Are We There Yet?

by Matthew DzSlim da Reazondz Parham

It’s been a long and arduous road for the African American en route to the reclamation of self-esteem, perspective, and balance. A road that is replete with a dizzying array of clandestine set backs, step backs and death traps.

From the advent of European colonialism, to the Black Wall Street massacre, all the way to modern racial profiling and “All Lives Matter”, the African American has been the victim of various atrocities and monstrosities motivated solely by European greed and fear. The impact of these egregious acts of barbarism have been documented and discussed at great length in and out of Academia. The focus of this particular piece, however, is not the acts of transgression themselves, but the residual cultural complacency and apathy resulting from them.

For every encroachment upon the social stability of the African American, we are given some token gesture upon which we are supposed to hang our hats. As though the blatantly intrinsic racism upon which America was forged is all but washed away with a small modicum of pseudo-advancement. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, but we still saw the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, MLK in 1968 and Fred Hampton in 1969. Not to take anything away from such a progressive piece of legislation, which was indeedgroundbreaking and historical, but the system of supremacy that makes such a bill even necessary, could not be stopped from targeting and removing African American leaders through violence.

Former President Bush passed The No Child Left Behind Act to supposedly aid the urban community in educational development, but programs that already functioned in that capacity, such as the Upward Bound Program, were placed in dire jeopardy, their funding subsequently stripped down to beyond bare bones. School districts are being redrawn and gerrymandered to prevent them from receiving necessary federal assistance, while prisons are being built like McDonald’s on every corner. I’ve never been bitten by a radioactive arachnid, but my Spidey Senses are tingling as I look around… Something is just not right with the picture being presented to us. And the most disturbing aspect of it all is the lack of appropriate response from the modern black community.

After all the marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, stand-ups, rallies, and riots, we seem to have been convinced that we have somehow arrived at our final destination. That we are now at the precipice of the promised land, where jobs are plentiful, opportunities are uniform and wealth is evenly dispersed. I look around and I ask you, are we there yet? I’ve seen many urban communities around America. In Magnanni loafers and Nike Huaraches I’ve walked the streets of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Cleveland, and more. I’ve seen the streets littered with empty cigarette cartons, medicinal marijuana vials, and discarded condoms. Police sirens echo off shards of glass glittering on the pavement, next to shattered dreams and broken promises. All just mere feet away from where the children play, oblivious to the socioeconomic vultures circling above their futures; they are somehow blissfully impervious, all problems rendered impotent through the lens of innocence. The adults mill about, shuffling to and from dead end jobs and the liquor store. “Make America Great Again” posters are stapled over faded “Yes We Can” flyers. Are we there yet?

Drug addicts lay idle, in chemically induced slumbers across Crenshaw Blvd., just paces from churches with signs that read “Come, all are welcome.”

Are we there yet?

The “conscious” revolutionaries sit, on thrones of soapboxes, telling us the errors of our ways, but shunning the very recipients of their message; perpetuating dichotomous behaviors between those most able to enact change and implement grassroots strategies.

Are we there yet?

We cast ballots for elected officials with skin like ours, yet they refuse to serve the interest of the community and instead meet the desires of the super-PACs that fund their campaigns.

Are we there yet?

Our identity and integrity are still under attack. The siege is being led by the very system of supremacy we now so vehemently defend and believe in. Hypnotizing music and reality television are thrown in the trough for us, filling our minds, while the boots of America trample cultures around the globe and around the block. Our faith lies in the hope that a power-mad, oligarchical, globalized ruling class will allow the People to actually taste the nectar of democracy as it slowly trickles down a mountain of cloaked tyranny. We sit, mouths open, jockeying for position, waiting for the next drop to splash on our parched tongues. Our thirst for justice remains unquenched, and our drive for freedom has lead us down dark and detoured paths…

Are we there yet?

Hell, where are we even heading?


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