I've had my fill on the topic of Don Imus. I've heard and read enough to see both sides of a fence that will probably never be mended.
This is bigger than Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson, or Jason Whitlock, or Don Imus, who's guilty only of restarting a fire that we can never seem to extinguish.
This is about looking in the mirror. More to the point, this is about who we see looking back at us.
I say this as a Black man: The notion that we can say what we want to one another, exploit our own, murder our own, and degrade our own gives everyone else the right to do the same.
I used to be of the belief that I could talk about someone in my family, but that anybody outside of my bloodline better not.
But where's the logic in that? If that person is right, he's entitled to his opinion, regardless of his color.
I'm against slurs that attack any race. But when we make a mockery of the struggles of those who have come before us, we open the door for the world to look at us and laugh.
Think of it like this: If you keep disrespecting yourself, it won't be too long before everyone else does the same.
The Black family has disintegrated before our very eyes. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a two-parent home. Although my father struggled with alcoholism in his later years, I still respected him as my father, not out of fear, but because he was Dad.
He never beat his wife or his children. He never blamed anyone for his shortcomings...not even the White Man.
When I entered junior high school, my parents decided to send me to a school in Northeast Philadelphia, a predominantly Jewish area, as part of a desegregation program. Their reason: They wanted to show me that there was more to life than North Philadelphia.
On one level, the move worked out wonderfully. I made more friends than I could count. I thought that I'd be one of only a handful of Black kids at the school, but there were others whose parents felt the same way as mine. I didn't feel so out of place after all.
Until I got home.
The worst part of my day came when I got back to my neighborhood, where my peers dismissed me as a 'white boy.' I'm a chocolate-brown brotha, and was deep-rooted in Public Enemy, Rakim, and KRS-ONE at the time. To hear that just tore the soul right outta me.
But I began to dig deeper into myself.
One day I was in the barbershop, and one of the barbers said I talked "like a white boy." I have a heavy baritone voice, which meant he could have only been alluding to one thing.
"Since when did speaking intelligently become a white attribute?"
Here's the truth: I can sit down with a thug and use street slang, and then walk into a professional interview or speak to a group of children without being any less of who I am.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X allowed me to engage with my feelings towards White America. Only the Bible has made a greater impact in my life; the story of Malcolm's transformation from a pimp, hustler, thief, and dope dealer into one of the greatest leaders in world history is one we can all learn from.
During my reading, I felt hatred towards Whites for what they did to Malcolm and other Blacks. At the same time, though, I knew that not all Whites were racist; many white advocates of racial equality were persecuted, hosed down, and even killed throughout the Civil Rights Era.
It's too bad incidents like the Imus flap make us forget about the many and focus on the few.
That said, I'm still an angry Black man. I'm angry because once again someone else had to hold the mirror to our faces to show us our self-inflicted wounds. I'm angry because Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are intent on putting out fires without doing anything to prevent them. I'm angry because Jason Whitlock wants to lay the blame at the feet of the rap industry, when the trouble really starts at home.
Our problems aren't going to be fixed anytime soon. The foundation needs to be completely rebuilt; Pride, Love, and Confidence need to be restored. We have to get back to basics, beginning with the family, because that's where accountability comes from.
Parents need to get back to being parents, and not friends of their children. When your approach is that of a peer, you'll be regarded as an equal instead of an authority. Communities need to take back their neighborhoods, through afterschool programs and recreational leagues. Religious leaders need to reassert themselves as architects of fellowship.
That preacher flaunting his luxury sedan on Sundays, is he leading his congregation, or pimping them?
Real shepherds are hard to come by.
Which brings me back to the beginning... at some point, you've got to take care of yourself. How to start? When you're looking in the mirror, ask yourself a simple question:
Am I doing to myself what I would want someone else doing to me?