Where are "our" leaders?
After Martin. After Malcolm. After Nina. After Nelson. After Mya. After Barack.
Who's going to stand up? Millennials are constantly critiqued. The Black Lives Matter Movement is scrutinized and questioned. The generation before mine has shunned us, but forgot they are they one's who raised us. As a 30-something Black woman on a mission to make a difference, I feel stuck between the past and the present: My elders reign on thrones until death - they don't retire, fail to create successors, and pass torches with flame already snuffed out. My "senior saints" still engage in Respectability Politics and disregard my generation for things as trivial like the way we wear our hair or our style of dress... as if they forgot Martin was killed wearing a suit and a tie.
Let that sink in. Then there are my peers, some of whom are lost... trying to find our way either through education, the "alleged" great equalizer and wading through cliques, Greek affiliations, networking circles, etc. only to feel like we are spinning wheels. Too many are drowning in the pool of propaganda. I talk to people everyday who have not yet come to the conclusion that social media isn't real, jealous of lifestyles that don't exist instead of using it as a tool to transcend beyond the trash of celebrity gossip, airing their dirty laundry, and keeping up with so-called "reality TV". I am one who believes there will not be one solitary voice to rise above the echoes but many voices, calling out atrocities, social injustice, and economic inequality. It will be and is a culmination of collective voices spanning generations. There was a voice during the Super Bowl Half-Time show. There was a voice during the Grammy Awards. There were voices that walked graduation platforms last month. There are voices on Black Twitter, on blogs, on podcasts, on YouTube. There are voices in courtrooms, in class rooms, and in prison cells.
Just like Blacks are NOT the monolithic group experiencing poverty, kill our own kind, abuse the system... The Black Voice raging against the machine is not and will not be monolithic. We Out Here. (improper grammar used for affect)
We are authors, actors, parents who reprimand our children when they do wrong. We are students, teachers, council/borough/school board representatives. We are nonprofit and for profit entrepreneurs. We are volunteers and advocates. And we happen to be between the ages of 18 and 36.
Yesterday, another impassioned voice shared with the masses a definitive message: "We're done.... We're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us." This is a familiar voice. Jesse Williams, Temple University graduate, former teacher, now acclaimed actor (might as well mention heartthrob) ushered in an uninterrupted mic drop at the 2016 BET Awards as he was recognized for his activism and herald as a true Humanitarian. The cable network known as Black Entertainment Television while inundating us with unhealthy representations of the Black experience, has also been honoring Humanitarians since 2002. Each year the BET Humanitarian Award is given to a celebrity philanthropist who donates their time and money to a charitable cause. Along with Jesse Williams are: Tom Joyner, 2015; Myrlie Evers-Williams, 2014; Dwyane Wade, 2013; Al Sharpton, 2012; Steve Harvey, 2011; John Legend, 2010; Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean, 2009; Quincy Jones, 2008; Don Cheadle, 2007; Harry Belafonte, 2006; Denzel and Pauletta Washington, 2005; Danny Glover, 2004; Earvin "Magic" Johnson, 2003; and Muhammad Ali, 2002.
The Grey's Anatomy actor clearly meets the criteria for such an award. The Advancement Project is a National Civil Rights think tank and advocacy group where Williams is its youngest member. As executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, Williams uses multi-media to challenge and address the Black male identity and promote dialog on the topic which includes men from economically diverse backgrounds and experiences. He has written articles for The Huffington Post. He has also been a guest commentator on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room which airs on CNN. Williams was one of many who stood with thousands in Ferguson, Missouri after the unarmed shooting of Michael Brown.