As I celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I reflect on the many things King did during the civil rights movement and the many speeches that inspired not only African-Americans but also Americans all over to end segregation.
King fought for our collective freedom for a number of years until it eventually killed him in the process.
As I reflect upon the many things he did so we could enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else, I can’t help but feel saddened by how only a few seem to take advantage of it. I say this while staring at an unnamed club flier with King’s head placed on someone else’s body, gripping money in one hand and surrounded by scantily dressed women.
Is this how we appreciate the sacrifices of those before us? What happened to the dream that King and our predecessors fought so hard to obtain? As I look at my fellow African-Americans, I am oftentimes disheartened to see how easily we forget the struggle of those before us for the sake of attaining something as simple and trivial as money, sex and other material things. I literally watch as we fight and kill each other over simple arguments on World Star Hip-Hop, which is encouraging it instead of trying to stop it.
I frown as I find my generation becomes less and less aware of what goes on in the news, and though it’s hurtful to see, it is impossible to ignore. We’re killing the dream with unashamed ignorance.
I feel this unappreciative attitude stems from the fact that many of us live in the age where we are pretty well off. We get what we want. We can go where we wish, drink where we want and eat at any restaurant we please, whereas back in the day, that wasn’t the case.
I grew up hearing stories of my father as a child. He’d tell me that he couldn’t use the public bathrooms or restaurants so his father packed lunches for them on road trips in the South. I heard stories of how my grandmother couldn’t go to school because it was miles and miles away and only the white kids could ride the school bus.
Because we’ve never personally gone through the same struggle, many of us don’t appreciate how blessed we are to have the resources we do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that you must go through the same struggle as others in order to appreciate what we have, but I do believe in order to move forward we must look back and see how far we’ve come, which leads to an entirely different problem.
Many of us no longer have any knowledge of our heritage anymore. Even with a month set aside to find new knowledge of our culture, we carry on as if it’s just another day because to us, it really is. The whole month goes by and we revisit the same important figures and claim we’ve learned something new when we’ve yet to explore any deeper.
How can this problem in the African-American community be solved with so much damage done? How might we be able to reverse this process of self-sabotage? The answer is simple. Become acquainted with your historical background so that you may teach others of how far we have come as a people. Open up the history books and read of our ancestors who sacrificed so much so that we could get a higher education and make something of ourselves. We are more than what World Star Hip-Hop and society perceives us to be.