“If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.” These words were written by the late Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was an African-American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study African-American history and became the founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1916. Therefore, if any man had a right to give advice and admonishment to the African-American culture, certainly he was one worthy of fulfilling that role.
We MUSTUnderstandthere are too many of our fellow African-American brothers and sisters blaming the White man for all of their problems and situations without taking into account the vices they have placed on themselves. I have said time and time again that we Africans living in America have come far but not far enough. The course of society has changed since the era that I came up with. As it is, our children are equipped with more resources and opportunities than that which those in my day had. However, sometimes having too many resources can serve as a handicap to people who are afraid to utilize them or just downright don’t want to change their circumstance.
My wife and I have operated as business owners for over 30-years, within that time we have had exposure to the likes of all types of personalities and characters. Throughout our experiences, we have realized that the African-American community is comprised of some of the most brilliant, highly-motivated and resilient people there is to find. On the contrary, we have also witnessed those who were lazy and wanted only what people would give them, with no desire to work for it. It is my belief that the latter of those are amongst individuals from within our communities who have no intent of rising above their circumstances.
As Carter G. Woodson conveyed in his book, The Mis-Education of the Negro this is the type of mentality that is crippling our communities and culture. He noted, “History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.” Too many of our children are being lost and left behind because there are those amongst us who refuse to get off of their a$$ and make things happen for themselves. We MUST Understand opportunities will not just fall out of the sky for us. We have to make them happen. In some cases, people will have sympathy but in most cases it’s every man and woman for his or her self.
I often share my own personal story to encourage young people that there is nothing stopping them from aspiring and achieving greatness. In 1950 I was diagnosed with Polio which left me with certain physical limitations. Back then, the teachers wanted to place me in special education classes. But, it was my father who refused to settle. He said, “Yes, there is something wrong with your leg, but there is nothing wrong with mind.” He also made that factor very clear to the teachers who made the suggestion of anything otherwise. So, instead of allowing my situation to cripple me I sought out various business ventures to occupy my mind and invest in myself. At the age of 13, I opened a woodworking shop. I was made fun of because of my color, I was talked about because of my impairment. But, deep down inside I never allowed anyone to infiltrate my mind with the idea or notion that they were better than me because I had a disability. I was always reminded of my father’s voice,“there is nothing wrong with your mind.” So, even though I had certain physical restrictions, I never allowed that to stagnate the ability of my mind. Therefore, I just want to encourage those from our community to never place limitation on yourselves and trust and believe that whatever your ailment or handicap is you have the power to overcome it – but first you have to empower your mind.
In closing, I would like to echo the lyrics of James Brown 1969 hit,“I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door, I’ll get it myself.”I encourage those from our communities to take heed to those words and the wisdom of the historic Carter G. Woodson. All we have to do is look within this current administration and it is not hard to tell that minorities are getting a raw deal out of government with Donald Trump as Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, it would behoove us to learn how to make and create opportunities for ourselves and our families.
Written by: Roy Douglas