Dr.King speaks a lot of unity, not just between African Americans but all ethnicities. Change can only happen if we stand united and support each other. Dr.King’s words are empowering and hopeful. He believed to his core that change could happen. The concept is good, but I see no end to the plight of the African American. How can change come when things seem to be on the decline? We are as divided as ever, the government is in shambles. America is a laughing stock. So what do we do, as black people? Some create movements, that in my opinion is not changing anything. While others look out for only themselves because they have learned through society that you can only look out for yourself. And the other live the only way they know how. We drift through life tolerant of injustice. We have become jaded, and stagnant. Our very mindset is ‘every man for themselves’. We are born fighting against the feeling of knowing there is nothing better out there for us. The best we can expect is a decent job and to not die tragically somehow. The black community is divided, families are broken. Compared to other cultures we are still at the bottom, not even trying to rise as a people. The Arabs and Jews family and community, they support each other. They have learned through their struggle that staying together will build their empire. So why are we still stuck? What is our excuse? Systematic Racism?
We have the power to influence the world, the white people take Ideas from us. They rob us of our power, or do we relinquish it to them?It’s a cycle at work that’s origins go so far back that it has been rooted so deeply that it is the foundation of which we have built ourselves on. Our mindset is not geared towards seeing the bigger picture. Can you blame us though?
As children we are dreamers, we tell ourselves that we will be different than the rest of society. But what if your chances are taken away? You throw your aspirations away and become content to live like everyone else. Areas of living for the urban population have become dilapidated. People are living from check to check. Selling drugs. Repping ‘Gang Gang’. There is a veil over our eyes, to seek a lifestyle the amounts to violence and degradation. This mindset has already infiltrated and infected the next generation. So when will it stop? I do not believe that I will live to see it in my lifetime. So I have become one of the others, you leave the rest behind who are struggling, who are blind, in hopes that I can leave it all behind me and never look back, through whatever means necessary. I will not stand united with my fellow African Americans, I am the effect and the cause. I am the result of someone who has seen and heard so much injustice that I have come to realize that there nothing I can do with it. My mindset of helplessness is the problem. I am the cycle. I will say that wholeheartedly. I believe we are too far gone.But perhaps there is a way to make a change. To take back our power we must become powerful. We must compete on the same level as white people do, in business, in government. We must make our presence known. But tendrils of doubt always grip my mind because of today’s generation, for blacks and white. Our priorities are not aligned with the mindset of success for ourselves.
Feelings of indignation burn when provoked and forced to think about our race through another tragic event. We feel it in our souls. There are people who will always be in power because we are weak and powerless. The tenuous grip we still have on power is being pried apart by those with the means to take it. It’s more than just a concept, it resonates in our souls and lifestyle. I have no wise words to offer.
Peace, the focal point of Dr. Kings book. Non-violence is a concept that may seem pretty easy to grasp, a concept well justified within the text. But it is a concept that does not seem to sit well within the depths of my soul and spirit. Peace, is a perfect illusion, violence, is a necessary evil. For years the African American community attempted to properly talk with our fellow man, White people in a peaceful manner. The whole time we have been served with injustice whether it be blatant discrimination or outrageous murders of African Americans by police officers like Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trevon Martin and a multitude of more, unfortunately. I for one would love to live in a world where we can all sing Kumbaya and hold hands around the fire happy and peaceful, but that is not the reality of America’s situation and that is not the world we live in. When we practice peace it is supposed to show that we are the bigger men, but then does the bigger man begin to win? How much longer do we have to fight with words and not violence to finally be heard if it is evident that those words are just falling on deaf ears. Now I am not saying be violent with guns blazing, but as a community, we obviously must take a more forceful approach to see any progress. Remember America was not a nation found/built on peace and non-violence. This land is drenched in the blood of Native Americans and African slaves. Malcolm X said it best “The only people who are asked to be non-violent in this country are black people” Sometimes to create change radicalism is imperative if one wants to reach a goal.
At this point in the text, Ifemelu is analyzing how Americanahs who move back to Lagos view their home country. Many of them often have nothing nice to say, but pick out every imperfection within their home country. This is simply because they have adapted to American culture and society that anything other than America seems “wrong”. Luckily Ifemelu states that she is self- aware of this hypocrisy but she cannot help but point out every flaw. In my opinion, it seems to be a very conflicting way to view and live life. As Ifemelu states many come home wanting to make their home country better with businesses and new ideas. This reminds me of a concept discussed in Theory of Knowledge. What is it with people always wanting to change other societies. I often think of the quote “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”. Now granted there may be a multitude of problems with Lagos or other developing countries in general. But one should not be able to force their ideals and values upon others if everyone else is content. I will end with what Ifemelu said, “get over yourselves and realize that the way of life here is just that, assorted“. You cannot go through life fixing other people and things to fit your perception of “perfect”
laIfemelu makes a post about the women in Lagos and they magically can afford expensive things even though their lifestyle clearly can not afford it. Ifemelus post suggests that the women of Lagos use men to help pave their wave, they become dependent on what a man can give them. They become so dependent that they lose themselves in that person. She says “crippled by their culture of dependency”, which suggest that in that culture it is quite common and you are taught that you can use your body and get something in return, you are taught that you need a man with cash to survive. This is worrisome because what becomes of those women when that source of income decides to leave? You are left with nothing, you do not know how to make it on your on. On to the next man right? Desperation. Desperation and fear make people do stupid things, sacrifice happiness for security. No one wants to live the poor life, the lonely life. That is understandable, the problem is how you go about it. Of course, it is easy for me to talk because I have not yet had the unfortunate feeling of literally needing someone to survive, but does that make my words and Ifemelus words any less true? I may not be from that culture but we can all recognize relationships that are not built on the purity of love but the give and take. It is so easy to fall into that mentality society has conditioned one to believe, when you can not make it on your own, you fall back onto what you are used to. So what is one to do? How can we fix this problem? Is it even possible to fix this?
