Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moving Forward or Backwards?

    As Black History Month 2013 comes to an end I reflect on how far the United States has come in the area of race relations.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the nine African-American students known as Little Rock Nine and many other pioneers of the Civil rights movement, risked their lives, spent time in jail and endured brutal beatings in their fight for equal rights for all mankind.  More than half a century later, our first African-American president, President Barack Obama, is serving his second term in office.  Additionally, we celebrate Rosa Parks, a seamstress that helped ignite the Civil Rights movement by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Alabama.  Her refusal to give up her seat, lead to the Montgomery bus boycott.  This month, Parks becomes the first black woman to be honored with a life-sized statue on Capitol Hill.

     There’s no doubt we have made great strides and that deserves to be celebrated.  However, I can’t help but think that we have moved forward just to move backwards when I hear about rapper, Lil’ Wayne making offensive lyrics about Emmett Till.  You ask who is Emmett Till?  He was a 14 year old African-American from Chicago, IL.  In 1955 while visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, Till was accused of flirting with a white woman in a grocery store. Days later, Till was kidnapped by two white men, brutally beat and shot in the face which lead to his death. Till’s mother chose to have an open casket so that mourners could see her son’s disfigured face.  Till’s brutal murder and open casket electrified the emerging civil rights movement.

     Now, I see several problems with Lil’ Wayne’s actions.  The one that keeps coming back to me every time I hear of his ridiculous antics is the fact that if it were not for the life of Emmett Till along with so many others and their sacrifices, Lil’ Wayne would not be where he is today.  The sad irony is that Lil’Wayne is one of many people who have no idea about their history and the pain and sacrifice that affords them the life they live.  I could go on about the negative effects of not knowing our history but that’s a blog post for another day.  The fact is, this type of behavior by anyone is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.

     We must continue to celebrate our success but in order to move forward we must hold one another accountable.  There are some people that will buy Lil’ Wayne’s music in spite of his ignorant, inflammatory lyrics. This is moving backwards. I realize Lil’ Wayne is not the only one that does these things. The fact is, this type of behavior by anyone is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.  When we support anyone, regardless of their race, that goes against what is right and what we believe in, we support them and their stance.  In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

     Until next time, I hope you have been encouraged, empowered, enriched and enlightened.

Peace and blessings,


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