Many blacks feel as though they are misrepresented in the United States of America. We hear it all the time: “Blacks do not get equal representation under the law!” Certainly, it?s a known fact that blacks are misrepresented in government and politics. A predominately Caucasian U.S. Congress, Supreme Court and historically a Caucasian presidency are perfect examples of misrepresentation in U.S. government and politics. We all (blacks) sing the blues about that. Where else are we mis represented?Taking a look at the media, there are local and national news exclusives featured daily across the country in every major U.S. city about the wrongdoings of blacks, particularly black men. Blacks are subject to many forms of defamation of character.
We are shown committing crimes on surveillance cameras. Other than for sports and entertainment, African-American names are not mentioned for greatness, but our names are broadcasted over the news and in the courts for being indicted on serious offenses relating to drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, murder, theft and other heinous crimes. African-Americans are seen on shows like “COPS,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order,” being shackled and bound by police officers. We are “advertised” in humiliation, sometimes without shoes, shirts, pants, bras, et cetera.
Many movies and other media programs demonstrate, blacks as violent drug dealers
drug users, “wife beaters,” or crack cocaine addicted mothers such as Halle Berry in Losing Isaiah. I ask you, what does “White America” think when seeing this on the news? Perhaps they see what any sane individual would expect them to see: “Blacks are evil, blacks are dangerous!” At least, that is the message that comes across.
Right here on campus, I, a black male student, have walked passed the vehicle of some of the Caucasian professors, staff and students and have heard doors automatically lock at the press of a button. One female black student even reached over to lock the door of her 2001 Hyundai Accent as I walkedpass. Why was she afraid ofme? I will never know. I did not even stop to ask. I do have a clue as to why.
Misrepresentation of blacks has certainly been in the hands of non-blacks, but how do we as blacks represent ourselves? We complain about misrepresentation, but yet we purchase music that promotes violence against our own people, violence against Caucasians, violence against gays and violence against women.
The music mentions certain cities such as Brooklyn, “Chi Town,” Compton, L.A., Philly and Detroit. We rap and brag about certain neighborhoods and districts, “da hood” (North Philly, Jamaica Queens, South Central, etc.) and about how much violence occurs.
We tell law enforcement where we are, what we are doing and how much of it we do. Then we wonder why our neighborhoods are poor and crumbling. We wonder why our schools do not match or come close to the level of other non-African-American schools. We idolize the wrong people, places, and things.
The majority of us do not hang up posters of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman “Moses.”
These men and women fought and died for the edification and the exhortation of blacks throughout U.S. history. They fought for civil rights. Harriet Tubman risked being recaptured and beaten to rescue over 200 slaves during the U.S. slavery period. Talk about giving back to your community.
Great politicians, such as Barack Obama, a democrat who was recently elected as a U.S. Senator for Illinois, or Judge Greg Mathis, a democrat who was elected and now serves as a Superior Court Judge for Michigan?s 36 District court in the city of Detroit, are not celebrated as they should be. These men do not sing a flashy tune or sag their pants down to their knees. However, they do represent “BLACK AMERICA.”
Judge Mathis and his wife founded YAAT, Young Adults Asserting Themselves Inc., a Detroit-based organization dedicated to promoting positive youth development, creating communities and strengthening families. Does T.I. or Ludacris give money back to their communities? Perhaps.
Many blacks have made positive contributions to communities. Jill Scott, an elegant black celebrity, soloist, poet and activist from Philadelphia, writes and sings beautiful songs of hope and unity targeted towards blacks.
Her lyrics are not explicit. They contain no violent or any sexually destructive messages. Her music is played and enjoyed by the young, the old, “black,” “white,” or whomever enjoys listening to positive” music. She simply teaches us to “live our life like its golden.”
Who or what influences you? What inspires “Black America”? What motivates us to be positive and perform as progressive and productive members of U.S. society? Many of us on campus belong to various campus organizations. Ask yourself why you belong to your organization.
Does your organization represent you? Does your organization stand up in your defense? Does your organization include you in a positive manner? Or does it simply exist? What about us as individuals? How do we represent ourselves? When was the last time you went and read books to children in a literacy clinic? When was the last time you, as an black man, opened the door for a woman? When was the last time you visited a sick child in the hospital? When was the last time you told another black something positive about themselves?
Who or what do you represent? If you are destructive or negative in any way, let it be known that you do not represent “BLACK AMERICA.”
I do not mean to target anyone. I do not mean to come across as being cynical. I do hope that this article has opened the eyes of not only blacks, but people of all races, colors, creeds, ethnicities and genders. We are on this Earth together. In order to live in harmony, we must RESPECT and honor one another. The United States is a body that should function as a whole. The head cannot tell the leg that it is less important and less honored than itself, or it will never function.
When we (blacks) begin to respect, celebrate and honor the proper individuals who edify and exhort us, then we will find our struggle in America less taxing. When we properly represent ourselves, then we will find that the ability ofothers to misrepresent us will become a bit more challenging. Until then, there is more misrepresentation to come. When will we get it together? When will it end? Properly represent yourself!
Michael-de?Shawn J. Sells is a junior majoring in liberal studies.