How many times do we have to hear the proverbial, "I told you so," or "I'm not surprised" comments, before Black folks realize that the original laws and systems of the United States of America weren't built or designed for them?
Think about it and let's be real. Regardless of whether we pledge allegiance to the flag, fight for our country or claim to be proud Americans, the truth of the matter remains, this country was not originally founded with Black folks in mind or on equal footing.
Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution originally read, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
Did you get that? Black folks were considered three-fifths of a person for economic and tax reasons from the jump. Although we've had amendments added to it over time, even the Constitution of the United States was written with White males, not Black folks, in mind.
It's sorta like a business plan. A business plan can always be modified to incorporate new ideas or reshape the original goals and objectives of a business. As it relates to the business of running this start-up country, Black people were not a part of the original business plan. However, as a result of the efforts of abolitionists, Black folks eventually became a part of the business plan discussion for America.
You do know though, whenever business partners don't agree with new ideas or changes to the business, it usually leads to internal turmoil and a lack of progress on the improvised plan. With the help of abolitionists and many conscience-minded White people, the business plan was forced to be revised, causing Black folks to be thrust into the business of being an equal American citizen along with the internal turmoil that ensued.
For those of us who choose to embrace Black history, we've all heard about slavery and about the egregious acts that impacted Black people. Those acts were a part of the original business plan for Blacks in America. In today's "post-racial society," Black folks have somehow been lulled to sleep and have forgotten that less than 50 years ago the business plan of America did not include us. The Emancipation Proclamation gave Black slaves a sense of hope, but it didn't stop racism. The Civil Right Act gave Black folks a sense of hope, but it didn't stop racism.
Integration, however, gave Black folks a false sense of equality and entitlement. Integration gave Black folks a newfound sense of power, whereby they believed they were equal to White people, because the law said it.
The journey of Black folks in America reminds me so much of the Prodigal Son story in the Bible. According to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15:11-32), the youngest son of a father demands that he be given his promised inheritance immediately, so that he could go out and experience the world. The father gives it to the younger son, but he eventually squanders it all on wasteful and extravagant living. After he loses all of his inheritance, the prodigal son goes hungry during a famine and hits rock-bottom. He eventually comes to his senses and realizes that his life was so much better when he was at home with his family. He returns home and apologizes for leaving, where instead of being angry the father holds a big feast to celebrate his return. The older son initially refuses to participate, stating that in all the time the son has worked for the father, he did not even give him a goat to celebrate with his friends. The father reminds the older son that everything the father has belongs to him, but that they should still celebrate the return of his younger brother because he came back home to them.
To make it simple, Black folks decided to cash in on their newfound inheritance and abandoned the villages that gave them strength. They chose to abandon a community that sacrificed and worked so hard to provide them with the very inheritance they began to take advantage of. Because many Black folks believed that “Mr. Charlie’s ice was colder,” they chose to move to the suburbs and study at the finest colleges, hoping to show their equality. Many Black folks began shopping and eating at places they previously couldn't, hoping to show their equality.
In reality, however, that equality only existed on paper. Like the prodigal son eventually realized, it's time for Black folks to come to our senses and remember what brought us this great inheritance of freedom and liberty in this country. We must come back to our foundational roots in order to advance our cause on a collective basis. We must come to our senses and realize that what we are doing isn’t working and unless things change, we will find ourselves in an even worse position.
The Trayvon Martin shooting has taken the Band-Aid off of an old wound that has never been cured in America. That old wound is racism.
Back in the day, when Black folks were lynched and abused by their oppressors, many non-Black observers would stand by and watch, saying nothing and doing nothing to stop it. Their silence “was” worse. Now that George Zimmerman has legally gotten away with the murder of this innocent young teenager, many non-Black observers are applauding his “not guilty” verdict and are standing by and watching, saying nothing and doing nothing to stop it. Their silence “is” worse.
But we don’t have to sit by and wait for change; we can demand change by our actions and our choice to come together in unity once again. There are ways we can do it and steps we can take. We must first, recognize that the business plan of America needs to be revised once again and we are the only ones that can make sure that those revisions are in line with our vision for our future.
Listen “Black folks, it’s time to come back home” and we need to do it right away before it’s too late.