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  • The Dreamer’s Dream: Teetering on the Brink

    Rise beyond ourselves, in the interests of each other – for a better world: we will – we have to.

    This a remarkably exhilarating post, as much as it is a wounding one, due to the current state of the African American experience, which seems rudderless, leaderless and slipping under measures that most other people are purposefully denouncing or abdicating altogether.

    Our nation will celebrate its first non-president on the National Mall, when civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., will be enshrined alongside Abraham Lincoln as a permanent part of the American idea.

    As an African American, who has seen dramatic change in race relations and economic uplift by many black Americans: Dr. King’s dream is teetering precariously on the brink of implosion. The black community, for all its advances of a robust middle-class, might have its largest percentage of working poor and indigent people in over forty years – it’s largest percentage of high-school dropouts, and definitely its largest percentage of black people in the penal system, which is a scathing indictment of a once voided people, who now through both institutional and self-inflicted means, are becoming those at the “bottom of the well” once more.

    There are a few factors: somewhere after those hard fought, historic victories – a great percentage of the black community became complacent: might have assimilated too fast and too deeply, which gave us the false assurance that we had accomplished far more than we actually did – that we no longer needed to move through progress – through achievement – through individual and collective determination, and now we are living through the unfortunate consequences of a dream that might be slipping through our fingertips.

    To some degree, I guess it makes sense, because the fight for civil rights and other types of upgrade was so long and brutal, black people were exhausted and wanted the immediate amenities that were byproducts of their effort to reinvent America as their own. But something happened: the fight, the struggle – the vision, was replaced by instant gratification, hyper-consumption – by boorish, imposing and deadly culture – by educational apathy – by lack of worldliness, which is antithetical to the work ethic and perseverance that made the civil rights event possible – and during this course, black people unknowingly displaced the spirit and tools that brought them progress in the first place. And now too many African Americans are having trouble recapturing that spirit, while others have no idea that they’ve ever had it all.

    African Americans are presently caught in a typhoon — a manmade catastrophe, which they have built themselves and fully bought into – and now most black people are hostages to the very thing they created. And through broken families and blighted communities, black people have settled into a demoralizing pattern of being those people, who are least equipped to change their own circumstances.

    Yet, there is a solution: “African Americans must participate in their own rescue.”

    I think the basic problem African Americans now face, is that they are looking outside of themselves for their own solutions: they are also looking at others to blame for the asphyxiation-like consequences that are the tradeoffs of questionable culture and indifferent determination, and still, it’s too infrequent when black people try to remake themselves into the image and possibility of “tomorrow.”

    It starts with self: the history of the black experience – the struggle, has not been repurposed to younger generations — made important – nor valuable enough for current black people to live through the urgency of a moment forged through sweat and blood – through sacrifice – and we have to once again learn how to become dreamers, coupled with a serious plan of actualization. African Americans have to again, learn to develop and stay within processes, to move through rigor and performance – through excellence: to look at our place in the world, not through accommodation, but through knocking the status quo on its ass, so we can live through individual achievement and collective empowerment – and through humanness

    African Americans must participate in their own rescue: but before they can, they must know that President Barack Obama is only a symbol of the movement – a small piece of the manifestation from what happened on the Pettus Bridge – but Obama is not where self-actualization will be had: he will be nowhere near where an educational and entrepreneurial movement will be developed, implemented and turned into the twenty-first century cornerstone of black America. President Obama will not be at your dinner table – to tell your children the importance of education, of working hard and through a relentless search for excellence – – he will not help diminish the lionization of street culture. Obama won’t be able to tell you to ruthlessly pursue value, innovation collaboration and results: that’s our job – it has always been our job.

    The new movement starts with African Americans valuing value differently, valuing themselves and each other – valuing possibility — valuing the process of process – valuing transformation – valuing gratitude – valuing never again – valuing responsibility and responsiveness – valuing shared ideals, ideas and activities – valuing the sun – valuing now – valuing “right now” – valuing you ain’t dead, so live — valuing tomorrow, today – valuing amazing.

    Black people’s power has to be utilized wherever they reside, wherever they now work, wherever they plan to reside and work in the future – wherever they plan to raise their children – where they plan to open businesses and put positive imprints upon the community – where they plan to become the new freedom.

    This power – this freedom – this power and freedom has to be made into something important – something ethereal – something bigger than us all – something that differentiates between being popular and being valuable — something connected to our best selves –  connected to humility and excellence — connected to being purposeful – connected to guidance, not gossip — connected to reclamation and recast — connected to hope more than hype – connected to a plan — connected to “ownership” of our moment – connected to a righteous movement — connected to soulfulness — connected to the very best of all things.

    African Americans now have a unique moment: a moment born in plantation shanties and lived-out in urban ghettos – a moment that is finally their own, whether they like it or not – a moment to become who they should have already been some time ago: a moment of reconcile and reset – a moment to write the narrative of the next American century in their own voice – a moment to become the new freedom and empowered – to become the greatest generations of African Americans ever.

    I pray today for those, who were lost on the first slave ships to leave West Africa and I pray for that young black man, who will be senselessly murdered tomorrow. I pray for that young black girl, who is autonomous, resourceful and focused – I pray that her hard work, her tenacity – her failures, all become utility, when she is chosen a Baker Scholar in Harvard’s MBA program. I pray that we seek the “light” and create a plan of action – of family, of educational and economic stepping-stones, milestones and thresholds, and hold ourselves accountable, and value ourselves and each other – and love one another.

    African Americans owe ourselves a new moment: where we find our voice: force ourselves into the sunlight – into a people building – world changing movement and rise beyond ourselves, in the interests of each other – in the interests of a better world. We will – we have to.

    Thank you for your life: thank you for not fearing death to avail so many, so much. Sleep well sweet prince.

    Good luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals
    calvin.wilson1@verizon.net
    http://twitter.com/Upstart__Nation

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