I call us cowards.
It’s almost as if people have forgotten that struggle includes struggling. You might have to lose your job. You might have to lose your life. That’s what it takes for change to happen. There’s no easy way to do this. If you’re scared to stand up for yourself, for whatever reason, all I ask is that you stop pretending. Stop with the Facebook posts. Stop with the meaningless conversations. Just stop. Be honest. About how you behave. About your part in all this madness. About what you are. A coward. Just a coward. No need to put on an act for the rest of us. We can all see right through each other.
One last thing . . .
For those of you who have made it this far without stopping for how furious at me your shame has made you, I want you to know something. I don’t really think black people are cowards. I think humans are cowards. Most of us. I think that regardless of where one’s phenotype places them within the imaginary concept of race, that the majority of us are content to live on our knees rather than die on our feet.
The problem is, we, us, black people, can’t afford to be like everyone else anymore. Not if we want to survive. I don’t know how we got here, but everywhere you look we’re at the bottom of the global totem pole. We need to make history. We can’t be cowards like every one else, not any more. In fact, we need to set a new standard for heroism. For bravery. For courage. Maybe a standard never before seen in the history of humankind. Extreme situations call for extreme measures, and in modern times our inferiority is ingrained in every single aspect of our lives, from our media, to our religion, to our science, to our public education, to our higher education, to Africa appearing to be the same size as Greenland on all of the maps despite the fact that in reality Africa is 14 times larger. It’s harder to see our enemies than it’s ever been. Our enemy isn't white people. It's people who value greed more than human life. Racial division is one of their oldest weapons, and media is their latest. We mustn’t forget how young this weapon is. I didn’t grow up using the Internet. The television itself isn’t even 100 years old. The idea of global celebrity, and global transference of ideas and perceptions of culture, has never existed the way it does today. Just as Howard Beale prophesized in Network in 1976, we’re up against “the most awesome God damned propaganda force in the whole Godless world.”
We’re going to have to step it up.
If you’re down to step it up, let’s step it up. Let’s boycott. Boycott was the foundation of the Civil Rights movement. Do you believe that a cable network exists solely to manipulate the perception of black people? Stop watching it. Don’t put up a post one day praising the episode of Boondocks that never aired and then spend the next day tweeting the entire BET awards. That doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s step it up. If every NBA player who wanted to stand up against racism vowed not to play until the Clippers’ owner resigned, it would be announced that he resigned before you were finished reading this. If he didn’t want to, someone would make him. If we boycotted every night spot that spins music about how much we love killing each other and taking and selling drugs, every single one of them would have new DJs by next week (don’t even get me started on these new DJs. The new drug dealers. Admitting that they know what they’re giving people is bad for them but caring more about getting paid). I went to DJ Spinna’s Michael Jackson/Prince party at SRBs last night and there was more dancing and mirth and free love in that place than every hip hop party in NYC in the last 10 years put together. So when people tell you that we need ratchet nonsense to dance, they’re gaming you. Don’t be so gullible. Don’t act like black people only found out how to have fun when we lost our connection to our own human decency.
Let’s step it up and not buy magazines pushing music designed to glamorize a lifestyle certain to land our youth in prison.
Let’s step it up and take off from work and stay home with our kids until these preposterous tenure rules are revoked from public schools and it’s the kids that can’t be fired, not the teachers.
Let’s step it and use social media to rally each other. Everybody knew about that woman who fired a warning shot and got 20 years (I hear she’s been released now. No thanks to us). Everybody knows about that woman who got however many years for leaving her child in the car while she went to a job interview. Every single week all over Facebook there’s a new video of someone catching a beating as bad as the one Rodney King caught, but I never see a post that says, “Share this if you’ll go on strike from work until these police officers are fired.” “Share this if you’ll strike until this woman is released.” “Share this if you won’t spend a single dollar until Troy Davis is released from death row and granted a new trial.” Can you imagine the impact that that would have? Everybody is always trying to act there’s no solutions. There are plenty of solutions. We're just too cowardly to implement them. Worried about this discomfort or that discomfort, great or small, that might take place as a result. Having to find a new place to party. Or a new show to watch. Isn’t the discomfort of oppression enough? There’s plenty of solutions, just no easy ones, but if we can shift to courage instead of cowardice, there’s more than enough solutions to guarantee our success. Guarantee. Next time you’re complaining about how this country was built on us, take a second to think about the fact that it still is. If we want to, we can shut this whole place down.
So make a decision between cowardice and courage, and if you choose courage, step it up. Step it up in any of the myriad of ways that are available to us. I’ve named a few. Name a few more. Leave a few suggestions in the comments section. Call up your friends. Tweet. Facebook.
Then start doing them. If you can’t convince anyone to do them with you, do them on your own. Start right away because we’re running out of time. I hear some states are fining people for sagging their pants. I’d never sag my pants, but if we begin to allow people to be penalized simply for attributes that we’ve allowed to be associated with being black, we’re going to find the water getting even hotter very soon.
We’ve been cowards for a very long time. We have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s start right now.
For those of you who don’t want to step it up, do me a favor and at least unfriend me.