Friday, April 14, 2006

Black Folks - It’s Time to Lay Down the Mantle by Dell Gines

We have been through a lot as a people group, the middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, segregation and the composite effects of those things on our current generation. To overcome we rebelled, we ran, we politicked, we hustled, and we marched. Our history is one of overcoming in the face of tyranny and abuse, of facing down psychological warfare, and social and economic disenfranchisement.

Because of this history many of us, and logically so, feel it is our responsibility to preserve for others the things we ourselves have won. Considered as the moral conscience of America, when outrages that smack of social injustice occur we are usually the first group in line to denounce them, even if the one offended against isn’t a member of ‘our’ group. We view that as our mantle by virtue of our legacy in America. I believe it is time that we lay that mantle down.

During the recent immigration rallies one of the things that you saw was black folk at the forefront, on the podiums, in support. On the street level you heard rumblings from black folk that illegal immigrants were being used, exploited, ‘disenfranchised’ and should be allowed to have the rights as citizens. Valid or invalid perspectives aside, our historical memory resonated with the rhetoric of the supporters of the movement. We asked ourselves how can we who fought for our enfranchisement in America not support the enfranchisement of others? We wore our mantle.

It is time to lay that mantle down. Why? It is because we must deal with the realities of our situation as Black Americans today. In our effort to be the arbiter of social justice for all, we have effectively eliminated our own progress as a group. In our desire to ensure equality for everyone our effectiveness at creating equality for ourselves has diminished. As we spread our intellectual capital, our human capital, and our emotional energy into issues such as this immigration issue that clearly benefits another ethnic group while doing nothing to materially advance our own we keep ourselves in post-civil rights limbo. Our best and brightest seem to co-mingle social justice for all with black elevation for us. This is a mixture that doesn’t mix well when economic growth and power is the next hurdle that must be jumped in our continue struggle as blacks.

So it is time to lay the mantle down. It is time to circle the wagons, and re-position ourselves to escape the post civil rights funk we are in. We need to turn our intellectual capital, human capital and emotional energy on issues exclusively related to black empowerment, particularly on an economic level in America. We are carrying that unnecessary burden to fix all of the nations acts that we perceive to be acts social injustice and it is a burden that we are simply not strong enough to carry and be effective at dealing with our own issues.

We are sensitive and compassionate, and those are noble traits to have, but our sensitivity and compassion for others should never supercede our desire for elevation of us. Our struggles have made us sensitive, but our struggles are not over. When we are at the place we need to be as black folks, then we can pick up that mantle of social justice and we will have the strength to carry the burden of being America’s moral conscience. Until then we need to lay that mantle down and free our strengths in focus of our own people.

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