Tuesday, February 9, 2016

AFRICAN-AMERICANISM


Yea, I gotta go there, I thought to myself! I was sittin’ on my front porch today minding my business when  “The Mayor” came by to complain about something happening at the youth center.
“We African-Americans have to stick together Nettie. You know how the Hispanics and the White people are always trying to get over on us. That boy got suspended just because he called a white girl a bitch!”
“What do you mean African-Americans got to stick together. When we die is their an African-American section in hell and an African-American section in heaven?” I asked
“Come on Nettie you always ask that dumb question, you know what I mean. We gotta look out for one another. They always trying to kill us and keep us down.” He stated.
“Oh you mean like them putting abortion clinics in poor Black communities and making sure that Black women have access to places where they can kill their “African-American” babies. Or are you talking about how young Black men kill other young Black men in broad day light and not a single “African-American” saw what happened. Is this what you are talking about when African-Americans have to stick together Roger? They should not tell the truth about each other and ignore each others faults?” Roger is his real name.
“I am not trying to get political Nettie. I am just telling you what happened today. I just came by to say hey!”
“Oh, I see now. I am so sorry I misunderstood you Roger. You came by to tell me about how a young man was busy studying and just so happened to see a girl, who happened to be a different color than he was, and lovingly called her something other than her name and they suspended him.”
“It is not that simple.”
“I am sure it is not. I mean: How dare that white girl get near an African-American! I mean why are they even going to the same school.”
“You keep twisting my words!” he said angrily.
“I am not twisting anything,” I had enough so I cut him off and let him have it! “First of all if the boy was suspended it was probably for more than him calling the girl a name. Second, I am getting really tired of you and all these other so called African-Americans coming to my porch complaining about everybody but themselves. You spend more time gossiping and complaining than you do reading and helping.
“If you are so concerned about what is happening with these African-American boys why don’t you mentor them and get them to go to school and learn something. Why don’t you tell these African-American boys to stop calling females bitches period and to pull their pants up.
“If you are so concerned” I paused briefly to quickly read his body language, I knew he was about ready to bolt; I continued. “about what is happening in the African-American community and you seem to have soooooo much free time, why don’t you start teaching these parents about money and parenting; why don’t you go into these subsidized housing communities and get those people to start cleaning up their neighborhood and insisting that they be the ones to tell the police where the thugs live, even if they are related to them.
“The problem you and your African-American friends have, Mayor, is not that White people or Hispanics are not treating you fairly it is that you all don’t treat each other fairly. Before we became African-American, back when we were “colored” we respected our elders, valued education and parents whacked the backsides of disobedient children.”
“You act like you ashamed to be African-American.”
“No, I love who I am. I love my dark skin pigment, my nappy hair, my big behind, my lips, my nose and even the slang words that come out of my mouth from time to time. I am not ashamed of who I am but I am embarrassed by the way some people of color behave. I do get tired of people judging me because my Pastor is not Black and he teaches the word without shouting;  I can shout with the best of them Roger but that don’t make me anymore a Christian than the dirt I was made from. The difference with me is I love my God more than I love the external factors of my life.
“I know that their are prejudice people out there; I know that racism exist. I also know that ignorance comes in all shapes, sizes, income brackets, religions, skin pigment and it speaks in many different languages. Anger and retaliation never changed any of those factors.
“That young man is going to have to decide how he wants to live the remainder of his life. Someone needs to tell him and every other young person: in order to be successful you have to assume personal responsibility for your action.
“The Apostle Paul reminds us that we can do all things through our Lord and Savior Jesus (Philippians 4:13); has this young man made Jesus Lord of his life? When he dies is he going to tell Father God that it was the White man’s fault that he didn’t do what he could do? Or will he blame his lack of success on Hispanics? He needs to know the truth about life, someone better tell him his nasty attitude is going to determine his altitude and he will not get very far.
“I am not saying we have to be friends with people that hate us but it doesn’t make sense to shoot yourself to prove a point to your enemy. Go talk to that young man Roger and his parents too if they will listen. But spend these days that he is home talking to him about his life. Use what Satan meant for evil for good.”
I had said what was on my heart,, surprisingly Roger, the Mayor, did not leave. Roger and I sat on the front porch for a long while that evening, just appreciating the sun as it set. When I finally stood up to go inside I offered him dinner but he declined, apparently he and Sister Sharon had plans. It is good when you can be honest with people and they don’t become so offended that they don’t talk to you anymore.
What Roger had not told me but I knew, because people come by my house all day, the young man had an in-school suspension even though he had hit  his girlfriend.  Nor did Mr Mayor know that tomorrow the girls parents and I are going to the school to see if we can talk to the young people about domestic violence: I walk my talk.
And that is the world according to NETTIE xxx Short Stories and essays by Marsha L F Randolph