The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

What Are the Colored People Doing for Themselves? (Part I)

The present is a time when every colored man in the land should bring this important question home to his own heart. It is not enough to know that white men and women are nobly devoting themselves to our cause; we should know what is being done among ourselves.

The above-as well as the title-come from a speech given by Frederick Douglass in 1848. In it, he highlights three churches who he feels have not done enough to act in support of the abolitionist movement.

163 years later, many of the issues he raises are still worth inspection, and-in my case as a black American-introspection. Let’s begin with the inspection.

While the oppressed of the old world are making efforts, by holding public meetings, putting forth addresses, passing resolutions, and in various other ways making their wishes known to the world, and the working men of our own country are pressing their cause upon popular attention, it is a shame that we, who are enduring wrongs far more grievous than any other portion of the great family of man, are comparatively idle and indifferent about our welfare.

We know the trouble that the black community is in; 16-17% unemployment, disproportionate instances of diseases, too many black men in prison and too many black women raising kids on their own. American problems, sure…but with uniquely black circumstances. And we do a lot of talking about them. We hold conferences to discuss them, and at those conferences, we pass resolutions deploring them…

…but out of that talking, very little action ensues. We talk about high unemployment rates, but how many of our black-owned business hire from within the community? And why did it take a certain politician signing a pledge deploring the state of the black family before we could start a (brief) discussion about it? And why did we get mad at that politician for cosigning what too many of us already know, but have done little to nothing about?

More importantly, how many of us-conservative, liberal, whatever-are saying next to nothing about these problems at all, so long as the government benefits-excuse me, “entitlements”-keep coming every month?

One of the first things necessary to prove the colored man worthy of equal freedom, is an earnest and persevering effort on his part to gain it. We deserve no earthly or heavenly blessing, for which we are unwilling to labor.

Having been freed from slavery, too many in the black community have voluntarily re-enslaved themselves. All too often, some of us look to see how much we can get-from our friends, family, community, and government-before we have to actually work. Thousands fought-and many more died-to gain the equal freedom Douglass spoke of, and we “thank” them by doing just enough to remain eligible for some sort of assistance. Which begs the question…are we really free? Have we really shown ourselves equal in the eyes of all? Or is our “equality” merely wrapped up in the ability to be given what everyone else has to work for?

Our oppressors have divested us of many valuable blessings and facilities for improvement and elevation; but, thank heaven, they have not yet been able to take from us the privilege of being honest, industrious, sober and intelligent.

There’s no doubt that African Americans have, historically, had a rough time in this country. Slavery, discrimination, and racism all combined together to color the black existence in America in a way that few other races have had to deal with. That’s undeniable.

In the midst of those things, however, we have remained a strong, resilient people…because that’s what we cried out to God for; those intangible things that only He could grant to replace the tangibles that others wouldn’t. If riches came, great…but we wanted to know, to learn, to understand…to be. Not to just exist as a piece of property, but to have an existence that was created and maintained by our own hard work.

God heard those prayers…of our ancestors, our parents, and ourselves. And He granted them. But what He didn’t do is guarantee them, nor did He say He’d maintain them. From birth-yes, even through slavery, discrimination and racism-we’ve had the capacity to define ourselves by our actions, our knowledge, our work.

What are we doing ourselves to define ourselves; to create our own unique American existence? Are we more than just the hustler on the corner or the three-time felon? Are our women more than just sexual objects? Are our children more than the underachieving, selfish youth they’ve been made out to be?

And if we are more than those things-which I believe we are-are our actions showing it? Not just to the world, but to those around us? Have we as a community done enough? Can we as individuals do more?

Have I done all I can-not just for myself, but for those around me? I’ll answer that question tomorrow.

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Written by Coby Dillard

July 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Editorials

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