Will all the strides made by blacks in the 20th Century be lost in this new millennium? It would seem so.
With blacks focusing on rooting out the white man's so-called
hatred of us, and few on immediate problems like our kids and
our communities, we are going into this new century with all the
vigor of a rubber band when we need a cannonball. We can find
looking very far or very hard. As a matter of fact, all you need do is ask for it. Watch the evening news and you'll see it there. Search the Internet and you'll find it there. You're bound to find it. Just like if I keep my head down and focus on the sidewalk to search for pennies, I'll find a few. But, at the same time, I miss the dollar bill blowing down the middle of the street.
Our focus must instead be broad and ever-reaching. It must be kept intact and on-track so our kids will learn to follow with intensity and focus.
We must not limit the focus and plans of our kids. We must not teach them there will be someone to impede their progress. We must not tell them there are limits to where they can go and what they can do. We must not impress our hatred of others into their lives. The decisions they make now will shape and direct their lives in the future. Shouldn't they have everything possible at their disposal?
We, as parents and community leaders, must show our children the right directions to succeed in life. We must tell them of our mistakes and what they cost us. We must listen to them before we give advice because our advice will only be accepted if we understand their problems.
The new century has so much promise and excitement in which
blacks can take part. Why should we limit our kids' lives, and
our own, by continuing to search for hatred? Share yourselves
with others around you. Live life by respecting the differences
of those around you and having them respect you and your differences.
Blacks and whites are so much alike that the differences don't
matter over time. Share your feelings with others about life,
love, money and friendship and you'll find you have more in common
than you thought. When questioned by a white person,
instead of taking offense just answer the question and explain your feelings. We are so busy looking for offenses that the simplest question can be misconstrued. Can someone you've worked with for five years suddenly turn racist just for being curious about a stereotype associated with blacks?
It's said "curiosity killed the cat." Let's not kill
the cat; let's explain things to the cat. Don't make
enemies of people you've called your friends simply because their skin is a different color. Don't miss out on life and friendships because Jesse Jackson or Louis Farrakhan told you someone is holding you down. The person in the next cubicle may be a different skin color, may live in a different neighborhood and may have different views about the world, but that person
is still curious about you and your life. Time taken to sit down and talk about your differences makes them seem petty in the big picture. And we all know whom the big picture revolves around, right? OUR KIDS!
That's the common thread that binds us all as we head into this new century. We all want and expect the best for our kids. But, for that harmony to be achieved, we must put forth the effort and focus our concentration on making their lives better by letting them see our best side. We must be tolerant of others and their beliefs and be friendly to others around us. It's simply letting them see us treating others as we wish to be treated.
The next time you are in a store, at work, or some other situation where you interact with someone of another skin color, think about what I've written and think: "I'll treat this person as if I'm interacting with myself - I'll treat them as I would like to be treated." I'm sure you'll be amazed at the way things work out. And the lessons for your kids will be tremendous. After all, everything we do is for them.
Being black in the new millennium will most definitely be a
challenge, but at every turn we can do things to minimize the
pressure. But it has to come from everyone willing to do some
part to help. I'm doing my part. Are you willing to do yours?
(E. LeMay Lathan is a member of Project 21 and author of the
book The Black Man's Guide to Working in a White Man's World.
He can be reached at [email protected].)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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