“I fear that I have integrated my people into a burning house.”
These are the timeless words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. following the passing of Civil Rights legislation desegregating America. I was reminded of Doc’s words as I watched buildings burn in cities across America in rebellion to the murder of George Floyd by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department.
King was on point.
As America’s cities were being held hostage by riots, I could not help but think of my ancestors who were beaten, hung and burned at the stake, in the streets of these very cities. As I watch the very economy, that the blood of our fathers was shed to build, become weakened, I am reminded of what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Jefferson was on point.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “Do for Self.”
Marcus Garvey said, “Up you mighty nation; you can accomplish what you will.”
Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Booker T. Washington said, “No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
Harriet Tubman said, “Never would a snake; kill it.” They were all on point.
The question at hand is, “Are we?”
The voice of Black America has spoken louder, clearer and stronger than ever before. Our protests were Earth-shaking. Our cry for justice was soul-stirring. The deep pain we felt for our brother, George Floyd, stopped time as we know it.
We are against police brutality. We are against racism, in all its forms. We are against mass incarceration. We are against racial profiling. We are against economic exploitation. We are clear about what we are against, but how clear are we (really) about what we are for? That is the trillion-dollar question.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an attempt to discourage protests.
Let’s be real. Were it not for the protests, the four officers responsible for the death of George Floyd would have never been arrested. While arrests mean nothing if there are no convictions that follow, we have to acknowledge the power of the strength of our unity in the streets of America.
Minister Farrakhan was once asked if protests were useful.
His reply: “Protesting draws attention. That’s a start. But organizing behind that protest is what changes reality and brings about positive results.”
As the protest stage of Justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others comes to a close, we must now begin to organize like never before. The focus of our efforts must no longer be centered around what we are against. No group of people can obtain their freedom on the defensive. The time is now for the Black man and woman of America to go on the offensive.
If we put more energy into what we are “against” than we put into what we are “for” we will ultimately find ourselves working for what we are against and working against what we are for.
We are not simply against police brutality; we are FOR the organizing, mobilizing and the policing of our own communities, by our own people.
We are not simply against the racist culture in America’s police departments; we are FOR replacing them with our own.
We are not simply against racial discrimination in the workplace; we are FOR building and supporting Black-owned corporations that hire our own and treat us fairly.
We are not simply against “food deserts” in the Black community; we are FOR the purchasing of arable land to grow our own food, to be sold in our own supermarkets and restaurants.
We are not simply against the criminal justice system’s unjust treatment of Black people; we are FOR the creation of conflict resolution centers where we come together to solve our own problems.
We are not simply against the propaganda machine, known as mainstream media; we are FOR the strengthening of Black-owned media outlets, such as the Forward Times Newspaper.
I think you get the picture. No sane person goes to the grocery store with a list of things that they don’t want. We must have a clear agenda and we must make it known that what we want can’t wait!
White America is in apology mode right now. White tears are flowing like the Nile River. Major corporations are writing checks to address “racial equality.” They are trying to purchase our silence. They are looking for a discount on reparations.
This will not work, when what is owed to us eclipses trillions of dollars. The writing is on the wall. Any conversation that does not involve the idea of independence from all systems that have been poisoned by the disease of White Supremacy is a waste of time. Knowing what we are against gives us righteous momentum. Knowing what, organizing around what, and going after what we are for can give us eternal freedom. It’s time to go on the offensive. It’s now or never!