There was a time when Afro-Americans were not permitted to enjoy basic freedoms in the USA. They couldn’t vote, drink from “White” water fountains, own property, send their children to the schools of their choice, hold public office, sit where they wished on a public bus, rent a hotel room, eat in a Whites’ only diner, play professional sports and participate as equal citizens in a whole lot of other instances.
This was not that long ago. I’m going to be 52 years old in February. And I can clearly remember reading, listening and seeing the anti-Black violence as it was happening in the USA. I remember Martin Luther King as someone I saw and heard live via radio and television. I clearly remember the Civil Rights marches and the beatings on Blacks at the hands of White thugs and the police.
But every dog has its day. And at one point in the 60’s, the dog that was American Apartheid started to back away with its tail between its legs.
America’s Black community said enough is enough. And if the establishment is going to deny us our rights; there will be an enormous price for the Whites to pay in doing so.
There were riots, beatings, shootings, boycotts, pickets, demonstrations and enormous pressures placed upon the shoulders of the White men who wanted to get elected, or stay elected. This was the power of wanting to be treated as an equal citizen.
Last night, January 9, 2002, I watched two television shows by alternating between them. One was the American Music Awards. The other was Michel Jackson’s 30th anniversary Special. Both shows were spectacular. Especially Jackson’s.
Not only were there as many, if not more Blacks participating on both shows to strut their stuff; there were huge live audiences who tried as hard as they could to bring their respective roofs down. And these audiences were as much White as they were Black.”we’ve come a long way baby” in terms of equal rights and visibility.
I watched in utter fascination as Michael Jackson performed only as Michel Jackson could. It was reminiscent of the Beatles, when the Beatles brought little girls and adult women to tears. And had grown men up and out of their seats rhythmically waving their arms and hands over their heads in time to the music. And it seemed as though everyone in the audience knew the words and sang along with Jackson.
Today, Afro-Americans occupy some of the highest offices in the land. Many are sport and entertainment icons. And many more have become professionals of incredible repute. Not because someone gave it to them. But, rather; because they first demanded the chance to participate on an equal footing, and then worked their collective ass off to excel.
Michael Jackson is the classic example of someone who is absolutely revered for his incredible talent; solely because of his uniqueness that is completely his own invention.
I wrote this piece because it is irrefutable proof, that success lies in the hands of anyone willing to reach out and sacrifice to earn it. The American Black community has become in many ways the yardstick by which people, communities and nations should measure themselves. After all the roadblocks put in their way; if the Afro-Americans could do it. So can everyone else.
Remember: the American Black community didn’t get to where they are, and to where they are heading by being passive. They worked for it and demanded an equal chance.
This lesson can be applied world-wide, and even in our own back-yard. Quebec would do well to see what can happen when you stop blaming everyone for your own shortcomings, and worry more about excelling on their own merits, as can the Palestinians who also have to stop complaining, and start getting on with the task of nation-building.
There was phenomenal entertainment on the night of January 9, 2002. But; just under the surface of the sheer enjoyment of watching and listening to these two spectacles, was a clear message. Success is yours if you want it badly enough, and are willing to sacrifice to get it. And excuses are for losers.