Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Million Possibilities

Did the black population give us science, as Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick – congresswoman in Michigan’s 13th district – stated at the “Millions More Movement” in DC today? I was watching it on C-SPAN this morning. However, I have to disagree with Ms. Kilpatrick. While there is no doubt that black scientists like George Washington Carver and Benjamin Banneker gave the world some amazing discoveries, I hardly think that either man is considered the “Father of Science”. I believe that title belongs to Galileo, an Italian.

I was living in DC in 1995 when the Million Man March was held on the Mall. So 10 years later, I thought I would catch the Millions More Movement for a while. Granted, I am a white guy and I admit to not understanding the plights and hardships of black people. There were a lot of things said during the parts that I watched that I did not understand or relate to. I admit it.

Certainly, the black population is not the only oppressed people; they are not the first and, sadly, they won’t be the last. But I can’t help but think that the leaders of this community have missed the boat in their guidance. I wish they would take a page from the books of other depressed groups on how to prosper from subjugation. And after watching the speakers for a few hours, I have created my Wish List for those who attended, watched, and believe in the Millions More Movement:

1) I wish this community would truly embrace their African heritage and not just talk the talk. I never hear of great pilgrimages to Africa. I never hear about groups of African Americans making the journey back to their homeland to learn what it is to be African. The Jewish community does this. Great groups of Jewish people make sojourns to Isreal. There are organizations like Hillel that are present on college and university campuses that organize Jewish students and send them to Isreal to learn what it is to “do Jewish.” To truly understand who you are and where you came from, you have to leave your town or city, indeed even your neighborhood.

2) I wish this community would rise above the white population and embrace how far they have come. The gay community did this. The pink triangle was a symbol of embarrassment and shame during World War II – gay Jewish men had to wear this symbol on every garment so that they could be immediately identified, ridiculed, beaten and killed. Years passed, and the gay community embraced the pink triangle to show how far they had come as a people. But more importantly, this symbol could no longer be used to oppress or embarrass them. It is now a symbol of pride. I wish the black community would do the same with the Confederate Flag. I wish they would embrace it to show how far they have come. And trust me on this – if the black community would do this, that flag would disappear from the back window of every pickup truck in Alabama. White supremacists would never again be able to use it as a negative symbol.

3) I wish this community would completely identify themselves so that they could truly be unionized. Some in the community call themselves African American, some say black, some say person of color, some even use the “N” word. One friend of mine refers to herself as an “Ebony Woman”. But its hard to know where you belong when so many of those with whom you identify refer to themselves by different classifications. A white guy is a white guy. A Native American is just that. A Latino is a Latino. Define who you are, and a lot of that comes from knowing who you are.

I guess time will tell if this Movement had a positive effect on the community, much like it took a few years to realize if The March 10 years ago had any effect. I hope it does. I hope people walk away from the Movement both effected and affected.