Friday, March 14, 2014

Take A Look at Ourselves by Curtis Walker

We should ask ourselves this before we go on to ask anything else: How is it that we have come to be in such a pitiful state of being? Are we not, as Black men, of equal value to all other people? If we are of equal value how is it that, as human beings, we have degenerated to such conditions (mental and physical)? How is it that our very definition of manhood has become so entangled with physical expression? Are we really as we present ourselves to be: enemies of progress and productivity, enemies of our own selves and a burden on our families, where we should stand tall and proud as pillars and providers of those families and teachers of our children? What is our potential? Can we evolve to a higher level of consciousness, communication, and interaction? Can we save our­selves?
    How we've come to be in this condition is clear enough, as our devolution is part and parcel of American history itself. We must first be aware of the systematic emasculation of the Black male from the days of slavery, when he was denied his humanity in total, to the era of Jim Crow where he was being conditioned to accept that though he was indeed a man, he simply was not and never would be one of equal value with his white brethren. To subjugate a man, a man of any ethnicity, for such an extended period of time, is to plant the seed for that man's failure to reach his full potential.
The emasculation of the Black male by white society is not the cause of our current condition. We are. All of the tools necessary for us to raise ourselves above our current station, are now at our disposal. The main thing that we need to address is consciousness-raising: understanding our true worth, our true potential and our true purpose. Bringing ourselves to recognize that our fate is our own to command, that we must dictate it and that responsibility for our condition belongs to us alone. This would be a sign of our psychological and social maturity. Seeing that we can be an asset to our community would be a sign that we have really awaken to what our purpose is. It is too easy for us to look at the "man" and all of the things that he brings down upon us, as the actual cause for our woes. It is much harder for us to look at ourselves and see our own defects.
Responsibility: We must accept responsibility for our fate, collectively and individually. No one can provide for our needs
and security but us. We will have to acknowledge this and commit to improving ourselves to ensure our survival and the survival of the young bloods coming up after us, attempting to follow in our foot­steps and longing for guidance. No generation simply fails itself. It fails the next generation also. The failure of one makes it certain that the next one will stumble blindly and unprepared into a world that cannot understand them and is often hostile to the misguided aspirations of the young Black male.
Liberal laws will not keep us out of the prisons. Only our desire to survive in the form of true free men can keep us out of the many prisons and jails that have been prepared for us. Manhood is limited in prison by the tact that you cannot act freely and must submit in one way or another to the whims of an indifferent authority. By becoming incarcerated we surrender our primary responsibility to care for ourselves, our families and our community.
Freedom: "Free your mind" is a phrase that has become cliched to a degree that has stripped it of its meaning. Still, when considering freedom we must consider the condition of our minds. Freedom exist in many stages. Free in mind is the basic stage, without which regardless of whether we are physically free, we are bound. Being free in mind helps us put into context and deal with whatever comes our way, fortune or misfortune. Making ourselves mentally free requires us to put aside our hang-ups and fears, while embracing unrestrained imagination and possibility, along with brutally honest self-examination.
Freedom itself is not a luxury that is simply given to us. It is an ever-present possibility which we must seize by the force of our will and maintain with our actions. Not only is it the ability to come and go, speak or remain silent, but also the ability to
chart out your life's path on your own terms and pursue that path.
Love: Do we really lack the capacity to appreciate Love in its purest form: the love of a son for his parents, the love of a brother for his sisters and brothers, the love of a man for a woman? One of the greatest obstacles to the growth and development of our youth is the ability to give and receive love. The problems that this creates damages a young man's relationships with other people so much that it damages the essence of the present person and defines who he becomes, the type of man he becomes.
Love has many attributes but is itself an indefinable quality. Our attempts to describe it are often as unsuccessful as our attempts to find it. It is a large part of who we are, what we do and what we seek in life. It is that human desire to feel a part
of something, to feel needed, wanted and relevant. That need to be significant in the life of another so that your very existence is validated by someone else's placing of great value on your feelings and companionship. Without this we can lose that sense of our
worth and begin to devalue ourselves and others. This can define how we think and why we think what we think; our ability to relate to others; to empathize and sympathize, and limit our ability to feel and express our humanity. Love is also an essential part of our psychological health. It shapes and dictates our conscience.
So damaged are so many of us from youth, that seeking love and grasping for love becomes a dangerous endeavor. We seek it in the most harmful places, grasp for the most painful relationships
and embrace our harsh experiences as a true reflection of what love is. The result of it all are very emotionally immature and stunted men who communicate their feelings in the language that they have been taught: pain.
We often confuse these two, usually to our detriment. This weakness and vulnerability are sometimes used synonymously without an appreciation for what either really mean or what they represent in people, especially men. Both are naturally occurring attributes and can be an asset or liability, depending on how we address them and ultimately control them - or are controlled by them

Vulnerability of person is that which allows us to make real and honest contact with people, contact that reveals who we are to someone else (who we are being not only what the casual observer can see, but also what only can be seen by someone invited into our unspoken thoughts, our repressed emotions and our most profound passions). Vulnerability of person is also when we do not shield ourselves from ourselves, denying how we feel deep inside and what our minds explore subconsciously. It is the free shedding of hang-ups concerning race, gender and class, as opposed to an environmental shedding - that is to say that many of us play along with whatever environment we happen to be in by acting as others act without ridding ourselves of the thing that we feel is necessary to hide.

Weakness of character speaks more toward the defects in our character such as: the inability to face things as they are with­out retreating into a fantasized version of reality; the coward's refuge - wrapping ourselves in the comfort of timidity when bold­ness is required in order to exist(live) as we truly would like; lying to ourselves and others in order to be viewed in a light that does not reflect who we really are, but rather what we think others would like to see and what might cause them to accept us.

Our task then is to become fully self-aware individuals, aware of our place in relation to others and society while recognizing our responsibilities and potential. Another great obstacle that we must face is learning to act consciously - directing our thoughts and actions toward the results that we seek so that we are not just victims of circumstance and environment, but are masters of them. This requires us to always grow, even under extremely adverse conditions and learn the lessons from our experiences, good and bad.


Curtis Walker-El