I Am Perplexed But Hopefully Not Defeated
What do you think is the "actual" percentage of our nation’s black urban poor who can read THE BILL OF RIGHTS, THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, or the United States CONSTITUTION? Our black communities across this nation have an increasing number of functional or downright illiterates. The recent COVID pandemic has done more damage to increasing these numbers due to the absence of classroom face-to-face literacy instruction. Our black urban communities and even black rural communities are facing a potentially disastrous situation of young adults unable to navigate even the simplest of texts. However, technological advances are going to require that these young people will be faced with the challenges of navigating text that requires college-level literary skills, not just basic elementary school reading skills.
How about understanding and acknowledging the basics of Black American history? If you ask the majority of black youths to discuss the importance of the following dates in Black American History how many could discuss the historical importance with you? The dates: August 19, 1619, January 1, 1863, December 6, 1865, July 28, 1868, February 3, 1870, May 17, 1954, August 28, 1955, December 1, 1955, June 12, 1963, September 15, 1963, August 28, 1963, July 2, 1964, February 21, 1965, August 6, 1965, April 4, 1968, April 6, 1968, and December 4, 1969. What would be their responses? Could they identify and discuss the importance in our Black American History the following individuals: Jemmy, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, David Walker, Henry Highland Garnett, Frances Harper, Josiah Henson, John Mercer Langston, Charles Redmond, William Still, The Reconstruction Capitol Men, Ida Wells-Barnett, William Monroe Trotter, John Hope, Charles Young, Claude McKay, Zora Hurston, Mary Bethune, James Lawson, Bob Moses, A. Phillip Randolph, Diane Nash, Jimmy Jackson, Arthur Gaston, E.D. Nixon, just to pull a few names that should easily be identifiable to our black children today. Do you think that our youth should know their history? Of course, they should. It's now our job to teach them.But the question I ask is how many of our young children have ever watched CNN or MSNBC to get a sense of the nation’s pulse? Why doesn’t a media channel like BET, supposedly our network of choice have a weekly or even daily a 15-30 minute show that will assist us in teaching our black story? Why do we have to wait until February of each year for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to air programs benefiting our role in black American history? How many of our children are reading digital newspapers, or a non-fictional novel that details justice and truth? However, the real truth is do they know how to pull themselves up without bootstraps like our ancestors were forced to?
How many black generations have America been responsible for losing since the 1960s’? Let's see the kids whose daddies were negatively affected by heroin abuse due to the addiction they brought home from Southeast Asia. How about the black kids whose daddies never returned from Southeast Asia. We can’t forget the crack babies and babies of those same crack babies. Crack cocaine was being flushed into our black communities by an American government bent on destroying the hopes and dreams of blacks as well as supporting imperialistic misadventures abroad. The utter destruction of the urban public school systems by the neglectful policies should shame a nation into ensuring that no child should be left behind while it seemed that the nation intended to leave every black child behind. Now we have a vast number of millennium black babies inbred to fail? America has failed our black youths. America has imprisoned and thrown away the dreams of so many of our black youth. The COVID epidemic we just encountered simply poured gasoline on a fire lit so many decades ago. If our communities don’t wake up soon we may see right before our eyes the destruction of a once-proud people.
As a community simply don't have the wealth to personally pull our brothers and sisters out of poverty. Society doesn’t seem to care. The two major political parties don’t seem to care. So, who do we go to for solutions? Not many high-paying jobs, decaying and inadequate schools, mass incarceration, hopeless and hopelessness, dreams no longer deferred but now destroyed. I'm done looking for answers. It’s been 54 years since I personally saw military tanks in my city after the murder of Martin Luther King. I lived my life wanting to better my condition and the condition of those around me. Have I failed? I don't know. Yet, I know now that I'm over my head and underwater with these community issues. Our communities need help and the people who could make a difference just don't seem to give a damn. We need soldiers in this battle for it's the battle for the survival of a proud people. We must educate our children ourselves to ensure no more generations are lost.