It feels so good to be free, doesn’t it? Free to live where we want; shop where we want; eat where we want; worship where we want; vote for who we want; and do whatever we want to do.
I mean, we all are free, aren’t we? Or are we really free?
I will venture to tell you that the “so-called” freedom that we feel that we as a collective group of people have now in this country is so limited and stifled, it should make your head spin. I mean, how many times do we have to hear the proverbial, “I told you so,” or “I’m not surprised” comments, before Black folks begin to realize that the Constitution of the United States, along with the original laws and systems in this country weren’t meant for or designed for them?
Think about it and let’s be real. Regardless of whether we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States; fight for this country as a member of the military; participate in the Olympic Games; or claim to be a patriotic and proud American who follows all the rules that have been put in place, it’ll never stop those who truly have control over those laws and systems from doing things to remind us that Black folks are not equal in their minds and should be treated as such.
Black folks have done their best to fit in and get those in control to accept them as equals. It has not worked. Maybe a few Black people have personally benefitted, but not as a collective unit.
Integration is a fallacy and has been a pipe dream for many Black people.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term ‘integration’ is defined as “the practice of uniting people from different races in an attempt to give people equal rights.”
Where have Black people been truly given equal rights, except on paper? When have Americans in control and power of laws and systems, truly come together in unity to ensure that Black people received equitable treatment? And don’t try to throw Affirmative Action at me, which now benefits every other race, group and subgroup in this country beyond Black people.
Integration is a forced behavior that ensures that you get the intended result you want – equality. Black people have never been integrated. Instead, we’ve experienced ‘desegregation’.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term ‘desegregation’ is defined as “the act or process or an instance of ending a law or practice that separates people of different races.”
Not only did this myth of ‘integration’ confuse Black folks, it also gave us this false sense of equality and entitlement, along with this newfound sense of power, whereby we believed we were actually equal to White people, because the law said so and it was on paper.
The journey of Black folks in America reminds me so much of the Prodigal Son story in the Bible. According to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15:11-32), the youngest son of a father demands that he be given his promised inheritance immediately, so that he could go out and experience the world. The father gives it to the younger son, but he eventually squanders it all on wasteful and extravagant living. After he loses all of his inheritance, the prodigal son goes hungry during a famine and hits rock-bottom. He eventually comes to his senses and realizes that his life was so much better when he was at home with his family. He returns home and apologizes for leaving, where instead of being angry the father holds a big feast to celebrate his return. The older son initially refuses to participate, stating that in all the time the son has worked for the father, he did not even give him a goat to celebrate with his friends. The father reminds the older son that everything the father has belongs to him, but that they should still celebrate the return of his younger brother because he came back home to them.
Now how does that relate to us as Black people? I’m glad you asked.
To make it simple, just like the Prodigal Son, we as Black people decided to cash in on our newfound inheritance and deliberately abandoned the villages which gave them strength. We chose to abandon a collective community who has historically sacrificed so much for their own people. We chose to abandon a collective community who has worked so hard to provide their own people with a rich inheritance that we have been able to benefit from and take advantage of.
And sadly, because many of us have believed that “Mr. Charlie’s ice is colder,” many of us chose to move close to other racial groups in the suburbs, in order to feel integrated. Many of us chose to move away and study at the finest colleges, with the hopes of getting a good paying job, while abandoning their family businesses, hoping that they would be socially accepted. Many of us began shopping and eating at places they previously couldn’t, with the hopes of feeling equal.
Those feelings were a farce. Those feelings were not real. In reality, their perceived equality only existed on paper, not in the real world. It was a fairy tale, masked by their ability to attain riches and status and material stuff.
Like the prodigal son eventually realized, it’s time for us as Black folks to come to our senses and remember what brought us this great inheritance of freedom and liberty in this country. We must come back to our foundational roots in order to advance our cause on a collective basis.
We must come to our senses and realize that what we are doing isn’t working and unless things change, we will find ourselves in an even worse position. We don’t have to sit idly by and wait for change; we can demand change by changing our view of America and making decisions to come together in unity as we did once before. Whether we like it or not. Whether we accept it or not. Whether we believe it or not. Black people are one big dysfunctional family, who need to have a family reunion to deal with our issues and right the ship.
Black folks, listen up, it’s time to for all of us to come back home like the Prodigal Son did, and take our rightful place as the Kings and Queens we truly are. Black folks, listen up, we need to come back home and do it right away before it’s too late. Our future Kings and Queens are depending on us to change our ways and get our house in order.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org