When did we stop telling the stories of our ancestors pride, resilience, determination and resourcefulness in the face of unimaginable adversity, violence and persecution? We would not be here if they, our battered and beleaguered ancestors, had given up. Some died by choice in the murky waters of the Middle Passage. Others died from disease incubated in the filth infected bowels of a dark-hearted ship. Some ran for freedom and died but their sprint spoke to the freedom of the heart even when the heart’s freedom was denied. When we stopped reminding the generations after us that we had overcome the lies of those who deemed themselves superior long before the ink flowed from a presidential pen; when we decided that “we have overcome” meant “never again, no more,” we gave them access to that void left in the souls of those generations after us and they filled it with their animus and their vitriol. They fed shame to our children through subtle conniving racism and our children’s souls were consumed by the darkness. As a result, our children/youth don’t value their lives or the lives of others because they’ve been told and shown by them that they have no value. There are turf wars over arbitrarily drawn lines of invisible boundaries of unowned turf because real turf was redlined, segregated and denied. Too many accept the bitter crumbs from their begrudging table because we have been told that’s all we deserve. We pull and point at one another because we have bought into the lie that it’s the few and not all who are worthy of a place at their table and the uplifted have disdained, forgotten and ignored the left behind because they are not like us, not knowing (or pretending to not know), that their seat , though in the house, is at the children’s table in the kitchen and they will never sit with the big boys in the dining room, not if the big boys have anything to say about it and they do because they have convinced the few that the big boys own the table and they should be grateful that they have a good view.
Our ancestors survived and thrived and pressed their way forward in spite of. They dared each generation after to wipe their tears with hope, to wrap their sweat in pride, to dare to stand on a foundation of dreams. They demanded of each generation after to pour wisdom and excellence into the next generation, to be prepared and equipped for the moment when that door would open and to never forget to look back to a history of strength, raw courage, resilience and determination, in order to keep moving forward in unwavering strength and defiant raw courage.
When did we forget?