While the world looks from the sidelines in amazement, Americans have witnessed the free-falling impact of unbridled divisiveness, xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and jingoism fueled, in part, by a supporting cast of diehard “haters of the other” and their eminent leader, Donald Trump, relentlessly issuing factually-flawed tweets, innocuous and often illogical statements to the press and the nation, a disconcerting diatribe of poorly-conceived policies and positions delivered on a global scale and most apparent, the determination to “Make America Great Again” — a not-so-secret code for rolling back the clock to a time when white (male) privilege served as the law of the land and mantra of the once-dominant society.
As the end of our president’s second year in office comes to a close, women in the #MeToo Movement have issued a collective “roar,” reasserting themselves in their demand to be treated as equal members of society, challenging the status quo with an unprecedented surge of captured opportunities as elected officials and unabashedly refusing to allow frequent occurrences of sexual abuse by men of wealth, power and prestige to go on unchecked — men like Bill Cosby who found themselves castigated by public opinion and brought to their knees in the nation’s courtrooms.
Meanwhile, the White House has suddenly become a disturbingly unfamiliar place — that once long-heralded address on Pennsylvania Avenue whose portals of entry have recently been replaced by unfamiliar revolving doors which welcome a staff more akin to temp agency workers — hired with great fanfare, soon confronted by an inevitable sea change — then shortly thereafter either fired due to their reluctance or refusal to toe the line or cajoled into a formal resignation, again accompanied by a swirling, ominous cloud of equally effusive pomp and circumstance — its postscript tantamount to a deluge of debasing commentary masterminded by one figure alone: #45.
But it hasn’t been all bad. Black America has stood on the brink of securing the governor’s mansion in Florida, Georgia and Maryland for the first time in either of the three states — including near wins by both Stacey Abrams in the Peach State and Andrew Gillum in the Sunshine State. In both cases they have promised, as was so effectively uttered by the “terminator,” “I’ll be back.” And there’s no doubt they will.
Unfortunately, Maryland’s Ben Jealous would find his first effort in politics to fall far short of his goal. But the political landscape before us begs the necessity of Generation X and Z, Xennials, millennials, even baby boomers to join the cavalcade of crusaders who have fought with great resolve in the trenches for justice and claim their own spaces, to exert their muscles and to raise their voices within the context of these “united states,” and with “justice for all.”
Yes, there have been moments worth celebrating. Blacks in the U.S. and abroad were treated to and greeted by a new source of empowerment and affirmation by a superhero named Black Panther featured in the same-titled, blockbuster film that aimed at unpacking the truth behind what it means to be Black in America, in Africa and in the world.
Its two-word salutation of sister and brotherhood, “Wakanda Forever,” has emerged as a beacon in the storm — a sorely-needed, welcome reminder of the sagacity of a sustained spirituality and the power, energy and lifeforce that the Black collective once wielded — Thebes, Timbuktu, Abyssinia and the Songhai Empire — and still bears, forever just within our grasp. That is, if, and when, we put an end to Black-on-Black crime and instead chose to lock arms, forging once-isolated communities and oft-ignored nations of color into one chain too strong to be broken — even at the points of its weakest links.
We have sung songs of lament for seasons whose numbers total far more than we can even recall. We have yielded our power, our brilliance and our resiliency in search of trinkets of silver and gold that the dominant race has led us to believe was the pathway to peace, joy and contentment. But that was not the message on which the ancestors stood — unconquerable souls like Medgar, Harriet, Martin, Frederick, Thurgood, Jackie, Arthur, Althea, Shirley and Sojourner — even fresh, new voices like those of Michelle and Barack.
There’s no reason to cry over the setbacks or newly-hoisted barriers and obstacles that Blacks have witnessed and faced in the past year. We are a people of survivors — our history proves it. And while it may look bleak from time to time, we cannot afford to stop. We have many miles to go before we sleep.
We can ill afford to take our eyes off the prize. And, if we need to rest, we must do so for only a brief respite. After all, we ain’t no ways tired — not yet.
“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.”