Ferguson…My Two Cents

Uh oh…I’m off on another tangent. I hereby issue a warning…this post has nothing to do with the gym so please feel free to close your eyes while reading it! As you know, I’m sometimes moved to pen and post a few lines that are off topic. Tomorrow I’ll post a progress photo…

 

There is a perspective you may not see on TV or in print these days regarding being black and being an American. It’s not the vision advanced by the powers that be. For what reason…I cannot say. I’m currently mulling it over and I have some ideas but I’ll leave the expression of them for another day.

If you haven’t heard it recently, there are plenty of black people who are proud to be American. I am only one of them. I love this country. I’m grateful to God that I had the good fortune to be born here. Over the course of it’s history America has provided greater opportunity for economic (and social) advancement and a higher standard of living to more of its people than any other country on the face of the earth. Is it perfect? No. Has it had dark days? Yes. And even so, it stands out as the best example we have of a country that embraced a philosophy, set forth at it’s inception, that allowed vast numbers of its citizens to enjoy levels of prosperity not seen anywhere else.

Perhaps it will surprise you to know that my father was a physician, my mother was a chemist (when she retired from that work, she went back to school and became an accountant), my aunt was a nurse (then went back to school and became an attorney), one of my uncles was a pediatrician and another one a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. I have countless other relatives who worked as teachers and owners of small businesses. They were all black. They were all born in the 1920s and 1930s.

Not one of them came from privileged families. They were almost all born into poverty…but it was economic, not mental poverty. They were never told they couldn’t make it in the world (except by outsiders) or that they couldn’t advance because of the egregious and deeply injurious injustices of slavery and segregation. They were encouraged in every way possible by their parents and teachers to take advantage of the opportunities they had. They were told and expected to work hard and to grab every chance at education that came by…and they did. It wasn’t easy. It came at great sacrifice. When other, less dedicated students were out having fun and enjoying themselves they sat at home studying and planning for the future. That work and dedication is what eventually moved them out of economic poverty. They believed they could triumph and indeed that belief coupled with diligence bore fruit.

Today I see many people deemed black “leaders” (many of whom enjoy great wealth and hold positions of national power) and white apologists joining a deafening chorus that tells black people in poverty that they have no way out because the system is rigged to prevent their success. The blame is placed at the feet of the rich, of white people, of a political system not created for “them.” The constant repetition of this refrain has taken hold in the minds of those they’re proporting to help. Stripped of the thought that they can be successful, they move through the world dispirited, and mentally impoverished. Hope is drained and people are left unmoored…and angry. These same “leaders” show up when incendiary things happen bringing sympathy but no solutions. They take any chance they get to stoke the fire by telling people that, indeed, things are so unfair and difficult that any reaction (looting, shooting, rioting, throwing molotov cocktails) is understandable. They’ll stop short of actually saying it’s acceptable but any intelligent person reading between the lines feels the undercurrent of support for those actions.

The helpers aren’t helping. They’re so enamored with the narrative that America is marred and that whole groups of people can’t advance that they studiously ignore millions of great success stories like those of my parents, my relatives and their friends.

Nowhere else is there such ripe possibility for moving up and changing fortunes, for those born in poverty, as there is in the United States and yet the story advanced at every turn is one of the impossibility of such progress. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

What we see in the news is the result of the belief that there can be a better future, replaced with rage and self-pity, and therefore the abandonment of dignified behavior. We observe the actions and railings of people who’ve swallowed the poison pill of perceived personal helplessness…and you see disingenuous people from outside the community rushing in to soothe them by telling them they’re right. They only pretend to make the situation better. They give the community reinforcement and support for wrong action with one hand while continuing to steal their belief in the possibility of a brighter future with the other.

Until the dominant narrative changes, nothing in the community will change. In order for people to enjoy success, they have to first believe it’s possible. We need leaders who broadcast that message, who urge people to make decisions that help and don’t hinder their progress and who showcase people who have already blazed a path. We need leaders who love America, and who understand and communicate that the opportunity for prosperity here is better than in any other place on the planet.

