This is Me

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope, Simply Put

When you keep a group of people ignorant and illiterate, you make them reliant on you, like children are reliant on adults.

Slaves were not allowed to learn how to read for a number of reasons.

The obvious reason is to keep them dependent on their slaveholders and less likely to run away.

A second and not well-known reason is to keep them from knowing about each other. When slave revolts occurred, newspapers didn't write about them for fear that a slave who could read would learn about it and be moved to start his own revolt. 

Slaveholders also kept slaves dependent by selling family. By taking away parents, children, aunts and uncles, they took away hope and the willingness to leave. If a person has people around for support, he or she is more likely to follow the leader moreso than being a leader himself.

Controlling their entire lives - when and what they ate, where they could sleep, who they were allowed to marry - meant they controlled how slaves saw themselves.

Slaveholders did a good job of breaking spirits so a person with dark skin wouldn't even have the audacity to hope.


My friends and I have always commended Essence and Ebony Magazines for highlighting persons of color who were leaders: CEOs, entrepreneurs and the like, but we always felt they were preaching to the choir.

People who need encouragement, who need to read about successful Black business owners are people who don't have subscriptions to magazines but who do have television and radio.

The emergence of television and radio, as well who owns it, means that the only successful African-Americans seen or heard are athletes and rappers, portraying the message that if you can't play ball or spit lyrics, you have no hope of success. 

By controlling the media - what stories were written, what images were shown on TV - "they" controlled how Black people saw themselves.

People can try to convince you that you can do anything you put your mind to, but if you don't SEE it, it's hard to believe it. If your spirit is broken by your surroundings - where everyone around you says you CAN'T - you tend to believe your environment.

Until today.

Barack Obama, as our 44th president, doesn't have to do anything else but stand still. The mere fact that he was ELECTED as the leader of this country is enough to SHOW African-American youth that you can do anything you want to do and have them believe it.

Just looking at him gives people enough hope to believe in the impossible, regardless of what others say. Now when our boys and girls are told they can't, they can turn on the TV and see that yes, we can.