As I watched television on Martin Luther King’s birthday (January 15), I noticed an advertisement depicting a Black wife, a White husband, and their child. This advertisement follows a so-called controversial advertisement for Cheerios with a Black father, a White mother, and their child. I am of the age when we saw so few Blacks on television, and when we did, all activity in the house stopped to watch. We all watched Dianne Carroll play “Julia” and then there was “Good Times” with JJ, and then, of course, later “The Cosby Show” where we all discovered that there were families where Blacks were professionals.
We shout out when an Oprah doesn’t get a nod for an Oscar for “The Butler”. We question how “Saturday Night Live” has no Black females in their regular lineup. Then, a few weeks later they find one Black female that the world didn’t know. The politics of being Black in this country of opportunity requires us to show up, pay attention, stand up for equality, and speak up for justice.
While all these visible advances are going on, North Carolina and other states are trying to prevent Blacks from voting. They are also preventing North Carolina from having a congressman. When Congressman Mel Watt, the first Black person elected to Congress from Carolina in ninety years, was appointed to a position in the Obama administration, the governor said there will be no special election until November. This sets up an unconstitutional taxation without representation situation.
The Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court comes to my mind. We all know that the Dred Scott decision said that there are no rights that a Black man has that a White man must honor. This state of mind is still in the minds of White Americans who are the children of those who spit on, cursed at, and ‘sicked’ the dogs on Blacks seeking to exercise their rights. There are people who say they believe in the First Amendment Right for Free Expression, and the right to vote, and equal education, yet they want the right to determine who can exercise these rights. This is amazing to me.
The other thing that is amazing to me is that young people and their families have a right to a free education that can take them from poverty to privilege, and yet they squander the right. A January 13, 2014 article in the “New York Times” by columnist Paul Krugman, entitled “Enemies of the Poor,” says that the “Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm had they won the 2012 election.” The article spell out denial of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, slashing unemployment benefits and education financing.
Knowing that these enemies are out there, it is amazing that people are not taking advantage of free education and the right to vote as long as it is available. What will you do if these rights are taken away? Will you be the person standing on the corner with a sign saying, “Will work for food”? Or worse.
Parents, your job has just begun when junior comes out of the womb. Now you have to feed, clothe, and provide an education for that product of your lovemaking. It’s up to you to make sure that you provide a good life, good example, and an education, because even though times seem good today, there are people who are working on taking back all the rights you have gained.