*Sometimes the greatest step forward is made while looking back.
In America, Black people imagine that they have made progress.
The truth is that in many ways, we have gone backwards, but not on purpose. We have gone back to a place in time that was dark indeed, and if we are to go backwards, we should at lest go back to a place and time that made sense for us and take some things with us.
Our problem is that we are going in circles seemingly without direction, in desperate need of a new and consistent direction. The best one that we could embrace is the one that existed previously. We should simply revisit the actions, state of mind and state of community that brought us through slavery, Jim Crow and a revolution that should still be moving.
We should go back in order to carve out the best possible future.
Our shining Black future should be to reverse integration, so that we can once again accustom ourselves to living with each other. When we begin to reverse integration, we must return to our communities with renewed and focused political power resulting in more police protection (from a police force which reflects the community); more services (schools, after-school programs, parks, street re-paving, etc.); and more self-sustaining commerce (Black-owned businesses supported by the community, while supporting the community).
A new future for Black America would be to discuss forward movement for all of us—not just the rich, not just the males or just the females and not just the famous, but ALL of us.
Our future should follow groups such as the Jews, making a commitment to our own preservation as a group, not to individuals we hope will become “leaders.”
No more “window dressing.” We can no longer be satisfied with a Black face at the front door, or even the sole dark face in the CEO’s office. One of us can show up and attempt to assimilate, but having one dark face in the company has failed to open the door for others.
Our new future should be about getting our own, as opposed to building the commerce of others who sell us shiny things. Yes, shiny things. Blacks get five dollars and spend four on a truck, some cheap jewelry and some “nice clothes.”
The late Black publisher, John H. Sengstacke said “If we take care of our community first, the community will take care of us.”
Our future should be to follow Magic Johnson into urban America, rebuilding our commerce. Prior to integration, we had our own commerce, which sustained generations.
In addition to Black-owned businesses, we must return our services to the community. Our doctors understand our particular health issues and our lawyers understand our particular legal issues. Dentists, contractors, car dealers and hardware stores are vital parts of our commerce and they need to be in our communities, serving us and being supported by us intentionally.
Part of taking back our commerce means following the lead of people like Will Smith, in controlling our own music and film. We will no longer have to worry about our image in front of the world in entertainment, if we are making the movies and television shows and controlling the music.
We have to also take part in our own sports ventures. Who cares if Kobe and LeBron make millions, if they are still high-priced slaves?
Our return to Black commerce can only be achieved when we return to living next door to each other, socializing with each other and talking to each other about the issues we face in common, so that we can work together toward resolution.
We must focus on us as a people who survived the horrors of the years and still know how to party, look good and work hard. We must party, look good and work together for our coming generations.
Our future must involve us loving each other again. It must involve us showing up to be seen and to see what is going on in our own communities. Black women will stop saying that there are no good Black men when we return to community events, where Black men and Black women can find each other.
For Black women who complain about not being able to find a man on their level, the Black future should be about working together to build, as opposed to looking for someone who can afford to vacation with us. If you have twelve and I have eight, I am not beneath you, I am with you and we now have twenty. That’s empowerment and community building.
Black men have to stand up for the women and children in the community who need the presence and influence of men.
Yes, there are single parents, but at what point in time were there not? Our future must focus on our emerging adults, because for nearly two generations, we have focused on grown folks, while ignoring the diminishing conditions of our youth. Mentoring must be the order of the day for those of us without children, so that single parent households can still provide nurturing from male and female adults to foster healthy young men and women.
Our Black future should involve rebuilding the schools in our communities, instead of fleeing those schools to take our brainpower and our dollars to other communities. No vouchers for private schools, but a commitment to chastise local government to improve educational facilities in our own communities until they adequately prepare our children for college.
We can rebuild our schools and other services for our community when we become politically active in ways beyond party allegiances. We must make demands based on what we need and deliver our support to the party or candidates who make intrinsic overtures to us.
But first, we need to re-unify ourselves. Any future for African Americans must include changing our minds about each other, to paraphrase Malcolm X.
We must return to the t-shirts with powerful messages of “Black Is Beautiful,” “I Love Being Black,” and “Black Power.” They never should have gone out of style. While wearing those t-shirts, we have to re-embrace the things that are truly beautiful about us.
Our Black future must include real braintrusts, where our best minds meet to discuss the issues and deliver recommendations to the masses.
The Black future I’ve outlined here is not from some wistful dream conjured and ensconced in my head. This future state of existence is from a real Black America prior to integration.
The future of which I speak is directly from our past.
Yes, I am advocating re-integration.
The best part of integration can not be taken away, especially if we recollect ourselves. That part includes the right to eat, walk and live anywhere and the right to be left the hell alone. We now have to build upon the movement that halted at the end of the Sixties.
We need a Black future. To find the best one, we have only to go “Blackwards.”
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opens in Los Angeles this Spring. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected].