it was a metaphorical giant that handcuffed young black males- racism. We bought the game that was shoveled to us, in the words of the Notorious B.I.G., “that either you gotta wicked shot or you gotta sale crack rock.” Gone were days that our intellectual prowess could be used to rally a community to be an agent of change. That our presence as young black men would impact millions with the sounds of truth, roaring from our lungs.
I watch as we are so violently harassed for meager inflictions, if any at all. But in retrospect, I watch as we dehumanize, buffonarize and sale our hearts for the limelight. We are a misguided group these days with little to no direction. Statistically only about 25% percent or less of black males go to college. Intelligence has been replaced with who has the biggest horse on the Polo shirt. School has become more of a habitat of cool than a necessary tool to catapult one to success.
James Baldwin writes to his nephew in The Fire Next Time, about the plight that he will face in America. He writes posited in the early 60’s with a flame of love; not sure if out of fear or a unique quest to see him successful (I would say the first) nonetheless it is laced with love. Elegantly, he lays out lionized thoughts that enflame the page with insight. He writes with a love ethic that still after 40 odd years has an enormous impact. James Baldwin has walked the path that his nephew has yet to travel and he is laying out the strategy for success.
Much the same but without coming anywhere near the genius of Baldwin I write to my young brothers. I leave with the words of Baldwin,
“You can only be destroyed by believing that you are what the white world calls a nigger. I tell you this because I love you, and please don’t ever forget it.”