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(I originally posted this on facebook but I decided to repost on here.)
In reading some other notes by several other Howard students, I've come
to realize that we all think the same thoughts but the difference is in
the actions subsequent. In waxing philosophic about the merit of
action, it brings me back to the same notions of leadership and who
gets the credit. At the end of the day most of us, people that is, want
to be appropriately acknowledged for our contributions and like the
limelight despite our faux modesty. I know I get upset when people
don’t comment because it people don’t comment how do you know whether
are not people are reading what you wrote and whether it’s having any
impact or adding something unique to the discussion. No thoughts are
original just their context. I’m digressing a bit though.
I want to salute all the collegiate activists out there who are
fighting for their beliefs and actively working to make a difference in
the world. You may be asking yourself what makes someone a college
activist and am I one. Well, here’s a simple test. Do you make it a
mission to a principled life? Are you of service to others? Are you in
college? Do you think that your degree isn’t just for you but for the
world? If you can honestly answer yes to those questions, then I’m
talking about you. I see myself as an activist because I am actively
attempting to make the world a better place. I’m not going to list the
programs I work for now and have worked for in the past because that
stuff doesn’t mean much at the end of the day when you’re lying in bed
looking up at the ceiling recounting your day. I know plenty of people
who are simply pretending to care or be interested in social causes
while serving self.
What I have observed is that there are a lot of college activists
out there on this campus, mostly women; but that we all belong to our
own groups and sects and cliques and that there is no cohesiveness. For
those who remember The Movement, it was an interesting of example of
the potential for effectiveness that can be harnessed on this campus.
As mixed as the results were in the end, in the building process, it
brought out people from a variety of different organizations and
cliques, gay, straight, religious, deeply secular, non-Black, social
climbers, campus office holders, greeks, greek-haters, etc. I think
that it shows that we are all in this thing for the same cause, change.
We all recognize that there certain fundamental wrongs in the world
that go beyond our prejudices. As I mentioned in another note, is that
the challenge of leadership, especially Black leadership is showing
others that you are serious about what you are talking about. Effecting
real change takes an unquestioned, unshakable faith in the goal that
you are moving toward. I don’t think that overall goal was made clear
in the Movement, beyond that the diversity of opinion that was
available wasn’t readily made available, often because of feelings that
were unknowingly hurt or slighted.
The key to serving others is humility, letting your pride take a
backseat to the larger goal. Black people here in America have had to
scratch and claw for the pride that they do have and have been taken in
by Eurocentric beliefs in individualism, making unity next to
impossible. In the bible, Jesus talks about the three kinds of soil.
The first kind of soil is so hard and dry that there’s no way anything
can grow. The second kind of soil is softer and the seed appears to
take root but there are all sorts of rocks and weeds in the soil that
keep it from growing. The third kind of soil is that “just right” soil,
when the seed is planted it takes root, germinates, grows and blooms.
I’m not the most religious man in the world but it sounds to me like
the Black community is a lot like that second kind of soil. We want to
have faith but we allow the weeds and rocks of doubt to choke the life
out. It’s wayyy past time to the weeds and to move on. Yes, it’s easier
said than done but since when has anything worth come without struggle
So now, to bring this full circle, the life of a collegiate
activist is cluttered with preoccupations of passions vs. school vs.
work. There are only 24 hours in the day, how we choose to spend them
determines who we are. Change is not fueled by one voice at full throat
but by a choir joining in harmony to tear down the walls of injustice.
That’s why networking and coalition-building now are so vital. So I
urge each of us to step out from behind the labels and just do the
work. If you can’t ride the train to freedom, at least help lay down
the track. That is our challenge; that is our duty; that is our cross