The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

The 12 Things the Negro Must Do For Himself (Part I)

Early last century, Nannie Helen Burroughs wrote a pamphlet entitled “The 12 Things the Negro Must Do For Himself.” My friend and collegue, (and president of Virginia’s Frederick Douglass Foundation chapter), Sonnie Johnson, put me on to this. I haven’t seen a better description of what black self-reliance (and by extension, black conservatism) can and should be.

I was going to go in a different direction with this, but before I get accused of talking negatively about African Americans again (as I was yesterday), I’m going to list the twelve things and talk about how I think I stack up against them. I hope others will do the same.

So…here we go. The first six are here:

1. The Negro Must Learn to Put First Things First. The First things are: Education; Development of Character Traits; A Trade and Home Ownership.

After a few years of dragging my feet (and a couple of just blowing it off), I’ve realized the value of completing my education, and am resolved to do so (and rather ambitiously). And-somewhat by accident-I’ve stumbled into a professional role that I enjoy, and look forward to doing every day. As frustrating as politics can be sometimes, it’s a lot more fun than doing spreadsheets, presentations, and databases all day (though that is less frustrating!). There’s a path to home ownership, and I’m setting out on it as well.  Character wise…well, Corinthians 13:11 applies, and I’d like to think I’m leaning towards the “man” side of things these days.

2. The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk to Do for Him What He Can Do for Himself.

I’m a fairly self-reliant individual, which stems from a slight degree of paranoia of failure (read: I’m a bit of a control freak). I sometimes force myself to do things that I could easily get assistance on, just because I want the satisfaction that comes from saying I got them done on my own (and because I trust very few people to do them the way I want done!). And while I know God’s got my back, that doesn’t mean that work isn’t required on my part. He provides…it’s on me to accomplish.

3. The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children, and His Home Clean and Make the Surroundings in Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive.

Myself, check; my kids; check. I am guilty of leaving a trail of random stuff in whichever room of the house I’m in (“it’s organized in my mind!!”). I’m a guy, but even that can’t be too much of an excuse. My home’s a reflection of me and my family, and disorganization isn’t a good look for anyone.

4. The Negro Must Learn to Dress More Appropriately for Work and for Leisure.

Work, check; that comes from being in the military. Looking a mess just isn’t an option there, and that’s been instilled in my professional life. Now, for leisure…probably a different story. Then again, not completely sure as most of the time, I dress as if someone’s going to stick a camera and microphone in my face and ask me for comment (bad habit of being a pseud0-political figure, though it never seems to happen…).

5. The Negro Must Make His Religion an Everyday Practice and Not Just Sunday Go To Meeting Emotional Affair.

I grew up in the church…but in my adult life, I’ve become more of a spirtual person. My religion reflects in the things I believe and do. Being with other believers is good and necessary, but it’s also good to maintain a more intimate relationship with God than you usually get from a church service.

6. The Negro Must Highly Resolve to Wipe Out Mass Ignorance.

…at all costs, including the loss of friends and being shunned by family. Part of that is not only being critical of yourself, but of those around you. I refuse to tolerate ignorance, whether in thought or in action. That’s not because I feel like I’m better than anyone else or my life experiences have made me better, but because I hold myself-and others-to a certain standard. There’s ways I expect people to present and carry themselves-because I do the same. So when someone steps out of line, I call them on it…and when I do, I’m called on it. To me, that’s fair.

Look for the last six things this afternoon…Coby

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Written by Coby Dillard

April 28, 2010 at 9:20 am

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