As the year comes to a close, reflections about what the outgoing year brought and what the upcoming year will bring are appropriate. The point of such reflections is to learn from what has happened and to take those lessons into the new year.
This year has brought a declaration that is truly worthy of thinking about and it is a simple declaration: “Black Lives Matter.”
These words came out of protests and demonstrations sparked by the killings of unarmed Black men at the hands of police officers in different parts of the country, from the Midwest to the Northeast to the West Coast and different points in between.
Black Lives Matter. Or, perhaps, Black Lives should Matter, and Black lives should matter most to Black people. That means that whether the issue is lives lost at the hands of police officers who see themselves as an occupying force when it comes to Black neighborhoods or the fratricidal violence that causes thousands of deaths each year, Black people should be at the forefront of not only protesting the loss of life but working ceaselessly to avoid the loss of Black life.
Protests are necessary when life is lost as a clear statement that such losses are unacceptable and that those who are no longer with us matter and deserve to be remembered.
But, as valuable as public demonstrations are, there must be a constant effort to affirm the value of Black life through our actions because our lives have never been valued in this country. From the time our forefathers were dragged here in chains, we have been seen as commodities and as property. Even our being “counted” by the framers of the Constitution was for the benefit of our slavemasters and their political representation–and not anything that affirmed our intrinsic worth. We have only mattered to the degree that our existence has benefitted the existence of our slavemasters and their children.
So the value placed on our lives will never come from those who have enslaved, slaughtered, miseducated and destroyed us. Our value can only come when we understand that who and what we are does not start and end with our enemies. Our value starts and ends with our recognition of who we are and our duty to do something for ourselves, to define ourselves, to develop ourselves, to respect ourselves, to protect ourselves. Such understanding is natural to any people who know who they are and who embrace their importance.
We are a people who have been turned upside down and inside out. Today we can be our own worst enemies through our outright attacks on one another, our willingness to target and betray one another at the order of our oppressors and our actions that spring from the deeply rooted disease of self-hatred.
It appears as though we would suffer any indignity, any abuse, any mistreatment rather than accept that we are the ones that we have been waiting for. We seem to have, or have had, endless patience and ceaseless optimism that if we simply press others long enough and hard enough, our cries will be heard and our suffering will be alleviated.
Yet nothing bears witness that such a belief is true. Just six years ago the election of Barack Obama to the office of president of the United States was met with tears of joy and flag waving. There were books written about the “new ways” to be Black and the dawn of a “post racial” age was declared. It is almost laughable that so many of us thought that sitting someone who looked like the slaves into the seat of pharaoh would herald liberation.
The joy of yesterday and yesterday’s possibility or yesterday’s fantasy of reconciliation is long gone and the current racial crisis in America makes one wonder if there ever was such hope and expectation. An entire political movement was spawned because a Black man sat in the White House and Republicans publically declared their purpose was to ruin the Obama presidency before it even started.
It looks like the bad old days are back and back with a vengeance.
The truth is our future is not to be determined by others, it is to be determined by us. But what a difficult thing it is for a slave to accept that he is free and not only free but favored by God Himself. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, have declared that today is the day of our rise and that nothing can stop us.
They have shown us via scripture and by incredible and miraculous work that includes everything from an economic empire in the 1960s and 1970s to the largest public demonstration in the history of the country and perhaps the world with the Million Man March in 1995. Along the way, the Nation has offered models for independent schools, models for reforming those called the worst of society and a cadre of men and women who have refused to abandon their community for the approval and acceptance of their former slavemasters. Despite slander, targeting, plots, hypocrites and personal shortcomings, the Nation stands today.
And though it may appear crude to those looking from the outside, this ark is the place of refuge for our people. Not only as a movement to join but as an entity devoted to the totality of our people and their destiny. No other Black leader can honestly lay claim to the bold defense of Black America, Black leaders, Black youth, Black women, Black children and all segments of the Black community at the level delivered by Min. Farrakhan. Such a statement is not for praise or bravado but simply stated as a fact.
We can no longer look outward for affirmation and direction. We must turn inward, declare Black Lives Matter and follow up that cry with unprecedented efforts to unite and serve one another in 2015. Are we to forever be a poor, suffering and degraded people? Are we forever to be a nation of apologists and accomodationists? Are we forever doomed to dance, smile and sing to please our oppressors while behind that mask is a boiling rage fueled by centuries of injustice? Enough is enough. It is time to stop the madness and time to reject the delusion and illusion that America will accept us. She simply cannot and she will not.
If we truly believe Black Lives Matter we must take actions that show we truly believe what we say and are speaking truth with our lips and not failing to support truth with our hands. In 2015 let us prove Black Lives Matter by doing everything that we can to build a reality for ourselves and proving the truth of what we say.