01 Dec 2000 So What Do We Do Now? by Kimberley Jane Wilson
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
Well, thank God that’s all over.
I’m talking about the presidential election.
A one-day event turned into a month long farce that had the whole world laughing at America. Of course, being laughed at by Europe is no worse than being laughed at by a senile old aunt, but the Russians and Chinese aren’t senile. Both nations are home to hard people who may surprise us someday.
I know many blacks, Jesse Jackson included, are bitterly disappointed. Some folks are talking about marching and carrying on about a “civil rights explosion.” I don’t think that will work. Judging from the so-so turnout for the Million Family March, it’s pretty safe to say that we’re all marched out. No, instead of dramatic marches and speeches, we need some serious action.
First, let’s do something about education. In 1881, Booker T. Washington started a school that is still educating thousands of black youths today. He did this in the heart of Dixie in a time when black men were still being lynched at the drop of a hat. Today, black boys have the lowest literacy rate of any American-born group. This is inexcusable.
Let’s make sure our kids are educated. Without that foundation, they have no chance whatsoever. Let me put it another way. If your child is functionally illiterate, then his or her chances of moving beyond the bottom rung of the economic ladder are between slight and impossible.
I don’t care if your method is vouchers, home schooling, charter schools or some new invention – let’s take every avenue and previously untraveled road toward bringing our kids up to speed. Parents have got to get involved in what’s going on in schools, and teachers have got to give up the extracurricular crap and actually teach some reading, writing and that old devil, arithmetic.
Second, let’s get rich. Yes, you read correctly. I said, let’s get rich. Blacks have been in this country for close to 400 years. Our ancestors’ free labor made this country wealthy and strong. So isn’t it time for us to participate in the greatest economic miracle on the face of the Earth? Everybody wants to come to America. Every day thousands of people risk death, deportation and their life’s savings to get a piece of the USA’s pie. They know that a free man in America will always do better than an economic slave. Black Americans should have a head start over these people. After all, we’re already here!
What black America needs is millions of businessmen. I don’t want to hear any more talk. I don’t want another government program. We’ve got enough politicians and preachers. Now we need folks who can make a profit and provide jobs for the inner city. Don’t let the fear of racism stop you. Look at the example of the Jews and the Asians. Neither group started out as popular additions to America, but both groups have prospered by making themselves indispensable.
Look at the examples from black history like Madam C.J. Walker, who became the first black millionairess when Jim Crow was still flying high. Maggie Lena Walker, born in 1867, was the first woman of any color to own a bank. She did this in Richmond, Virginia – the former capital of the confederacy.
S.B. Fuller’s grit and single-minded desire to be rich kept him going even when envious whites tried to burn his business. He became a very wealthy man, owned several factories and employed thousands. Reginald Lewis amassed a fortune of 400-million dollars before his untimely death. He was the richest black man in America and controlled a billion-dollar corporation.
Do your children know who these people were? Tonight, tell them to put away those rap CDs and turn off the television. Black youth watch more television than anybody else and it’s not helping. Sit down with them and tell them about black history so they’ll be inspired to make some of their own.
Finally, let’s stop all the wailing and gnashing of teeth. George W. Bush is not the worst thing to happen to us. Andrew Johnson turned his back on the Freedmen’s Bureau and did next to nothing to ensure the safety of the freed slaves. Woodrow Wilson thought Birth of a Nation was the greatest movie ever made and called it a true history. These two men were quite possibly the most openly anti-black presidents this country has ever had or will have, and they couldn’t stop black progress.
Some folks will see the results of the 2000 presidential election as a crisis. Others will see it as an opportunity. The cards have been dealt. What you make of your hand is entirely up to you.
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.