MLK Day 2020: Defining the Next Narrative for Black America

“Freedom is experienced as deliberation, decision and responsibility.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s time for black leaders to end our Stepin Fetchit approach to racial equity. Overemphasizing our failings has unified friend and foe in defining black people by poverty, pathology, and problems. While we’ll never ignore those conditions, they have never defined us.

The next narrative for black America must more accurately define us by our aspirations and contributions before noting our challenges so that our fundamental importance to the world is properly understood.

Fact is, Black America has championed “liberty and justice for all” even more than the Founding Fathers. I recognize the audacity of my statement, but America must reconcile this truth in order to commission black people’s centrality to the very concept of “free society” here.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

These are great words by great men, said Frederick Douglass. Yes, their “ALL” was all white able-bodied heterosexual male landowners. Perhaps that’s why doing the bidding of that small minority group is still so easily disguised as patriotism today. But it is not.

True patriotism is faithfully standing, or kneeling, for the soul of a nation and holding it true to its highest aspirations. That’s what black people have done in America since before this country had a name, and we still do.

A 2019 BMe Community poll of black leaders captured their unwavering belief in their own cultural, economic and political abilities and in the credo of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But does America believe in its people’s inalienable rights as much as black people do?

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