Monday, January 05, 2009

A lesson from black immigrants

An interesting article talking about the backgrounds of the President-elect, the federal Attorney General-designate Eric Holder, and former General Colin Powell.
While each of them have very different backgrounds and compelling stories that brought them to this point in history, it is worth exploring what their immigrant heritage and outstanding accomplishments mean for African-Americans who descended from slaves.

Whether from Mozambique or Mexico, Iran or Italy, those who choose to cast their lot on a move to America do so in hopes of providing a better life for themselves and their families. Yet what’s seen as the Land of Opportunity for some is viewed as a perpetual nightmare by others.

In the African-American community, we often give too much power to fear and hate mongers and not enough credit those who rally to defeat them. We overrate prejudicial institutions and their racist defenders and undervalue the strength that lies within us to overcome life’s obstacles.

Our mothers, fathers and grandparents are reluctant to give us firsthand accounts of their experiences in the Jim Crow South. That’s because the focus tends to be on the indignities they suffered rather than the fortitude they showed in prevailing over government-sanctioned discrimination.

I remember asking my late grandmother which of her ancestors was held in slavery or whether she knew how her family got to America. Her answer was always the same: “None of my people was slaves or from Africa. My people come here from Tennessee.” Even as a fourth-grader, I realized this could not be true.

It turns out that her maternal grandfather, Jack Woodard, was held in slavery in Tennessee until he was 15 and the Civil War ended. My great-great grandfather could not read or write, and yet he managed to relocate his family to Fannin County, Texas, where he purchased a 16-acre farm. He achieved much more than his background or circumstances would have dictated.

That is the same type of story of hard work and success you hear every day from immigrant families – but is all but forgotten in the annals of African-American history.
So are black folks more willing to fall for this idea that it's better to collapse or complain about the racist barriers in America instead of finding ways to break them down? Or better yet finding ways to rise above these barriers by excelling in our personal lives? Or perhaps this is a result of seeking table scraps instead of seeking out more than simple scraps?

By scraps I mean handouts. Are blacks wedded to simple handouts whether these are in the forms of welfare or affirmitive action? What do you think?

Via MyUrbanReport!

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