The struggle of blacks, for most of the past 400 years, has been for social equality.In “The Future of the Negro,” Frederick Douglass wrote in 1884, “The tendency of the age is unification, not isolation; not to clans and class, but to human brotherhood.”
Last week, I wrote to the whole student body about the necessity of integration at TCU. This week, I want to specifically encourage black students on campus to be proactive in expressing themselves to a largely ignorant campus.
After ages of dashed hopes, bloody war, mad prophets and heroic martyrs, our forefathers secured the rights many of us take for granted today. I say that because there seems to be a spirit of resignation, or self-separation, among blacks in the culture at large.
I was recently reading an article from 1971 in Ebony magazine, a periodical targeted toward a black audience. I noticed how the advertisements were promoting not just products, but a utopian vision of social equality as well. It was as if the advertisers wanted to use any means necessary to keep the goal of integration at the forefront of the reader’s mind. Needless to say, the same social vision is noticeably absent in the more recent editions of the magazine.
I don’t know when integration ceased to be a goal of our community nor why, exactly, it did cease.
Perhaps there comes a time when you stop trying to appeal to people who don’t want you around. Perhaps blacks were unwilling to put up with the mockery of their culture or the ignorance of those who “wouldn’t understand because it’s a black thing.” I acknowledge and understand these possibilities, but somehow I feel as if we are doing our forefathers a great disservice. Their goal wasn’t “separate, but equal,” but full membership in the family of mankind.
In “The Souls of Black Folk,” a collection of essays and sketches, W.E.B. DuBois wrote, “Only by a union of intelligence and sympathy across the color-line in this critical period of the Republic shall justice and right triumph.”
Those words were written more than a century ago, yet it seems that many in the black community are retreating from that bold stance.
The black community has a lot to offer to the world. It has more to offer than exploited women in music videos. The only way, however, that the rest of the world will see the other side is by bringing it out into the open. As stated in Matthew 5:14, “…for a city on a hill cannot be hid.”
A minority group cannot isolate itself and expect its culture to be understood and appreciated by the outside world. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to social issues – just look at New Orleans.
The black community cannot sit back and let those who are ignorant of it dictate who its people are and what they believe. Instead, blacks must show them who the black community is and its beliefs.
So continue the struggle for that which our forefathers lived and died fighting for – full integration into power and influence.
Our forefathers were dreamers, and it is only those who dream the most impossible dreams who see the most improbable results.
The black community at TCU is small, but that does not mean its voice has to be. Blacks have a chance to reveal a side of their community that the outside world never knew existed. But the only way that can take place is if blacks, in a small way, fulfill the dream the forefathers dared to dream all those years ago.
Erick Raven is a first year graduate student in the school of education from Grand Prairie.