NO one can deny the gross injustices African-Americans suffered at the hands of white Americans since the days of slavery. Even for some of us who are far removed from the reality of the humiliation and injustice, it is virtually impossib
le to hold back the tears and anger when reading about such horrors.
At the same time, one cannot help being filled with a sense of admiration for the bravery of the African-Americans during their numerous struggles for emancipation. Names such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr easily come to mind. They were epitomes of what the struggle was all about: for African-Americans to have self-pride and their refusal to be seen and treated as inferiors.
Their struggle was for the removal of racist laws, not to change the white Americans’ racist mentality, since they knew that it would be a futile exercise. Changing laws is one thing, but changing attitudes is another.
These heroes had the wisdom to realise that their struggle was to be in two main phases.
Firstly, to make all races equal in the eyes of the law. Secondly, to make African-Americans realise that the white Americans’ racist mentality was not going to change, and therefore, blacks should not expect success in life to come smoothly. Therefore, they had to change their fellow African-Americans’ minds.
However, the second phase of the struggle has not been overly successful. African-Americans today are still slaves; enslaved by their own self-deception about the world around them. They have refused to set themselves free from the shackles Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr fought so hard to break.
They still believe that the world owes them something. They refuse to fly and then blame their failures on everyone else — racism this and racism that.
It is about time that African-Americans let racism be someone else’s problem.
No amount of shouting and complaining will wash racism away. It is here with us, and will be around for the unforeseeable future. They should not allow their minds to be constantly obsessed with this aggrievement and always walking around with a chip on their shoulders. It is time to break free and fly despite the racist attitudes surrounding them.
Let those that still revel in racism be the ones to worry. African-Americans should stop using racism as an excuse for their own shortcomings. They should learn to face their shortcomings head-on and deal with them, because only they can save themselves from self-destruction. Comedian Bill Cosby — frustrated by the cry-baby attitude of African-Americans — once commented: for me, there is a time when you must turn the mirror around, and place the blame where it belongs.
It is very worrying to note that today the majority of African-Americans seek refuge from reality by embracing this self-destructive negative complex. A significant number of African-Americans cannot even read and write.
Consequently, most of them find themselves trapped in a dead-end existence. That is why an understandably angry Cosby once commented:
“They are hip. They can’t read, they can’t write. They are laughing and giggling, and they are going nowhere.”
A life, unfortunately, some of our own Zimbabwean youths find enviable. Sadly, what our Zimbabwean youths do not realise is that there is very little to learn from our African-American brothers and sisters.
African-Americans must learn to be self-empowering. They need to live according to a goal-focus from childhood. They need to know what they want from life and take charge to ensure they achieve their objective.
There is no excuse for failure. Stop viewing everyone who tells the truth as pandering to white interests.
Tendai R Mbofana,