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America I Am (African American History)

Updated on April 2, 2015

 So truly inspiring.  Powerful.  Wonderful.  Breathe taking.  To see how far our people came in the face of oppression only inspires me to reach higher for my dreams to leave a legacy for my unborn children.  So many achievements by our ancestors which made me so proud and at the same time so sad for this and future generations. 

We went from earning voting rights with our blood


"I don't vote because it won't make a difference."

We went from jumping the broom to signify commitment in times of slavery


A generation of baby momma's and baby daddies

Our family structure went from relying on one another


Acting as if we don't need each other within the household

Many of us have lost our religious roots which were a guideline of right and wrong and how we should structure our life. 


I also had pride in the fact that we can no longer accept nor project the images we now have.  In the past, our women dressed themselves in dignity, respect, and had class.  In the past, our men presented themselves as gentleman and scholars.


We have women walking around half naked, lacking knowledge about anything, wearing fetish shoes who somehow fix their mouths to demand respect from men while dressed like prostitutes.  These same women are also confused as to why a man of quality doesn't want to marry them or start a relationship with them.

We have men who walk around with their pants around their knees (with a belt on), unkempt hair, 50 tattoos all over them like their favorite rap artist, speak broken english and then wonder why they are not employed. 

Our music now doesn't speak of love, relationships, or spending dimes on the phone trying to call the lady they love.  Now our songs talk about dimes, ice, making it rain, etc. Our children are not rooted and often end up in jail trying to get cash without effort or climbing to the top.  Identity fraud, drug dealers, and cleverly disguised prostitutes seems to be the order of the day sometimes. Mom and dad are no longer role models but party friends and buddies to their children.  Two parent households are a thing of the past within our community and children are blatantly suffering for it - check the statistics. Take for instance our households largely comprised of single mothers.  Decline in two parent married households produces: increase in poverty rates, increase in crime, more African-American men in jail or dead, AIDS effecting black women age 25-40 years old, and lower household income then any other race. Thirty to forty years ago these statistics were not the same. Our children are exposed to too much "reality" and chaos instead of stability.

Here's an example of how this relates. This is one scenario and not all so keep that in mind. Lisa grows up in the hood with her mother. Times are hard, mom has a trade doing hair but Lisa's father has never been in her life nor helped financially. Mom is tired, overworked, and embittered by the situation.  Men come in and out of mom's life but no one stays with her mom.  No one ever helps mom financially in her situations but men come, stay for a while, and go.  Lisa grows up thinking she doesn't want to be poor.  Most of the people on the block are drug dealers or hustlers.  They have quick money and Lisa's grown up to have a nice shape as a young 18 year old lady.  Now instead of going to college and "getting in all that debt", she can hang around, go to clubs with a fake i.d. and try to get next to the rappers or dope boys.  So she learns that with a few demands before sex she can get clothes, shopping trips, and expensive purses.  She figures these guys are so into taking her out to eat and spending money on her that she's all set. So what if some of them are rude, beat her up when they get mad, they are just keeping it real.  Why not get high a little off the party drugs they sell.  Maybe get so high that at an after party she doesn't realize how many guys ran through her when she passed out.  But hey she's getting paid. Now her dope boys and rappers are not giving her the time of day anymore in the local scene as they are on to other dime pieces.  Back to momma's house as she's been dismissed and a few months later she realizes she has this cold she can't shake and she's still late on her time of the month. I'll let you draw the conclusion about how that scenario might end but here's the foundation of how that started.

*No father in the house to demonstrate how a man loves and respects his wife, a woman.  No mom to admit where she might have went wrong and set a standard of values and how to respect your body as a lady.  No lessons about things not being important to define who you are.  No example set of how to sacrifice to better your economic condition in the future yourself instead of relying on a man to come rescue you.  A mother who didn't love her daughter enough to care about the path she was headed down.  Poor economic lifestyle makes it difficult to expose your children to better horizons and "the block" for many becomes the reality.  Trickle down effect took place.

We are making strides but then reality hits.  All these rappers with hug silver goblet cups which were once bestowed as gifts to pro slavery supporters makes you wonder. (I learned this for the first time while reading artifacts from the exhibit-still have to do my homework on that because I know they were also used by kings/queens as part of their splendor back in the day)

When I read some of the pledge for African-American men at the million man march, I was touched and blown away.  Although I am not a Farrakhan advocate, the pledged addressed many hidden atrocities within our cultures households: domestic violence, respecting black women and being leaders within our households - beautiful.

Now to all the wonderful men and women who set great examples for their children, love their children, and are active in providing them with a great future------------HATS OFF 2 YOU!

For Women:I listened to a song that offended a lot by 2pac Shakur "That's why we call you a b*tch"  It's sad to listen to lyrics which describe a group of women so accurately. He mentioned scheming after a brothers wealth instead of trying to do something for yourself.  He mentioned how frequently the girl was sleeping with someone else to get paid.  He then mentioned how she caught AIDS and died too soon.  For a man to share how disappointed he was for a black women and how she choose to live her life so trifling and the destruction she caused to herself is like crazy.  A real man with a solid foundation wants you to respect yourself so he can respect you as well.  The first person that has to love you is you.

