Murky Waters: The Continued Search For MLK 2.0

Today’s post is merely a rant regarding my frustrations within my culture and why we are seemingly waiting on someone to deliver us from systemic social injustice in today’s economy and political climate, I hope you enjoy!

There is this illusion that in order for POC to overcome the negative effects that have resulted from decades of oppression, discrimination, and various “isms” that all have served to marginalize us, that we must invest our hope, money, energy, and valuable resources into some one, person, or thing. This entity is supposed to carry the weight of the entire group(s) problems and somehow seemingly overcome the insurmountable odds that have been strategically placed against them by the powers that be. I have come to take issue with this because it disables people and our communities as a whole while encouraging them to be dependent on the action or inaction of others. This narrative and mental conditioning that has become so popular amongst POC, especially African-Americans, is quite puzzling.

While this is and has been a viable route for addressing issues of social injustice within our communities, back-door deals, legislative policies (i.e. G.W. Bush and the ‘faith-based initiative), financial gain, and other politically-driven agendas have left many communities aghast and potential leadership compromised. Meanwhile the question of why the community or culture is dead last politically, economically, and financially persists. There are many of us who have the knowledge and skill-set to improve ourselves, families, communities and thus our culture as a collective, but perhaps out of fear and a myriad of other reasons we choose to idly sit while hoping on the next great leader or some mythical entity to save us. The truth is that the only thing we need to be saved from is this mindset that keeps telling us that we need to have this “leader” to lead us to the “promised land.”

Let’s face it the Civil Rights Movement was some 50+ years ago and has served its purpose, but in order to successfully move forward into the 21st century, we must take matters into our own hands. No one is coming to save Black America. Continuing to look for another MLK, Garvey, or Malcolm X is wishful thinking in my opinion. I am not saying that this person doesn’t exist, but in light of the current political climate many trusted organizations and would-be leaders have proven themselves unscrupulous. We have to save ourselves through the multiple channels that many of us are already subject matter experts in (i.e. education, economics, and politics).

So why can’t we save ourselves? Many of us hold several degrees, are highly skilled, educated, and resourceful yet we can’t seem to help us out. What gives? For starters we just aren’t all on the same page about how to best achieve our goals as a community, and then there are those who feel as if the culture’s problems are not their problem. When you factor this in with those of us who will always and forever sellout in an attempt to have a seat at the table with the enemy then one starts to better understand the many layers of obstacles and confusion within our community.

As a human services professional that specializes in behavioral health I truly believe that in order for there to be a true awakening within Black America, we have to start with our minds as a collective in order to rollback much of the damage that has been done. The evidence shows that years of trauma, poor education, discrimination and other systemic issues have resulted in all-out mayhem in Black America mentally, emotionally, and economically. It is my belief that the decades of social conditioning of both Black America and the greater society has led us to our current place in time. We have been conditioned to respond to aversive stimuli while greater society continues to place a social stigma on Black America further reinforcing negative outcomes. Despite feeling as if we are reliving the tumultuous times such as those of the Jim Crow era, we cannot continue to idly sit back and wait on one leader, simply because we don’t know if or when it will ever come.

So what do we do? The challenge is recognizing the deficiencies experienced by Black America on a broader scale and creating real solutions so that they can be addressed. We must also start and continue to take mental health and social/emotional learning much more serious as it is the impetus for many of the social issues we face as a community. Finally I believe the most important thing we can do is focus on child social development among our youth as much of their social development and self-identity stems from negative associations, outcomes and the continued social stigmatization of Black America.

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