By A. Peter Bailey
As we enter the last quarter of the 400th anniversary of our African ancestors being forcibly brought to enslavement in North America, here are my suggestions for 2020 and beyond:
- That we as a people stop trying to claim people who don’t want to be claimed. We are not so lacking in quality people that we have to lay claim on people who regularly insist that they are not Black artists, writers, scholars, etc. but ones who just happen to be Black. It’s time we let such people be what they want to be and call them whatever they want to be called.
- That Black people speak out in a loud voice against those writers, singers, film makers, playwrights and rappers who pass off their crude, sleazy and vulgar products as shining examples of being “Black.” They’re being “American” to sell their creations with crudeness, sleaziness and vulgarity—not being Black.
- That we recognize that our collective economic resources are a potentially powerful weapon on the struggle for equal justice and equal opportunity that we rarely, if ever, use effectively. For instance there was much talk recently about banks that seldom provide loans to Black applicants. Immediately there was a call from some for a big, loud protest. Much more effective than that would be for 500 Blacks to turn up at that bank one morning and withdraw all of their money. That’s the proper use of economic power.
- That Black folks will realize that we are sitting on top of a gold mine of Black history which, if properly mined, can be very productive for us both educationally and financially.
- That Black people recognize that there is no more valuable member of any community than a master teacher. Much more needs to be done to show such a person how much he or she is appreciated for taking on the absolutely essential task of educating our children.
- That those Black folks who are insensitive to the attempts of Native Americans to change the name of the Washington Redskins ask themselves how they would feel if the team was called the Blackskins.
- That we recognize that predatory street criminals and selfish me, myself and I Black professionals are equally destructive to efforts to build politically, economically and culturally powerful Black communities throughout the country.
- That Black students reject any notion that striving for academic excellence is somehow trying to be white. The fact that even a few Black students believe such stupidity is a victory for our enemies.
- That Black people refuse to attend any conference or seminar dealing with “The Problem of the Black This or That.” They should attend and participate in such events that focus on “How to Build Stronger Black Families, Communities, Schools, etc.” That way they will be discussing possible solutions rather than weeping and wailing and moaning and groaning with “can-you-top-this” horror stories as so often is the case in the first set of gatherings.
- That we let the whole nation know that the emphasis on Black self-help did not begin with the so-called Black conservatives. People such as Martin Delaney, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, among a host of others, were emphasizing self-help long before it was discovered by Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell. One of the major differences between the approach of those like Malcolm X and the latter is that while advocating self-help, they didn’t believe in letting the government off the hook. Black people pay much more in taxes than they get back in goods and services so they have a right to demand their share of public monies.
- Finally, that we remember what my grandmother once told me when I was over-complicating a problem. “Use your common sense, Boy,” she said. We as a people need to use our common sense in 2020 and beyond.