Living in a Black No-Man's Land

There are many narratives that define the Black experience in America in this 2nd decade of the 21st century. Our striving over the centuries of our sojourn in this nation is a tapestry of every human experience -- oppression, enslavement, forced assimilation, dehumanization, exclusion, segregation, isolation, struggle, perseverance, achievement, excellence, celebration, mourning, despair, progress, setbacks, lynching, assassination, genocide, terror, self-hatred, low esteem, pride, performance, and a certain measure of success for some of us.

As we strive to maximize the benefit of living in "the most progressive nation on the planet," our progress is thwarted repeatedly at every turn. Some of us achieve extraordinary success, and many who follow the same path are met with fierce opposition. We teach our children the same lessons: obey the law, respect authority, study and work hard, follow the rules. Yet, our strivers are frustrated from within our community and without. How then, must we prepare our young men for a better future?

When challenged with the headwinds of life, only persistence prevails. We must maintain faith in our ability to overcome. We must gird ourselves with education, courage, and skills to navigate the pathways of the 21st century. We still must be twice as good to succeed. Only excellence is good enough. Our forefathers endured unthinkable pain and suffering. Throughout our sojourn, we have striven for freedom and progress, overcome setbacks, and built a legacy of excellence, overcoming insurmountable odds. Our journey forward still faces the dual legacies of racism and white privilege. Yet we must still persist in our quest for progress.

We have pioneers and leaders like Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Granville Woods, Marcus Garvey, A. Phillip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Barack Obama. We have excelled in every sphere of human endeavor. The 21st century holds more promise only if we persist.

We must help our young Black men to prepare themselves with education, skills, character, and the will to reach their full potential. The opportunities we have here are greater than anyplace else in the world. We are the vanguard of the Diaspora. We must "teach them well and let them lead the way."

Together, we can make this no-man's land a place of promise for future generations. Yes we can!