“What if we believed in Black people as much as we believed in appeasing white people?” —Preston D. Mitchum
They say perception is reality. This is especially true when people desperately want to believe a lie. If you’re a person of African descent such as myself, you’ve probably heard countless times:
“Black people are the only people on the
planet who don’t support one another!”
Maybe you even believed it at one point.
Be it racism, antiblackness, lack of critical thinking and/or all of the above, most people accept this at face value.
However, the statement is completely false.
There is no way descendants of the African Diaspora would have been able to weather centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, genocide, and systemic oppression if we did not support one another. To that point, the Underground Railroad, the NAACP, historically Black colleges and universities, Black Wall Street, the Civil Rights Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and Afrofuturism are all examples of Blacks supporting one another.
If we didn’t support one another:
- President Barack Obama wouldn’t have made history and served two terms. It’s been well documented why the Obama administration was a successful one. Spoiler alert: Black Girl Magic.
- Tyler Perry’s groundbreaking movie studio wouldn’t be providing opportunities to Black Hollywood and shelter to those in need.
- Five incredible Black women would not currently be making HERstory by holding the world’s top beauty pageant titles.
- Icons the likes of Michael and Janet Jackson, Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Janelle Monae, Beyonce, Prince, Oprah, Dwayne Johnson, and Shonda Rhimes wouldn’t have reached their respective levels of unprecedented success.
Neither would this very article you’re reading or this website exist if Black people didn’t empower one another.
Yet in spite of all of this evidence, people insist on allowing cognitive dissonance to get the better of them.
“There is always this societal narrative when it comes to the killing or persecution of Black people that we somehow did something to deserve it.” —Janaya Khan
This is why in order to dismantle antiblackness, it is imperative to speak facts, tell the truth, and shame the devil. So let’s talk about it:
- Let’s talk about how Black communities embody the Statue of Liberty’s famous poem, “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Because often Black communities are havens for other minorities in need. Let’s talk about how Lady Liberty was originally designed to celebrate the end of slavery, not the arrival of immigrants. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Morehouse launching a new fund to help eliminate student loan debt. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about the NFL blackballing Colin Kaepernick because he reminded the world that innocent Black citizens are being murdered in cold blood by members of law enforcement. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about the #MeToo movement being founded by Tarana Burke. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat star Hudson Yang thanking Black viewers who are larger than the sitcom’s Asian American audience. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about this heroine making 100 lunches a day to
feed any kid in her neighborhood who asks. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Keisha Knight Pulliam and Arian Simone launching a $5 million venture capital fund for Black women entrepreneurs. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Producer/Director Greg Berlanti crediting his hero Muhammad Ali for giving him the strength to come out to his parents. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about this do-gooder traveling to all 50 states to mow lawns for veterans. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Halle Berry taking extra time to allow Black journalists to interview her on the red carpet. Because, according to the Oscar winner, she can’t forget her brothers and sisters. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Jaden Smith launching a food truck to feed the homeless as well as his company working to bring clean water to Flint. Let’s talk about it.
- Let’s talk about Don Cheadle hosting Saturday Night Live while wearing a T-shirt with the emblazoned message: Protect Trans Kids. Let’s talk about it.
No, really, let’s talk about it.
Are there areas of opportunity for the Black community to do better? Without question. However, when compared to other communities, Blacks are actually excelling. A point that’s also been made by North Carolina Senator Mujtaba Mohammed:
“[African Americans] never immigrated here. They were forcefully brought to this country, and they had to fight for themselves. The African American community is a huge example of inspiration for people of color, for immigrants, to stake your claim for this country, that your voice matters.”
Black Excellence isn’t possible without Black love; love for ourselves, our siblings, our communities, our culture. Not only do Blacks support each other but we also support everyone else. We’re the only race to have our culture adopted and emulated by the rest of the world, all over the world. In spite of weathering every unspeakable atrocity possible, our achievements are undeniable.
The United States alone is a testament to this. Every freedom and liberty Americans are enjoying was made a reality by African-Americans. Be it feminism, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, equality for disability, economic reform — there’s not one social justice issue that Blacks didn’t make a reality. That’s Black culture. When we fight for progress, we fight for everyone. We are magical. We are beautiful. We are gifted. We love and support us.
Any claims to the contrary, the devil is a liar.
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Dennis R. Upkins is a speculative fiction author, a journalist and an equal rights activist. His first two young adult novels, Hollowstone and West of Sunset, were released through Parker Publishing. Both Upkins and his previous work have been featured in Harvard Political Law, Bitch Media, MTV News, Mental Health Matters, Geeks OUT, Black Power: The Superhero Anthology, Sniplits, and The Connect Magazine.