I will confess to all concerned that I let the recent biased, political rhetoric that is being spread by right-wing, win-by-any-means GOP presidential nominees, irritate me to my most inner core. I seethed with extreme condemnation to what was being alleged about the people of my race. I tried, unsuccessfully I must admit, to understand why anyone would sink to the lowest depths of unacceptable human behavior to try to spread such horrific lies.
These insensitive, opportunistic fabricators have insinuated that blacks exploit the food stamp system and that we rely on other people’s money as a means to survive. Such unsubstantiated, coordinated claims should infuriate every fair-minded person who will acknowledge the historical tendency of blacks — save maybe from their relatives — to independently provide for their families without requesting aid from anyone.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have chosen to reach out to the most prejudiced American citizens by making racially explicit statements that they know are not true. The main reason for this vilest of tactics is that the prospective nominees’ candidacies are substantively deficient of anything that actually moves the country forward and they need to inject something utterly ridiculous into their message that incites the morally corrupt to vote for them. As most wise people know, desperation and the mediocrity of one’s character often spawns the most repulsive behavior that can be exhibited by an individual.
Rather than merely mulling futilely about the decisions of the candidates to utilize xenophobic rhetoric about blacks to garner support from those furthest to the right, I decided that this was the opportune time to enlighten our young about the importance of knowing and safe-guarding what is most precious to us as black American citizens.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to remind our black youth that they must become intimately familiar with every aspect of our black cultural history. They need to know that they have an awesome task ahead of them to ensure that our people successfully navigate the path to complete social acceptability that some still want to deny us of. They must continue the march toward achieving the economic parity that still eludes us after 400 years of existence in this, our adopted home.
Black youth, our people’s most precious commodity, are the inheritors of a legacy that is not limited to what we have accomplished here and the obstacles that we overcame to enable us to get where we are today, but a profound heritage that also transcends the mighty Atlantic ocean back to our native land to the birthplace of our forefathers; our beloved Africa.
Here is the first and most important lesson that our young people must learn. Take the time to learn the complete history of our people and therefore you will not have to listen idly, never responding to the rants of men who lie to exploit the tendencies of some to believe whatever they are told. It is essential that they confront them with validated information that will pass the scrutiny of the most ardent skeptic. They must also counter the vitriolic allusions of determined racists with relevant conversation that addresses their assertions directly and intelligently. A bigoted liar’s greatest fear is to be challenged in person with information that can be corroborated.
Don’t just selfishly sit on what you have learned about our illustrious history. Share that wisdom with others, whether younger or older, who may not have had the opportunity to acquire the knowledge that you have. Knowledge is not only intellectual power but it is also an essential component in the repertoire of skills that you must possess to judiciously dispel the unfounded myths that others spread about us.
It is important that black youth rely on the resilience and the tenacity of our people to overcome the improbable to bring them through the toughest of times. Our people’s fortitude has been tested by the harshest of climates and we have been subjected to atrocities that surpass human comprehension, yet we survive. It is my sincere belief that it is God’s will that we face these trials and tribulations as a test of our faith that he has a special place for us in the hereafter.
In order to adequately provide for their families and to ensure success in an economic environment that demands that you need to have instruction that exceeds a secondary education, they must make attaining advanced technical training or attending college a number one priority. Being among the most economically underprivileged people in the nation, we have to dramatically improve the future financial prospects of black people by making a quality education a must for all of our children.
Lastly, it is up to our youth to continue the fight to douse the fiery, acidic mouths of those who seek to expand the racial divisiveness in our nation by re-erecting barriers that we were torn down decades ago. I challenge our youth not to become complacent with the social and economic gains that we have acquired over the years. There is still a great divide between where we are and where we need to be. It is up to them to eternally carry the glorious mantle of our people forward. We leave our young people with a proud, ancient heritage that is to be fiercely defended and forever perpetuated.
— Harold Thomas, Orangeburg.