“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha
The first history lessons that stuck with me were the ones about slavery,Antebellum and the Civil Rights Movement. These lessons resounded because they were dealing with people just like me and I wanted to learn everything that I could about people like me (no matter how putrid or horrific). This desire to learn evolved into actions that leaned more to the side of vengeance. This desire increased when I learned about Angela Davis, a female activist who was incarcerated during the Civil Rights Movement. After learning of how Ms. Davis was accused of a crime that she did not commit and jailed, I knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I began to speak out in class and to my peers about the injustices that black Americans faced and how we had to stand up to “the man”. My mother would become fearful that I would be labeled a domestic terrorist if I did not calm down with my militancy. As I grew, I began to overlook racial differences, allowing myself to realize that my race had nothing to do with success. I began to let go of the anger that came with the learning of slavery and the cruelty of my ancestors. This actually seemed to work until I was “separated” from my job because I had been subjected to racial slurs and had decided to voice how I felt. This ordeal has caused me to rekindle some of my anger towards “the man” because, like most people, I thought that racism had died after the election of Barack Obama. Today while talking to one of my mentors the light began to come on. He said, “Everyone thinks that they are entitled to things because of went on in the past. It is not a get-out-of work free pass, it is a let’s not let it happen again thing.”
For the past 17 or so years, I have been angry at the past thinking that my emotions would move the world into a position of justice and equality for all. Anger only begets more anger and it’s not towards the person that we are angry towards. Anger sucks the life out of the person who has it within themselves. Anger does not eradicate or resolve slavery. Nor does it make racism dissipate. Anger is the fuel to the fire that these things bring. The more anger I have towards “the man” it is less of a chance that I thrive in life.
Do I think that racial slurs are wrong? Yes. Do I think that the institution of slavery was immoral? Yes. Do I believe that racism is still an uncured cancer? You better believe it. Will me being angry at “the man” resolve any of these conflicts? NO.
Education of self is the only thing that can rectify the plight of the urban community. Holding on to what has been is not helping our children grow into productive citizens, it is killing our neighborhoods causing us to be caught in the acrimony of the past.