For Men: We really need you and not for the stereotype of being a sexual being-we have enough of the treasures of your unwanted gifts (AIDS, std's, fatherless children).  I know you are so much more than that.  We need you to have a vision, make good decisions for your household, protect and provide for your queen and your children.  You are smart and brilliant and there are more of you around then presented by the media and I know that.  Each one teach one.  Tall order hugh?  You know what; you can do it!  If you did it hundreds of years ago through oppression, you can soar with ease and do these things with freedom achieved. 

What does it look like?

It looks like the Obama's.  Two intelligent, loving, spiritually grounded individuals. Both brilliant and intelligent people who genuinely love each other so much.  He leads the household and Michelle is a strong supporter.  With the dna, privilege, and society those two girls have the world at their feet.  They both support and believe in uplifting communities to make a better world.

It looks like Dr. Randal Pinkett (first African American Apprentice Winner).  Grounded in religious beliefs allows him to participate in community service initiatives and organizations designed for him to give back.  Married man who welcomed a little girl into this world not too long ago.  This man acquired numerous achievements prior to establishing his family-a choice.  Setting a foundation for his wife and future seed.  Yes we can! We can plan and choose to create a better future for our children.

I could go on and on but I hate to see us trapped in the blame cycle.  For many generations we were taught that we were stupid and inferior and we are not.  People complain that welfare is designed  to eliminate black men from being part of the family.  I disagree.  If a man is in the house then he should be contributing to the welfare of that family, no excuses and no free-loading allowed. 

If I made a million dollars a year my job is not to give you handouts until I am broke.  Don't misunderstand what I am saying - community service is great - but I do not owe you my wealth.  What I can do is share how I achieved my dreams because others might benefit from my knowledge to help provide for themselves and their families.  For example: if you are trying to buy a home and I can help you by telling you about special discounts or no money down programs etc then I will do that because I want to see you succeed as well.  Our culture has to get over division and start helping others just as every other race does now except they do it 10x better than we do.  Light/dark, north/south, educated/uneducated................Just help someone.  It's not going to hurt you. 

We all as individuals need to be responsible for ourselves as well.  If I'm on welfare and continue to have children without doing something to better myself then everyone else in society is not responsible for sponsoring my choices.  Grandparents are not parents!  We have no right to create a baby then dump them full-time on your parents and pretend you are single.  These grandparents can't keep up with these kids like that.  It's evident in the terrors plaguing society right now.  You created them, you raise them!

Choosing your child's environment by your choices.  What am I talking about?  Making $10 an hour, no trade or degree, having unprotected sex and you keep having child after child after child.  Look in your child's eyes and tell them they can be anything they want to be.  That is true, where you grew up does not dictate your future but you sure gave your kids some bad odds in life.  They can be anything if they can make it to school after surviving the gauntlet of gangs, crack addicts, and thugs just to make it there.  Stomach rumblings because they are hungry and can't concentrate in class.  Not participating in music, arts, sports, or field trips because you can't afford to pay for it.  Poor self esteem due to consignment clothes and shoes coupled with hair gone wild.  Their immediate environment filed with broken homes, comfort in non-achievement, teenage pregnancy and crime.  Poor healthcare because you rely on government funding where they might not receive the best attention or medicine for their condition.


Going to college, protecting yourself from std's and pregnancy and focusing on the future. Start your career and aligning yourself with people who are on your same page and focused on accomplishing more.  Spiritually anchored and good values. Date and get married.  Your spouse is also on the same page so you are able to combine wealth and purchase real estate in a good community with a great school system which exposes your children to great education and teaches them to think independently.  Perhaps start a business so you children can understand how to create wealth for oneself.  Throughout their childhood you put money aside in a money market fund so you can finance their education thus freeing them from taking out loans which burden young students with a lot of financial debt.  Family vacations might include China, Jamaica, Hawaii, or Brazil because you have the resources to enjoy those experiences and expose your children to more than their present environment.  These things don't always work out this way but I figure the odds are better on this situation than the first one.

I don't mean to preach but we make choices about our children's future and it has to get better.  God always allows u-turns as well. So let's say you are struggling financially doing the best you can to raise your children- what's wrong with you and your children doing homework together?  You for college and they for grade school.  Show them it's never too late to try and do better.  Heck if I didn't know how to read I wouldn't need to go anywhere, I would just drill my daughter or son, lovingly, when they got home from school till I caught on.  So many ways to reinvent the wheel but it starts with believing in yourself and wanting to do more. It doesn't mean that you think you're better than everyone else, it just means you love and care for yourself, your future, and your children.

Inspired this weekend that we can all be great individuals who can make an impact on the future, even if it is purely by setting an example.  Choosing partnership wisely for it can make or break you.  Still inspired by so many achievements and I know the future will be bright.  I know we have even more great history ahead of us with a little more achievement.


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    • Karen Russell profile image

      Karen Russell 2 years ago