Friday, March 16, 2012

Hope and Hopelessness

Shuffling around my kitchen this morning before the break of day, I was thinking about a couple of young Black men I spoke with this week. They're different from each other, in different situations, and I suspect they will ultimately reach quite different outcomes. But one thing I picked up from both, though manifesting itself differently in each case, was an undercurrent of hopelessness on some level.

One is thinking about being a lawyer. Is a college student. Cracks jokes, sometimes witty jokes. Sometimes breaks through to a level of intelligence that offers a glimpse of what's dancing around in his mind, trying to sort out the contradictions of our culture.

The other is searching for a new beginning. Dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Has a three-year-old son and a Baby Mama with a new boyfriend. Never been in serious trouble, but is standing on the brink, looking for a path that might make it possible for him to be the man he wants his son to see in him.

Very different, you say? Less than we might think. Because they're both Black men in a White Supremacist nation. And they know it. And the hum that pulses under our cultural radar is the continual presence of the judgments under which they must operate, the expectations of failure with which they are constantly presented, the self-doubt that unceasingly nibbles at their collective psyche.

Like a subliminal message embedded into the film of life or the music of a soundtrack, they cannot see it or identify its message, but one way or the other (jokes? relocation?), they try to stay one step ahead of the grief, the sadness, the fear that at some point, a hopelessness will set in that will undermine all their best efforts to outrun it.

I hope they survive. I hope they beat the odds. I hope they find the antidote to the system that is White Supremacy.

I watched a movie this week on "How to Start a Revolution". It gave me hope, convincing me there is a way for the oppressed in any country to overcome oppressors. I hope the Black youth of America will -- somehow -- connect with that knowledge, that light, that hope. I will do what I can to nurture that hope, to set that hope ablaze. In hope -- with all my heart -- that they will someday free us all.

Below is a short film Vin Diesel made in 1995 that speaks of his struggle as a Black man to root out what W.E.B. DuBois called "double consciousness" and be able to see himself and be seen as the human he is.

Multi-Facial (Part 1)

Multi-Facial (Part 2)
Note: The graphic above is the cover of the book by this title.

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