I've been a Black man in American for 46 years now, and needless to say, I have been a part of, seen and heard many conversations about what is wrong with the black community and how to fix it. The answers, and opinions range from the practical to the down right bizarre. But the one thing that the participants of such dialogues, monologues, or diatribes can all agree on is the fact that there is definitely something wrong in and perhaps even with our community. There has often been talk about who the enemy is, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that there are many. Everything from cultural conditioning, to the police, to economics, high blood pressure and of course white people who perpetuate, and knowingly participate in a racist system designed to oppress those of us who are not white. But as far as I am concerned, none of these things are our worst enemy. The number one enemy of the black community is complacency.
Complacency is defined as: a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.
Let me be clear. Many of us try and succeed and many us don't because we buy into a culture of defeat, and marginalization. This is why we relegate ourselves to low paying jobs, this is why we condemn ourselves to live in projects surviving in the shadows without actually living, and this is why some of us spend so much time in jail that it becomes a second home. I have no doubt that someone will read this and suggest that there are other factors that contribute to the plight of black people in this country like tougher sentencing laws, economic disparities, and flat out racism which is not only as American as apple pie, but is so ingrained within the fabric of the flag itself that a slave was forced to sew the original by hand. There are certain things that are just not up for debate. It is what it is. But unlike our enslaved African ancestors, there is nothing that is impossible for us unless we actually believe that it is. Maybe you've had a low paying job for years. If you truly believe that working at King Burger is the best that you can do or could do, that thought process will manifest itself into inaction because you have convinced yourself that you are not worth more more than minimum wage so why try. Maybe you're a third generation project dweller who has become accustomed to paying low rent in a place that you will never own because you feel like the bank will never "give" you a house. Guess what?! The bank will definitely never give you a house because you didn't try, and you're content with not trying. Don't get me wrong. Effort is not easy. That is one of the reasons why it's called effort. It requires that you do something more than live at someone else's mercy. For example. If you don't have a skill that makes you valuable in the workforce, you're at someone else's mercy because the skills that are required on most low paying jobs are a dime a dozen. If you don't put yourself in a position in which you cannot qualify for a home loan, when gentrification comes to your neighborhood you're at someone else's mercy. We can discuss disenfranchisement, displacement, and many other issues. But you must ask yourself if you are doing yourself a dis-service by "resting" on these issues. Succeeding in our community is only an anomaly if be believe that success is the exception instead of the rule. As individuals we must decide at some point that we will position ourselves to triumph despite what we see, and despite what we acknowledge .
There is nothing wrong with being down. But there is everything wrong with staying down.