Just had the conversation with a friend yesterday about how the notion and idea of assimilation, especially for Black people, is over. I don’t discount the positive results of it, but it can no longer be the goal. The highest symbol of assimilation’s success in America would be the office of the presidency, but that alone – and the optics of it – were enough to break open and pour peroxide on the unattended wounds racism has left on this country.
As a former idealist, I left the idea of “fighting” for democracy in my 20s when I saw first-hand the realities of the systems in which we participate without acknowledging the truths that sustain them. They are ugly and powerful and I really don’t know if we the people can affect it in the way we – or I – once hoped. The resistance to our success of playing by the rules was built over the past 8 years and brought us to Trump – and of course, to a new set of rules.
But, I am a firm believer that the next chapter in this arc is to truly focus on building and strengthening our communities, be they neighborhood, geographic, economic, issues-based, and/or online and understand that with that strength, as they grow and becomes self-sustaining, the ability to then place, engage and shift the will of our political leaders and our larger institutions are more viable and possible.
This actually is not a new concept to me or really to anyone else I’m sure – my time with Generation Engage (http://abcn.ws/2jSHImK) was really all about that, with politics being only a piece of the pie, but a strong self identity and the will to build and partner and do the work being a part of what being in a “democracy 365” was all about. Protests are poignant moments, being and having firsts are great starting points, arguing until our brains hurt make us feel like we’ve done our good for the day, but building and contributing to self-sustaining institutions that are fair and just, and that affirm and value who we are are as humans, are what I believe will see us through.
I’ve accepted that we are truly in the long-game now, emotional highs are great, but are not enough. And I want to learn, contribute and share as much as I can on what that means for me and for the communities of which I am a part. Our institutions are the most viable parts of those communities and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, former director of my favorite place and a shining example of what these institutions can become at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, discusses this with more depth and eloquence than I’ve yet to see. Worth a read, a share and a send.
Read the full article here.