 

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13 responses

  1. Wonderful words and thoughts, Doc (hope you don’t mind “Doc” 🙂 )

    There are MANY Americans who see everyone as equal. Truly. “Color” is only in the minds of those who are in the racism industry. Yes, I guess I wrote that. There is an industry based on promoting and maintaining racism – with the rich ones not providing the positive direction as you state. After all, if racism ceases, they lose their revenue stream and most of all, power.

    I also heavily blame the media for some of the good points you bring out. How dare they focus on that one incident in Ferguson (No, I am not condoning it.)? That angered me immensely.

    When my dad, uncles, aunts and cousins were released from the WWII camps, all they had were suitcases. Yet, because of the same values instilled in you by your parents, they made a life for themselves. I hope that drive gets promoted by the leaders you mention. 🙂

    Good blog, Doc.

    1. I don’t mind “Doc” at all…as a matter of fact, I rather like it!

      We think alike in many ways. I know because I read your writing and it resonates with me. I think it’s a shame that the stories of people like your relatives and mine are buried under heaps of negative programming. All those “You can’t make it because of forces outside of your control” messages serve as psychic vampires stealing hope and keeping people dependent (and angry, frustrated, resigned). It’s such a disservice to the community, especially to the children. They’re beaten before they even start…not by real barriers but by ideas implanted by adults in their own circles. In order to move forward, they have to fight on two fronts…the first set up by people who assure them that they can’t do anything good because the cards are so stacked against them and then the second which is just keeping up the focus it takes to reach lofty goals and to fight the REAL obstacles they may run into. It’s an exhausting task with all that piled on their little shoulders…

  2. I think that police violence is a problem. Guns are too often fired in the name of self defence with people that are obviously going to try to be violent.

    1. People in authority who grossly overstep their boundaries are always a concern in a civilized society. The actual facts in this particular case are still to be revealed. My comments were directed specifically at one of the underlying issues at play regarding the reaction to what people think they know and the role of outsiders coming in, who present themselves as healers/helpers/spokespeople for the community. Glad you stopped by to comment. Wishing you a happy Saturday!

  3. Well said!

    1. Thank you so much! Happy Saturday to you. It’s just the most beautiful morning here. I got back from walking the dogs and felt so happy. A little outdoor exercise, some sunshine and blue sky…what a lovely day…

  4. Such a powerful message in deeply troubled times. I know as bloggers who are also lifters we should discuss health, wellness and the like, but there are times when the turmoil of this world cannot be ignored. I pray that Ferguson finds a peaceful resolution in this tragedy. As a Canadian we are not shielded from disrupt, social injustice and youths losing their lives. It begins with leaders coming into communities and showing they care before tragedy strikes.
    Thank-you for sharing your thoughts. Well done.

    1. Thank you so much! I am very concerned about the things I see both inside and outside the US. These are troubling times, indeed. Sometimes I sit down to write about pull-ups or experiences in the gym and something else comes out. It’s nice to have a place to articulate some of those thoughts on occasion….and it helps save my family from constant soapbox speeches from me.

      1. Your family is very lucky to have your speeches 🙂

  5. Can I open my eyes yet? It is ok to have thoughts about topics other than eating right, lifting heavy objects, and calves. Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Rob! Happy Saturday to you. Oh do I have thoughts…lol. My soapbox gets lots of use. I actually write in other places about current events and try to keep on topic here but things seep out and blend together at times. There’s crossover in my thoughts and therefore in my writing too. Luckily, the readers of this particular blog put up with me and my off topic posts. Now…what exercise can I do to increase my calf size? Ha…

    1. Thank you! Happy Saturday over there. Hope you’re enjoying these pretty end-of-summer-days. I just got back from walking the dogs and it’s just a breathtakingly beautiful morning!

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