Thursday, April 15, 2010

We as a People

I just finished watching Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, and I'm feeling rather pensive. Before I go and wipe this mood away with some mindless video game violence, I want to ask all of you, as a people, where did we go wrong?

It never takes me too much to generally disturb my mood or mindset, and get me thinking about something with more depth than I would prefer. As I've told others, I'm always thinking, and I can't stop thinking. Even when I'm trying to lose myself in a game, I'm thinking about something. And I'm thinking after this movie that we have gone horribly wrong.

Do the Right Thing, as Spike Lee will tell you, isn't just about the obvious messages regarding racism and violence, it's about justice, fairness, love, and hate. It preaches the words of both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it does so without being judgmental. If you're not familiar with the film, I recommend you spend a couple of hours watching it via Netflix; it's streamable. Naturally, given that I am a Black American, you'll probably think that I'm talking about the Black community in America when I asked "where did we go wrong?". You'd be mistaken. I mean where did we, as a people, all Americans regardless of race, origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation go wrong?

I told my sister about an unusual sight earlier today. As I was on my way to a grocery store yesterday, I went down Chicago Blvd. here in Detroit, on my way to the Lodge freeway. This isn't so unusual since I've lived in this neighborhood most of my life. But what I discovered yesterday were two young white men jogging down the street. For those of you that don't live here, I suppose I need to back up a bit.

As portrayed in the media, in particular television and movies, there are two Detroits here in Michigan. When they want to show young, hip, urban people from Detroit, they typically show the "white" Detroit. They focus on the sporting events or the concerts, the big businesses like the automakers, and so forth filled mostly by Caucasians. When they want to show the violent side of things, they tend to show the burned out buildings, the vacant lots, and gangs, mostly populated by Blacks. The catch is, in reality the vast majority of the Caucasians live outside of the City of Detroit, and quite a few never set foot within the city limits unless they're passing through, going to work, or one of the aforementioned sporting or musical events. I'm not trying to say that there aren't any Caucasians in Detroit, but it is very fair to say that the population is dominated by Blacks, which can also be found at the same sporting events, concerts, and businesses. Which Detroit you see all depends on how the movie or television producer desires to portray the city.

That said, seeing to Caucasian men jogging down the street in a neighborhood that is disputably predominantly Black, is something of a rarity, especially considering the proximity to Highland Park; a traditional hot spot of danger even for those of us that live in the area. I'm telling you about this, not to state that they're stupid or foolish for being in this neighborhood, nor out of fear of a "White Plan" that involves kicking all of us Blacks out of the city so that the whites can regain power. I'm telling you this because I feel that it's a step in the right direction.

For too long, despite desegregation, Detroit has been divided. The Caucasians kept to their suburbs and looked down on us, and we kept to ourselves talking about how racist all whites were. That's not what Dr. King died for. That's not what even Malcolm X wanted. That's not how a healthy city or country can survive.

We as a people have failed to get past our old fears, our old hatreds, our old prejudices. We as a people have failed to find the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. We as a people as failed to evolve when it was and still is demanded of us. We as a people are dying.

Too long have we let our own foolishness divide us. Too long have we let our petty disputes wound us. If we are to heal and grow, we need to set these archaic things aside, and learn to first be kind to one another, and then eventually respect if not love one another. I know that somethings are too difficult to easily overcome, but who among us has not benefited from the labors of others, regardless of skin color or religion? How can we not remember those that have shown us the way, and how can we ignore or deny the truth before us? We are all God's children, whatever your God's name is, whatever the details of your belief!

We must learn to get along, and how to build our lives together as one people, however different and varied we individually may be, because we are indeed one people.

Find the people that hurt you, and forgive them.
Find the people you've hurt, and apologize.
Find the people you hate, and learn from them.
Find the people you love, and share with them.

I don't normally go in for chain letters and spreading them, but spread this message. We have to stop failing before we can start succeeding. Succeeding isn't easy, it never is, but we have to succeed in this.

No comments:

Post a Comment