It’s February so that means countless Facebook statuses and tweets will remind us to glorify Black History month. They will send quotes and facts about the usual suspects (Martin, Malcolm, Thurgood, Rosa Parks etc) and celebrate that we have the shortest month of the year to celebrate generations of achievement. While this is inherently misguided, I won’t trash the observance too much. My concern is bigger than a pat on the back from White America. The last few decades have shown us that we have a lack of black leadership and heroes ready to be the next in the annals of the celebrated. I ask you; where are this generations Martin and Malcolm? Where are the new black leaders?
The first thing that comes out of some people’s mouths when I ask this question is “we got Obama!” Yes, I understand that Barack made history, but we can’t use him as our sole example o black empowerment and leadership. That highlights the fact that our outstanding black leadership is few and far between. We point to our Barack’s and say “we’re good.” No we aren’t! Just because a black man has the most powerful position in the world doesn’t mean we have arrived. It means there aren’t any more excuses! We should look at Obama for inspiration and strive to go higher.
Another issue is that Obama isn’t in a position to be a black leader. He has a country to run and many more interests than just one community (even if it is his own). That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care and he won’t find time to take care of his own as you can see HERE. It means he sees the forest from the trees, and knows he can’t be seen in such a segmented and limited role when there are bigger things that the job of president requires.
Have we gotten too complacent? After our victory in the civil rights era, many African Americans feel like we just stopped. We chilled. We were happy with those baseline rights and government assistance and didn’t feel the need to mobilize any longer. This caused stagnation in our communities and we didn’t strive to see change, we just wanted to live the American dream in the monetary sense.
It is this same complacency that lets us have the same old Al Sharpton’s and Jesse Jackson’s of the world be the sole voice of modern black activism. They are older voices of the struggle, and need new diverse voices in our communities to gain the respect and the ear of the new generation. If we continue on this path, we will only have athletes and entertainers of our race being the representatives for a serious black voice. Some are cool, but I’d rather not have America think a rapper or sports star is the only type of people of color that can give an articulate and educated perspective of the plight of blacks in America.
Maybe it isn’t cool anymore to be a leader. Maybe everyone is so concerned with getting theirs that they don’t have the time or the desire to be the voice of a people. I can’t knock anyone’s hustle or even call them wrong. I just wonder who will be next. Are we too complacent with status quo? Has that same apathy manifested itself as a lack of heart to struggle like our ancestors to fight for what’s right? Sending out a RT is the most active we want to be nowadays.
When I was younger, I always had hopes of being a prominent individual and to one day see my name amongst the black history greats. Years later, I wonder if my dream should’ve been to see black history celebrated all year round and for more than our famous, familiar legends to etch their names in history. To show that greatness has never been hindered in blacks in America. Guess we’ll have to wait a little longer.