By Hakim Abdul-Ali
In Black America, as it is in the other various other Americas of modernity, there’s a persistent thought always floating around in the individual and collective mental psyches of everyone. And that’s about achieving something notable for self and to provide and take care of one’s family and loved ones.
“Delving Deep Into Black Striving”, in particular, is attempting to be “something” in this society amidst the challenges lurking all around, fully understanding that nothing can be achieved without the importance of establishing goals and putting forth one’s best in making every endeavor manifest in attaining them. For some, it’s an easy task, and for others, well, let’s just say that it can be a dream deferred and permanently put on hold in many norms.
Today, to that end, I’d like to share a little bit of insight about goal setting, or striving in general, from my personal vantage point, accented by the wisdom from some truly great minds from the African Diaspora. Many of these folk you may instantly recognized and some others you may have to look them up to see who they are and were and what they accomplished in their lives that made them notably noteworthy.
First, I’ll attempt to “throw my two cents in” as the older Afro-Americans in my former worlds of existences would flippantly say when anyone added something to a discussion of the moment. I trust that you’ll appreciate where I’m coming from in either instance.
Listen carefully because I want you to know that I had the honor of having a wise and dedicated mother, who was a revered schoolteacher, to always keep me on point about goal setting. She told me to always know that I could accomplish anything positive and worthwhile in life if I only (but) put my mind, body and soul into whatever pursuit I desired. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t.
Mom would oftentimes tell me that with God’s help and by applying discipline to the task at hand, I’d be able to do anything that I put my heart and soul into. My dearly beloved mother, who died in 1985, would always tell that if I had the Creator of everything and everyone on my side, in my quest of life’s goals, I could never go wrong.
This very spiritually leaning ebony lady of soul told me that there would be pitfalls and mine fields in my path that I’d have to overcome, as she described life’s trials, but if I stuck to my desired goals, I would achieve whatever I was pursuing in due time. Somehow, in my life’s journeys thus far, I’ve never forgotten the wisdom that my mother laid on me back then, especially about hanging in there when times are rough.
One other thing that she always taught me, using her golden voice, was that the devil of negativity is always creeping around an individual’s positive attempts to achieve anything meaningful in life. She also emphasized that in striving towards anyone’s goals or aims in life, “one must be remain patient and be steadfast in whatever you’re pursuing,” and I can’t say that motto enough. It’s the truth.
You see, Mom had the spiritual strength of a focused mother lion, but she was so calmly gentle and so persistently patient until I, to this day, don’t understand how she took care of as much business as she did in the prejudiced, racist and bigoted America of her time.
In many ways, with covert bigotries galore still facing the Afro-Americans big time, Mom’s examples of striving under harsh, discriminate pressures and enduring in difficult, anti-Black scenarios, showed me subliminally that patience is the key to the door of relief in dealing with life’s tests and hurdles in so many formats.
Trying to achieve one’s goal, especially if you’re of color in “the land of the sometimes separate and still unequal,” is a dastardly walk through the mine fields of the alleged democratic ballyhooed “freedom, justice and liberty for all” pretense.
In looking at what you want out of life in this racially divided nation, you have to have irreversible faith in the Most High Alone in your own soul and possess mental toughness in your mind and heart in order to combat the wicked demons of racism and bigotry that, sadly, still exists in some Americans’ personas and dispositions.
To that end, respectfully please take a good listen to some thoughts of a few Afro-Americans, e.g., who strove to be something amidst the virulence of racism and bigotry. Sidney Bechet, the great jazz musician, who was born in 1897 and died in 1959, was heard to have said, “My people, all they want is a place where they can be people, a place where they can stand up and be part of that place, just being natural to the place without worrying how someone may be coming along to take that place away from them.” Delve into that if you will.
Continuing, Dorothy Height, the National Council of Negro Women president and activist, who was born in 1912 and died in 2010, gave some dynamic insight about striving towards one’s goal in the face of overwhelming odds. She said, “Greatness is not measured by what a man or a woman accomplishes, but the opposition (that) he or she has to overcome to reach his or her goals.”
In many ways this is what I now know and believe that my late mother was also warning me of. A. Philip Randolph, the revered labor leader, once said,”If Negroes secure their goals, immediate and remote, they must win them, and to win they must fight, sacrifice, suffer, go to jail, and, if need be, die for them.” Delve into this for a stone cold moment, if you dare.
Now that’s some real heady and heavy stuff if you realize that struggling for anything worthwhile in life, especially if you’re of color living in Babylon west, comes at a price. Many consciously aware ethnic folk understand this without me having to elaborate further, and to some others, I, regretfully assume, they may think that that which they desire and will make them successful will fall miraculously out of the sky for them to accomplish those ends.” Are you still delving?
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, commonly known as Malcolm X, who was born in 1925 and was assassinated in 1965, defiantly uttered, “In the ghettos the white man has built for us, he has forced us not to aspire to greater things, but to view life as survival.”
Delve into that slowly. And even though you may love him, or vehemently disagree with him, Brother Malcolm X’s truthful words of yesterday seem so surreal and relevant today if you ask me. Delve into today’s Black on Black crime, if you care to.
Michelle Wallace, author and journalist, who was born in 1952, related,”When I was in the third grade I wanted to be president. I can still remember the stricken look on my teacher’s face when I announced it in class. By the time I was in the fourth grade I had decided to be the president’s wife instead. It never occurred to me I could be neither because I was Black.”
Delve into that and thank goodness for steadfast strivers and faithful believers like Barack Hussein Obama ll and Michelle Obama, proving that dreams, aspirations and strivings do occur, even for once unthinkable and previously unattainable positions of political hierarchy. Again, slowing Delve into that.
Know that Olympian great athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who was born in 1962, profoundly said,”I always had something to shoot for each year: to jump one inch farther.” I pause now and politely ask you, “How far are you trying to jump (farther) today and this year in order to bring your goals, aspirations, dreams or strivings into fruition?” Delve into that at your own risk.
That finally brings me today to some thoughts from some more eminent ebony folk and their vibes about goal striving. Arthur Ashe, the great tennis champion, who was born in 1943 and died in 1993, related, “Racism is not an excuse to not do the best (that) you can.” Please remember this, and forever teach it to your family, friends and associates. Delve into positive thinking.
So, in conclusion, to one and all, I’ll leave you with some powerhouse thoughts from none other than the heralded nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, who was born in 1887 and died 1940, and he said, “Up you mighty race. You can accomplish what you will.”
As you delve in that, I believe that no more needs to be said. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”