I have been going over these thoughts in mind for several days now, and as we celebrate the many facets of our Black History I decided this would be a critical dialogue to initiate. I first decided to share my thoughts on this topic with a close friend of mine, I asked her “Why I Bear the Weight.” She responded “what are you talking about.” I told her, when people of our ethnicity are caught in the wrong, why do I feel “weighted down.” The more I talked about it, the clearer it became and I knew this was an important piece to write about.
Despite what one may believe, there is a sense of family amongst the African American race and it reaches back to the days in our history when our ancestors were enslaved. They recognized that everyone was not biologically related but there was a common thread shared through slavery. During this extremely tragic period everybody looked out for each other; felt responsible, as well as, answerable for the actions of one another. That feeling of responsibility still rings true for some, still today. I personally experience disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, and irritated when “my people” are doing wrong, but I also feel joyful, elated, and triumphant when “we” do well. When I have those feelings of disappointment and irritation, it is usually because I know the behavior “my people” are engaging in, reflect negatively on many levels, and this continues to perpetuate the perception of the ongoing stereotype that “we” are aggressive, violent thugs oh, and the self deprecating phrase “they are ghetto”.
We know all too well, when the news media gives an account of a bank robbery, or an attack and the suspect is a black man or men who are the assailants, we want to, and I know I do, grab the microphone and say “I am so sorry.”
There is no doubt in my mind “we” are better than that and we have black Americans who demonstrate that every day, but yet “I Bear the Weight” of those who have not arrived in a “better” place. I celebrate when I hear about persons who have graduated from college, male or female, those who have become professionals, and entrepreneurs. Yes, I stand a little taller and prideful as if they were my own flesh and blood because there is instilled in me that sense of family that cannot be concealed or denied.
I do not write this piece to disgrace or diminish anyone among the black American culture, but more to remind us from where we began. When I look around and too often see police officers stopping a black man and cuffing him; my heart sinks and my head drops down because in that moment, “I Bear the Weight.” Understandably, there have been many incidents of late, that are injustices and the individual has not done anything wrong, but right now, I am addressing those incidents based upon just cause. Somewhere inside of me I make that familial association, that could be my brother or my son being escorted down to the county jail, but by grace it is not. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, because I don’t merely keep driving and release it with no true regard. I carry it and grieve over it as if it were my brother or my son and wonder where it went wrong and just maybe, could I be a person to make a difference. There is an important need for the acceptance of “I am my brother’s keeper” and many days I wear it and bear it, but at the heart of it all, I cannot be responsible for what another person may choose to do, regardless of his/her ethnicity.
As I examine our black females struggling to be single mothers out of wedlock with multiple children by multiple men, and genuinely no concept of raising children, I feel sad and on some level ashamed, but I cannot be responsible for every black female in America – can I? In that instance I understand the significance of being a mentor and sharing my story with others so they can rise above. It is not that I desire for anyone to be like me, but it is my hope that they be better than me.
Our experiences whether good or bad can make the difference in someone making a good decision or one that will take them down a path that ends badly. We often choose not to get involved when we see bad behavior or we hear something that is inappropriate. We live in a world that has become dangerous and unpredictable; how does one help when we fear to speak up? I will leave you to ponder that question.
What I know to be true is, I love deep and that love extends outside of those I share my blood line with and for that reason “I Bear the Weight.” Perhaps there is something in this writing that will help awaken others and we as individuals can try harder to be a better example and to be more compassionate and give of our time, each one teach one, if you are not already doing so. Whether it is a family member who has gone astray or someone we don’t know personally, we can and we do make a difference. I see my face in the face of others who walk in the same skin that I am in and I am empathetic to the troubles which they have been charged. Maybe I have written this piece to give myself permission to bear the weight of those of my ethnic group and reflect on how I can make a difference. I hope that this message gives you pause and leaves you with the inspiration to shape the minds and lives of others.