Have we black Americans become so woke that we are weak?
I grew up reading about strong black Americans whom even the slave lash couldn't break. Men who took 39 stripes numerous times on their leathered backs. Those were not ordinary men, because those scarred backs were strengthened by faith in God and self-worth, with an unflinching determination for their fellow man to see them as God sees them.
When white baseball fans called Jackie Robinson n-----, he did not run off the field and go home! He withstood everything thrown at him. When Hank Aaron received death threats for getting too close to Babe Ruth's home run record, he didn't quit swinging. Hammering Hank launched 41 homers beyond the 714 achieved by the Great Bambino.
Those two black men faced indisputable racism but refused to buckle, run, hide, or whine. Even in those tumultuous days, blacks were granted a reprieve from continuous racism. These days, far too many black Americans perceive racism in just about everything and everyone who isn't black. While real racism is less fashionable in the 21st century, imaginary racism has reached the point of paranoia.
As I approach my 70th year, I can hardly believe the changes I've witnessed in my life. We have gone from willing to face evil to unwilling to face much of anything. From believing that we will overcome to believing that we can't. From fighting segregation to segregating ourselves. From being proud Americans to claiming that America is racist and irredeemable. We have gone from demanding equality to projecting superiority and, with that, the unrecognized transfer of the racist mantle to ourselves.
Our ancestors paid too high a price to obtain equality for us to cheapen their sacrifice with cowardice, pride, and mental weakness. Martin, Medgar, and Malcom did not run from the fight, but paid the full price we seem unwilling to pay. Many blacks today are running not only from the real fight, but from imaginary ones as well. Instead of standing, they are cowering, whining, and worrying too much about how some perceived white racist feels about them. Is this the legacy we are to leave our children? Those are not the examples our forefathers left us.
Is one of the tenets of wokeism to push the black man into a cycle of continuous self-doubt and rearview thinking? Is the black man relegated to a perpetual state of mental slavery, always fighting a real or imagined white demon? How can anyone carry such a burden?
Our forefathers paved the attitude we must have to please God and gain the respect of our fellow man. If by our moral standing we do not gain their respect, our example will illuminate their faults and reveal our honorable representations for all to see. Shall we be seen as a people perpetually lost, seeking to recapture ground already seized, or a people that neither illusory nor real enemies can hold back?
I for one refuse to grant racism, real or imagined, control of my attitude toward others. I refuse to allow sins of the past or differences in pigmentation to misshape my perceptions of any man. I serve God alone. The Bible is my guide, and Jesus is Lord of all.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love his brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister (1 John 4:20-21).
As for me, I will place my trust in God and obey Jesus. I will love my brother, whether he loves me or not, because that is God's will. I will stand erect, looking back only long enough to emulate the examples left for me, and forward enough for those who follow to see the path of faith, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Samuel E. Tolley III, retired CPM©, B.A., M.A. in theology, speaker, and author. firstname.lastname@example.org.