The controversy surrounding Jason Whitlock and his statement that wealth and status allows “black” stars to escape the clutches of racism is the new outrage that is yet again setting the “internets” on fire. Hashtags and memes abound as one “woke” intellect after the next is pilling on Jason for daring to diffuse the pernicious and pervasive nature of racism in America. In all honesty though, I agree with what Jason said for the most part. I’ve written in the past that racism is what occurs when bigotry meets power. I know I run the risk of irking the reactionary crowd here by saying this, but “black” folk who reach the social strata of fame and gain power are not victims of racism the way that folk in the inner cities in Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and beyond are.
Constantly screaming racism is what diffuses the true malice that is resides behind a systematic form of oppression that kills hope for millions of people simply because of their skin tone. But we are so caught up in being reactionary as a people that few among us take the time to rationally assess a way forward and fewer still are interested in finding solutions. We just want to rage for the sake of rage; this is precisely why demagogues and firebrands keep taking advantage of our suffering and our pains in order to game the system for themselves. Malcolm X said it best, some of the biggest enemies of “black folk “are the benighted gentry and the upper crust bourgeoisie who don’t want anything to do with the masses unless they are using “black” folk as a business hustle to gain yet more checks from the same system they are supposedly fighting against.
In all honesty though, I’m not here to discuss the macro-paradigm that serves to hobble a large swath of “black” folk into a perpetual state of hopelessness, dependency and indigence. Instead, I want to talk about the struggle that is within and how we can best break free from the chains of the past. Bob Marley said it best, we have to free ourselves from mental slavery. A mental slavery that comes by way of malicious labels imposed on us, hatred that has been inculcated in us, and a sense of deficiency which is embedded deep in our collective psyche. A people robbed of their identity have been led wayward to accept identity from the perspective of the very oppressors who robbed them of their identity to begin with.
How much longer are we going to keep marching and protesting and yet in the end being stuck in a dead end? We are a people being led astray by one too many “leaders” who are prospering by using our pains as stepping stones to success. There is an industry of grievance peddlers who have no interest in our collective success, these same people who we keep elevating as prophets are actually shysters who depend on injustice to get paid. This is why professors, pundits, politicians and preachers alike (the 4 P’s of oppressors) keep teaching us that we are victims instead of inculcating in our hearts a spirit of victors. Stop begging to be liberated! Yes, a lot of injustices have been committed against us. But damn how much longer are we going to sing that sad song as the world keeps passing us by. We have the resources and talent to free ourselves, stop begging the “white man” to accept us as we concurrently blame the system. Rise up and free ourselves or we will forever remain mired in mediocrity and hopelessness.
I’m going to let the video pick up where I am leaving off. In all honesty, one article is not enough to delve into and discuss the endless ways we have been conditioned to accept hateful labels like black, African, and “people of color”–all of these labels meant to define us as others and in the process dehumanize us. This is precisely the point at which I lose the reactionary crowd because it takes a level of deep commitment to discover truth in spite of the pains truths beget in order to find redemption found in self-awareness. For those who are committed to true change, I challenge you to watch the video below not with a closed mind for the sake of debating but with an open heart for the sake of edifying ourselves. It will not take long as you are watching the video to find out why I use quote marks on “black” and why the video is titled “We Are Not Black”.
While I am not in the business of defending mainstream media journalists as most of the time find myself to be repulsed by them, I give an exception to Jason Whitlock on this front for he spoke truth even as it leads to endless arrows and aspersions being cast his way. Courage to speak against the crowd and to challenge conventional wisdom is the only way we can free our minds from the bondage of mental slavery. We must find a way to confront the past and then find our identity not through words imposed upon us but by understanding ourselves as God made us and as our ancestors birthed us. I hope you join me on this journey of discovery; it takes a village of free thinkers and solutionaries to free a people from the legacy of the past. #WeNeedSolutionaries
“You can’t legislate good will–that comes through education.” ~ Malcolm X
If you appreciate this article and understand the intention behind the message, share this article on social media and use #WeAreNotBlack
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
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