Roach: “Being Black in the 21st Century”
Former Anchor Rising contributor and GoLocalProv MINDSETTER(tm) Don Roach takes the occasion of Black History Month to speak about what it means to be black in the 21st century:
[T]he main “problem” facing black people in 2011 is a lack of identity. For centuries we were defined by others and defined ourselves by what was done to us. We were enslaved, we were treated like chattel, we had our rights stripped from us, we had few opportunities for advancement, etc.
In 2011, that’s simply no longer true. So who are we? Think about it, if your entire existence has always been defined and controlled by another group, what happens when that group no longer pulls the purse strings?
What happens when you actually win your freedom?
Maybe that’s the wrong question. Perhaps the problem is as a society we want to lump all black people together. We’re not all the same, some of us can’t dance, play basketball, and leaving her nameless some black people I know even like Country music. Perhaps a result of freedom is the loss of collective identity. Is that so bad?
No, it’s not. No one is easily pigeonholed. For while, to one extent or another, we all tend to identify with one or even several groups, our individual identity goes beyond the narrow confines of the assumptions and, yes, stereotypes held by others towards those so “grouped.” That goes for ethnicity, religion and even political or philosophic ideology. But it’s so darned easy to make assumption, isn’t it? To use the “Cliff Notes” of life and make those snap decisions about others so we don’t have to engage or think quite so hard.
We’re all guilty of it and, especially around here, written expression and commentary doesn’t always properly convey the fullness of our character. In my experience, nothing really tops face-to-face with some food and a few beers. It humanizes us in our increasingly disconnected society. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go all Rodney King—I still may think you’ve got some f-ed up views, but at least there’s a chance we’ll like the same beer and think that the Sox have a chance this year (damn straight!).