When I was seventeen back in 1995 I wanted to go to the Million Man March but for whatever reason I couldn’t. I think my dad and I were supposed to go but something came up on his end, so as a sign of solidarity with my brothas I didn’t go to school that day. All I remember is watching the march on television thinking to myself ‘This is a great concept, but will it invoke true change?’
At the time I was no fool. I knew racism still existed and crime was high in predominantly black neighborhoods. I also knew that as a race we had plenty of outlets for expression like television and movies, but the greatest form of expression came from the music of that era.
As a young brotha I knew that having pride was very important. And since that time I have lived my life in this order:
Man. Black. Proud.
My blackness lends itself to my pride but my maleness makes me who I am as an individual. Everything else about me is the sum of my experiences, and one of the experiences I have always regretted was not being able to attend the original march twenty years ago.
On Saturday October 10 2015 I was given a chance to rectify that regret. And I must say that it is one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.
As I stood there listening to all of the speeches from an inspirational collective of brothas and sistahs with poignant messages I was reminded of two things;
- We are powerful, beautiful and incredible. Our lineage tells the true tale of resilience underneath a hackneyed narrative of slavery and subservience. The red and blue from our country’s flag represent the blood and tears of the slaves who built it, and the white represents the lie which hides the truth of how important we are to the founding of this nation.
- It has only taken twenty years for our pride to be swept underneath the rug of designer labels, European standards of beauty, inaudible music and a multitude of other things that chip away at the 24K gold our souls derive from.
It is so very necessary that we as individuals remind each other of how stellar we are. This country will never do that for us. Wealth and status do not make you a whole person.
Not by others, but by ourselves. The key to our light shining brightly once again will not come from things. Having “things” and holding them as what’s most important is what has led us to this place of misguided self-image. We no longer see the regal quality we possess. We see the facade of real niggas and bad bitches, and it is shredding our minds into confetti for a party that’s not being thrown for us.
If I learned anything from attending the Million Man March I learned that even after the hype has gone away and some people settle back into their old habits and ways of thinking that holds no weight on how I choose to let my light shine.
I have a voice and a purpose. And I will no longer be afraid of it.