Beyoncé’s talent and success are undeniable. Hell, she drops albums in the middle of the night with no promotion and the whole nation stops. Impressive. While her talent is undeniable, so is the role of sexuality in her success. Even her latest project “Lemonade” features a decent amount of shots of her in revealing and/or suggestive clothing and as a bonus, Serena Williams shaking her ass like an average “video girl.” These women are two of the most accomplished humans in history and yet they still feel some need to sell something other than their artistry.
Black triumph is Harriet Tubman now replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Black anger is what my soul feels because Harriet Tubman is the new face of the $20 bill. Her life was one big “screw you” to a country and economic system steeped in white supremacy and misogyny. As a black, slave woman, her life was a middle finger to both. Now she is to be memorialized on our currency. Her life challenged the country and its economic system and by honoring her, the country makes a tacit admission that her cause was just: black triumph. On the other hand, that this symbolic gesture passes for true racial progress is maddening: black anger. One part of me celebrates the symbolism while the other is screaming out to my people to ignore the symbolism and look for substance.
Georgetown University is a microcosm of America: built on slavery, unwilling to repay that debt and still maintaining our admiration and support. Georgetown University has an endowment of $1.5 billion. In its early days the school relied on Jesuit slave plantations to finance its operations. In 1838, however, the school was close to financial ruin. Georgetown survived thanks to the
Will Smith was a freakishly fast athlete, but he couldn’t outrun New Orleans. The details of his murder are still hazy, but one thing is for sure: that city killed him. By all accounts, Smith was an upstanding family man who loved the city and contributed a great deal to it; but it wasn’t enough. At 6’3 and weighing 280, he still wasn’t large enough to rise above the realities of New Orleans and neither are we. Regardless of how personally responsible he or any of us are, we’re still vulnerable to the worst elements of our cities. Unless we commit ourselves not only to personal achievement but also participation in radical social transformation, we all remain at risk.
I hope you aren’t raped or shot today. There’s a good chance the police won’t have your back. Fifty years ago there was a likelihood of over 90 percent that a murder would lead to an arrest and despite tremendous advances in technology, today there’s a one in three chance that your case will go unsolved (and much worse in communities of color). The police are no better at solving rapes than in the 1970’s: there’s only a 24 percent chance that an arrest will be made. We spend more than $100 billion annually on police and this is the return. More alarming, in the month of March 2015, American police killed more citizens than police in the UK have since 1900. Cops aren’t solving crimes and making us safe but they are chasing nonsense and doing plenty of shooting. This is what the War on Drugs has wrought.
This piece is explicitly for black America. We have remained on the bottom of just about every social indicator since we were brought to America, for many reasons. I’ve given up on America giving us our just due, but even so, we can solve many of the issues that ail us in the next thirty years. Seriously. With the emergence of “Black Lives Matter” many of us are becoming more conscious or ‘woke’ but just maybe we haven’t been fully informed on what it will take to eradicate black oppression or the level of sacrifice it will require. To be truly ‘woke’ requires more than tweeting.