What does it fully mean to be a black man in America?
I wake up every day and face the reality that I am a black man. Things aren’t easy for me and I will even admit that I haven’t done a lot to help my situation but I often wonder if there’s anything that I can do to make my situation better in America today.
Living in a country that preaches and professes opportunity, equality, and justice offers me just enough comfort to set myself up for failure since we all know that the justice system isn’t set up for people like me. I work in a world of academia and it’s disheartening when I try to teach kids about the greatness of our country and the opportunities they have due to the struggles that our forefathers endured. When teaching these things, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking that the young black children in the class can see right through me and know that the American Dream I am speaking of doesn’t pertain to them.
Society wears blindfolds like a racehorse when issues of race are prevalent. They sit on their hands and watch atrocities and racial injustice simply because it’s not relevant to them, or because they aren’t willing to ostracize themselves in their own communities. How ironic is that though considering that they are afraid to face what we face but aren’t willing to help do anything about the situation?
Being black hasn’t afforded me a lot of great things in life. I have to balance who I am and what I do in all situations. One of the best movies that no one ever talks about is a Spike Lee great “Bamboozled.” If you have seen the movie, then you know that sometimes people get conflicted by the results of what they have to do if they want the ultimate success. It’s easy for people to say what they would do in a situation but the reality is we all find a way to stay in our little box and hold it all in to obtain our success. Then when we achieve our successes, we aren’t going to do much to jeopardize what we’ve built for ourselves.
I recently heard someone talking about Cam Newton. I myself love him as a player and loved him even more because he would say things that made people uncomfortable but it was who he was. In an effort to improve how people viewed him, the Carolina Panthers decided to bring in a “race coach” to help guide Cam on issues that he might be asked questions on. At first glance you would ask yourself why a person who is as influential as Cam would need someone to help him answer these questions and why would he even agree to do it?
Ironically Cam just signed an amazing 118 million dollar deal. It has a lot of clauses in it but it also has a lot of guaranteed money that isn’t fully guaranteed if he doesn’t meet certain standards. Put yourself in his shoes. Do you jeopardize earning that type of money by being who you are or do you “play ball,” collect the money, and feel conflicted along the way? (like the character in Bamboozled)
Cam has to be thinking that he saw the only player ever to sign two 100 million dollar contracts (Michael Vick) end up almost broke because he decided to do it his way. So how does one deal when the only way they can reach the pinnacle is to “shuck and jive?”
Black men shouldn’t have to do a song and dance when they reach the top. They shouldn’t get hit with absurd questions and shouldn’t be forced to make irrational decisions. They shouldn’t get shot during police stops by cops when they are clearly following commands and laws. They shouldn’t have to be one person at work and another person at home. They shouldn’t have to change their tone or worry that everything they do is going to be held against them.
I struggle every day with the loss of life and the injustices that I see and hope that I can make it to another day.