A few days ago as I was driving home from NYC, I was trying to figure out what topic I’d tackle today. I reached out to a friend for suggestions and he brought something to mind that’s particularly relevant given the recent passing of Dorothy Height, the Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement. The “struggle” today is obviously different than the 50s and 60s. Anybody who reads this blog has reaped the benefits of what those who passively and actively protested did to get us to this point. These are the people that got spit on, flogged, sprayed with fire houses, shot with rubber and real bullets, and jailed for standing up for their beliefs. I don’t need to say much more because we’ve all seen the pictures. It’s also important to mention that I’m not just talking about Black people. There are plenty of people of other races and ethnicities that suffered the same treatment for standing with “us.”
This still isn’t the point of the post. The point, plain and simple, is that we aren’t built today like the people that came before us. Granted, it’s a different landscape and we have access to a ton of technology that allows us to quickly and effectively get the word out, but it stops there. We don’t need to go to a sit-in or chain ourselves to doors to fight for a cause. We just throw money at it. And if we don’t throw money, we’ll send a few emails, buy a t-shirt, or put a link to something in one of our social media profiles and call it a day. Oh yeah, we’ll call people to complain and talk about the issues then get off the phone and watch Real Housewives of Atlanta or the Ray J and Brandy show.
I don’t know anybody that’s willing to risk being jailed or endure bodily harm nowadays to support a cause. I’m not saying that people need to do that given the era we live in, but any sort of perceived inconvenience turns most of us off—myself included at times. I often wonder what my life would be like if I operated with the progressive mentality of the Civil Rights Era in 2010. I speculate that I’d complain a lot less and that I’d be further along in my career or pursuit of things that would make me happier than I am now. The same could probably be said for most of the people around me.
I don’t expect this post to change the world. Sh*t, I’m willing to bet some people already clicked away or closed the window because the chat got real, but that’s life. Regardless, I just want people to really think about where we are today. I also want those who call themselves activists or philanthropists to really think about what those roles mean in the context of those that came before us. I don’t expect everyone to quit their jobs and move to a less privileged country. I expect that if people are going to throw up the fist and claim to be about something that they will actually do something other than toss some money or send an occasional email to feel good about “moving the movement.” We all have an incredibly long way to go.
With each instrumental person that passes, people seem to come to multiple realizations. It shouldn’t take a tragedy or loss to make people be more appreciative of what they have and where they are, but once again that’s life. Nonetheless, what are your thoughts? Do you think people today are built like those of the past? Do you think we even have it in us? What does it mean to you to be an activist, philanthropist, or major supporter of a cause? What are your limits when it comes to standing behind a strong belief?
Fired up but not trying to get fired,