A week ago I was engaged in dialog amongst peers regarding our socio-political responsibility to the community. As we talked, what emerged, threw us for a loop momentarily. It became increasingly clear that Generation X does not respect the Baby Boomer. I shared an experience where an intelligent young brother who was teaching in the Los Angeles Public School district, point blank said too me, “Your generation didn’t do sh_ t!” After I got over the initial shock of how he found it so easy to speak to me in that manner, I said to myself, “just listen let me learn why he thinks as he does.”
I identified the problem. He could not recognize what my generation did because it was different from what he was looking for. Our movement was unique to the circumstances of our moment. Just as his is different than that of the Millennial and ours different than our parents. Still it was hard to accept how he could say that the generation, which birthed the “Black Power Movement had done nothing. The Black Panther Party evolved out of the post Civil Rights aftermath and we took back our identity. We embraced our African heritage and accepted it with pride.
It dawned on me that The Mis-Education of the Negro continues. The message given us by author Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his book originally published in 1933 taught that African Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for themselves”, regardless of what they were taught:
History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.
Here is a quote from the book:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
That has not changed, only the way in which they indoctrinate us. We have come a long way and yet we have not veered very far from the vicious circle around which we evolve. We are quick to judge one another, to criticize, to ridicule, to point fingers, and spew negativity about one another failing to recognize the circle that we are caught up in. We continue until this very day to talk about ourselves as being “like crabs in a barrow,” Lazy and don’t want nothing,” and on and on. Most of us fail to address the conditioning, the conditions and circumstances that have brought us to this state.
The “House” Negro and the “Field” Negro is alive and well as a belief created to drive a wedge between us. This is just one more thing that is part of the rhetoric that stops us from moving forward.
For a young person to say to an elder, “Your generation did nothing to contribute to our advancement,” is a reflection of just how deep the mis-education runs through our psyche.
As long as we continue to participate in negative thinking, negative energy, negative and or destructive behavior we will find our selves going around in circles. If we continue to look outside of ourselves for help we will always need help. Once we get that we are our keeper then we will get that we are our brother’s keeper and what we do, we do for the whole and the well being for all.
We will strengthen our belief in ‘self’ and therefore in ourselves as a collective group and begin to work in tandem with the spirit and move to change those habits and behaviors that keep us enslaved. When we do that then we will experience transformation and move away from all that is not good. We will begin to do for ourselves as we do for our-self.
So what the Baby Boomer did is to step into the dream that ML King saw and what the Freedom Fighters fought for. We stepped into what looked like integration and equality based on the personal and individual integrity of each that made up the collective equally of one people. We are still going through it to get through it.