A Position to Make a Difference
It is a wonderful gift to be in a position to make a positive difference in the lives of others. That’s a slightly modified quotation from Alicia Keyes in an American Express commercial with Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Scorsese, and other celebrities that’s airing on television. American Express is currently promoting an advertising campaign called the Members Project that’s designed to have people submit ideas for a charity project and the winning submission will get a five million dollar donation from American Express. But regardless of the promotion, the quotation moved me to think about people’s ability to make a difference in others.
A lot of people choose careers that are supposed to make a difference in other people’s lives on a daily basis. Teachers are supposed to teach those who are unaware. Doctors are supposed to take care of the sick. Police are supposed to protect the community from those who intend harm. Actors, singers, and musicians entertain and inspire other people with their talents. Each and everyday there are a lot of people who have the ability to make a difference. It is the philosophy of making a difference in the lives of others, for others, that makes a community a positive environment.
However, a lot of people, who are in the position to do something positive, would rather pass on having a community oriented spirit and would prefer to be more personally oriented. The problem with this arrangement is that when everyone is focused on the benefit of self, everyone else becomes an impediment or a rival in the competition to get as much as possible as quickly as possible. Whenever everyone else is considered the opposition then the community is no longer an arrangement of people working for a common goal but a collection of independent operators each with the own agenda.
In the current social environment of the United States many black communities have become very fragile entities, or totally broken altogether, that are totally inept at maintaining their integrity. And with so many people doing whatever they can to minimize their tax exposure too many struggling neighborhoods have to cut back on the type of services that keep a community desirable. Here in America, the less individual members have to share with the community at large, the more individuals covet another style of living that is not their own, the more people are ready to abandon the place of their birth, the easier it is for the community to fall into a dismal state.
Generally speaking the black community is in the most dismal state of existence of any community. Too many black people who are in the best position to help their brothers and sisters in the black community have given themselves completely to the lust for better neighborhoods, better neighbors, better spouses, better children, and a better way of being or living. More ethnic diversity and less black ethnicity runs directly contrary to the very survival of the black community.
Many people may not feel that the black community is worth saving. People would be willing to save the sanctuary of the striped spotted wooden beak red owl than save the black community for future generations of black people who prefer to keep black ethnicity strong and solid despite the overwhelmingly negative message constantly being broadcast in its various forms that says to black people and the public at large that the black community is far from being an integral component of American culture.
The contributions the black community in this country has made to the world at large have been minimized and dismissed. At one time the black community delivered more than its fair share of famous inventors, authors, and scientist. Now the black community is more famous for its entertainment from athletes, singers, and actors. True black intellectualism is somewhat limited to the colorful black intellects that evoke a somewhat negative emotion in white people such as political talking heads like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan. Black celebrities like Tavis Smiley, T.D. Jakes, and Cornell West who claim to have their finger on the pulse of the black community choose not to involve themselves in black issues from a perspective that may anger the white community.
But black intellectuals like Elaine Brown, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, or Mumia Abu-Jamal try to bring attention on the black condition but are rather small and limited voices compared to the big megalomaniacs who are constantly being hyped up by the news. The message from this relatively unknown group of black intellects is being drowned out by the constant wave of bad news regarding the black community bombarding the public. Black on black crime is out of hand and rising. Black athletes have the moral integrity of soggy cardboard. Black politicians are being investigated and arrested. Black rappers jockey for position in some sick competition to see who can be perceived as the biggest thug on some white corporation’s payroll. Black educational achievements are plummeting. Blacks are less qualified for employment. Does the public media recognize anything good coming out of the black community any more that doesn’t have anything to do with singing, dancing, athletics, and such?
Unfortunately, the media’s constant focus on the shortcomings of the black community is making a difference in the lives of people who live in the black community. However, the difference that the white dominated corporate media makes on behalf of the black community is far from being a positive one. It’s a beautiful thing when someone is in the position to make a positive difference in another person’s life. It is horrible to use a position of influence to make someone’s life, an entire community of people’s lives, more miserable than necessary.