Ifemelu makes a very detailed well thought out post on what Non-Black Americans should and should not do or say when it comes to speaking to Black Americans. Many other POC just like Whites often make the same ignorant remarks. “It’s not really race, it’s class”. Like Ifem says, trust and believe us Black folk really don’t want things to be about race, but it unfortunately is. We would certainly love to sing Kumbaya with everyone while holding hands, but that just isn’t the case. Racism is very prominent and if you cannot see that then it is time to take off your patriotic goggles and recognize the problem. Ifemelu speaks on the struggle of all people. Just because your people struggled (Mexicans, Italians, Irish) does not mean you can discredit the American Black struggle because there has always been a hierarchy. White people have at one point in time mistreated all of us (I guess it’s just in their blood I don’t know), but the struggle for Black Americans is still real. Ifemelus post suggests that in America when you are black you take on the baggage of Jim Crow, slavery, discrimination from the 1960s (which was only 50+ years ago,) and much much more. Lastly, please stop saying “Black people are racist too” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard annoying, White people especially say this exact phrase. As stated in her post all people can be prejudice, but Black people do not have the power to express racism. This post can go on and on forever, but the point of Ifems statement is to say… try listening for a change. Please do not be so quick to get defensive. When there is something you do not understand ask questions, read a book, become educated. When you become educated that means there is one less ignorant person in the world ignoring the problem.
Ifemelu talks about how this professor was stopped by the police because they thought he had drugs. They racially profiled him because he was black. He is an Ivy League Professor, but did that matter? No. Point is, there is a notion that you are supposed to look a certain way to be something. No one would think this black guy is actually an Ivy League Professor since he did not look the part, meaning he was black. He is not good enough to look like an Ivy League professor but he does fit the profile of a person on drugs. Ifemelu then talks about how her baby pushed himself to do well in school just to prove a white teacher wrong. The statement the teacher made suggest that certain races are good at certain things and lack the ability to do other things. In this case, black people are supposed to be athletic, and whites are supposed to be to the intellectual, there is nothing bad about it, it is as natural as gravity. There were already prospective notions made from the day you were born. These two events mean that based on how you look or who you are, you are expected to act a certain way. Ifemelu said she could not identify with wanting to do well to prove a point. Ifemelu is from Nigerian, does that have some significance in why she can not identify with this? Is it a cultural thing? I think it means that because she is from a place full of people that look like her, there was no need to prove yourself to a different race.
Based on the life I lead I can most certainly relate to wanting to prove white people wrong and wanting to eradicate certain notion made about us made. I want to represent the smart black women, not the one going outside wearing a scarf on their head with flip flops and see through leggings. I want to not be embarrassed around white people when I see black people acting a fool. I want to not fit the profile. Perhaps I can if you get to know me, but what about the people that make snap judgments of me purely because of my race? Is there a way to really change that? For one, television can stop portraying black people in a negative light, such as on the news, reality television shows. Another big thing that needs to change is rap music. You know the kind I am talking about. There is so much that needs to change from within our own culture before we can even think about changing someone else mind.
Ifemelu makes a post about a friend of a friend making a book about traveling while black. The premise behind this is that there are guidebooks for all types of things, even being gay or a woman in the country, but what they neglect to mention is what it is like to travel while black. Not just any black, though, recognizably black, which means that despite what you are mixed with, someone can look at you and automatically assume you are black. The man Ifemelu is quoting then goes on to explain the different places the receive you as being recognizably black. Everywhere they seem to look at you as if you are different, not all of it is filled with malice, but nevertheless, they still look. The suggestion is that across some places of the world there is a race problem, or race continues to take the forefront in cultures. Not every place is as severe as the next but race plays a role in how people will perceive you. I agree with what the man Ifemelu is quoting is saying because even before her post, prior knowledge tells me that race is an issue, even in countries that contain majority black people. There always seems to be levels to race, in Latin America, there is a racial caste system, much like in America and guess what? The Negro is at the bottom. A statement was made that I did not quite understand, it was the suggestion that “Native blacks are always treated worse than Non-Native Blacks everywhere in the world,” I have never heard this claim before and I tried looking it up, but no such luck. If you could answer this for me to bring me clarity it would be appreciated.