Note: Originally posted to Jeffery A. Faulkerson's blog, A POSITIVE LIGHT: Discovering the Good within the Black Diaspora (http://apositivelight.blogspot.com/).
No one ever said being black in America would be easy. And on Monday, August 25th, I discovered just how true this statement can be.
Five days earlier, I had received two wristbands from a representative with the "i am the black community" company (http://www.myspace.com/iatbc/). The wristband is nothing more than a piece of black plastic, with "i am the black community" written across it in white lettering, but I have only removed it from my wrist twice since receiving it. No, the wristband is not a prerequisite for the assertion of my blackness. It does, however, serve as a reminder that I am something more than what the mainstream media says about me.
My most recent discovery occurred during a chance encounter that caused me to question the political correctness of wearing the wristband. The setting was the lobby of a local automobile dealership, and a white man respectfully asked me about the wristband's significance. His question caught me offguard, but I told him that it promoted black pride, unity. He then said he needed to get one for his 24-year-old daughter because "she hates white people."
My first inkling was to ask him why his daughter hated members of her own race, but I left it alone. I reluctantly chuckled with the man as I ushered my son into the backseat of the car. But the man's statement was somewhat insulting to me. He equated black pride and unity with black hatred of white people.
I don't wear the "i am the black community" wristband because I hate white people. I wear it to let persons of all races know that being black is more than just being an athlete or entertainer. It's about being who you are in the moment, someone who is making positive contributions to the society at large through righteous words and deeds.
Some people would probably argue that because the wristband doesn't cater to other members of the human race, it is a ploy to keep us divided along racial/ethnic lines. I beg to differ. Most Whites don't have a clue about what it means to be born with black skin. The same is true about black people, that we don't know what it means to be born in white skin. But one thing that is universally known about white people's skin is it gives them the kind of privilege that makes it easier to acquire material wealth and prestige. And this privilege often gives them the audaciousness to tell other racial/ethnic groups how they should think and feel about themselves.
Granted, we Blacks have a choice about what we wish to believe. I tend to believe that every member of the human race is favored by God. We are his children, created in his likeness. For this reason, I would much rather be wearing a wristband that says "i am the human race". But such a wristband has yet to be introduced into the market. Why, you ask? Because many white Americans continue to believe that the hopes, dreams and aspirations of their black American siblings are different from their own.
We Blacks want to be treated with respect and dignity. We also want to hear more conversations among Whites about our many contributions to the society at large. Stop thinking that every black person in America is a rapper or baller. More of us are doctors, lawyers and social workers. And like Whites, we work 9-5 jobs to keep food on the table, to keep clothes on our backs, and to acquire the best education for our children.
We are the black community, and we have much to say about who we are. And if you're White, and I just so happen to walk past you with my black "i am the black community" wristband on, ask me about it. Hopefully, I'll be able to offer a better response, one that is more reflective of my experiences as a black American male.
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