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Tender is the Thought of Freedom
7/8/2015 3:04:19 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali

I'm from the old school of thinking where the love of freedom is a valued commodity. I guess you probably wouldn't deem that a strange sentiment considering that I'm an authentic so-called aware-minded thinking baby boomer.

My consciousness was well-honed during the '60s where liberation-like thoughts passed before me and many other African-Americans' mind-sets with a committed political hopefulness and a prideful sense of ethnic purpose. Being of color in that era was such an impelling feeling of African awareness and to be a part of that cohesive unity flow has been unrivaled, "As I See It," since that memorable time in space.

That's my honest assessment because in many ways the feeling of Black pride, as we speak of and observe it presently, is a lost art and it has become watered down cliche among some "colored" folk today. I offer that analysis because I don't see any real Black Studies programs in existence and there's a waning, if not dead, desire on the parts of a great majority of some Black folks to learn about "our-story."

I was reminded of that fact the other when when a young African-American youth told me in no uncertain terms that he didn't know anything about Black History and, furthermore, he didn't care about knowing about it. He flatly said that he wasn't interested in learning anything about our past because that wasn't going to do him any good in the present nor in the future.

What a shame! That meeting made me view him, as a representative of some of today's young Afro-Americans lack of knowledge of "our-story," with sadness and sorrow. I felt that way because when you don't know where you came from, how will you know where to go.

Again, the tide of today's twisted whims, momentary fads and blended bags of quasi-this and quasi-that, sans African heritage, has left many "colored" folk out in the cold. In many ways, where are we headed when our youth could care less about learning about those ebony heroes and sheroes who made it possible for so many of us to be where we are? Hmm! The young Black youth, who I was rapping with, along with his current apathetical views about learning about us is sadly atypical of many young folks his age. I probably can't blame him, especially understanding what that the climate of America's
urban educational school plantation systems is nationally.

We all know that there's a tragedy afoot in the nation's inner city educational malaise that our youth have been indoctrinated into. That calamity is taking root in the high dropout rates among Black youth, poor academic standards, unequaled educational opportunities for so-called minority youth and the escalating Black on Black crime syndrome that seems to dominate today's hip "colored" teenage populace today. Some of these youth are members of this country's soon-to-be increasing invisible permanent second class citizenry without a clue as to what they face in life without the legitimate knowledge of self and their ancestral heritage. Where's the freedom to come in escaping from that kind of "his-storical" abject dysfunctional dilemma?

I wonder as I think about that and what else to put together for this article that can top the travesty of our unenlightened and mis-educated youth of today, who could care less about knowing what being ancestrally "Black and Proud" really is all about. It's a tender moment for me to pause, think and reflect back when studying about and reading up on Black "Our-Story" in the '60s was a perpetual learning boost for aware Afro-centered folk back in the day.

That was a special time in my view because learning about Black achievers was a key to inspiring me and others to realize that if our noble ancestors could do it, so could we. I'm forever grateful to my dear mother who tenderly would quote the sayings of many successful and notable African-Americans, which helped motivate me to never give up on my dream of making it. Freedom is a wake-up call.

I learned from her that "life for the Black man and woman in this country has always been (and is) a continual testing field for the seeker of wisdom and that knowing where you came from was a knowledgeable passage to escaping the pangs of ignorant and idyll thinking." That's how she exactly described it to me in her sweet, but ever-so direct method of home schooling me about Black survival in this country.

Mom would say, "Tender is the Thought of Freedom" whenever I'd ask how do we overcome being enslaved to mediocrity and why so many Blacks are mentally lazy and are afraid to stand up for justice. She told me that freedom is something that is granted to you by God and not man, and if I understood that, then pursue the world of knowledge and let it be my magic carpet to liberation. I've been trying to follow that path ever since she tenderly said same to me.

You see, my mother was a schoolteacher by profession, so you know that I couldn't escape being taught daily in some shape, manner or form, about the realities of Black upward mobility. Education was the means towards that end, and she always tenderly advocated that knowledge of self (and others) are the keys to breaking the mental bondage of ignorance. I remember that she once told me that the great statesman, Ralph Bunche, said, "When people seek freedom, they are always impatient," and I do believe that best describes the way the impatient Afro-minded folk of my generation felt. I might add to that, as my good friend from my old Newark, New Jersey, days, Mr. C, used to say to me and that was that "you've got to be hungry" to learn if you want to achieve any worthwhile thing in this life.

Mom told also me that Zora Neale Hurston, the late famous writer and folklorist, said," No man may make another free. Freedom was something internal. The outside signs were just signs and symbols of the man inside. All you could do was to give the opportunity for freedom and the man himself must make his own emancipation." Think about that for a tender moment, if you dare.

I hope that you have, remembering that "All Lives Matter," including the Black Ones also. Freedom for all Americans is a tender thought, but it must made into a practical reality for every "hue-man" being. For today and always, let freedom ring, and that's, "As I See It."

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