No matter what is going wrong in the world, all you have to do is point to someone else, blame them and then go about your business pretending that you are simply a victim.
We see this in many areas, including the ever problematic generation gap.
Any of us with a working brain knows that today’s youth are failing to reach the mark set by previous generations, but unfortunately, yesterday’s generation is laying all of the blame at the feet of a generation that was largely abandoned and forced to find its own way.
Elders of any generation should have the right and privilege to criticize the youth. But when there is only criticism, and not much guidance to go along with it, that criticism will be soundly rejected.
Today’s youth hears from its elders about how foolish they are in the clothing, music and even when discussing issues.
The difference is that previous generations laid down a foundation, trained a generation and then moved out of the way, perhaps coming back alter to criticize.
The Civil Rights Generation wants to criticize today’s perspective. They didn’t offer to help create one, though. Yet, they want to trash an entire generation and still get respect just for being older.
Those days are gone.
Here’s a direct message to the first generation since slavery that allowed the following generations to be worse off:
I’ve tried to save the world and found that it didn’t need the savior I tried to be. It also didn’t care. I almost wasted my life trying to be something you claimed to have been, only to find out you never really tried to be that. Now, I’m just trying to save my life and make the best of it, before it’s too late.
Thank God I opened my eyes in time to make some kind of difference for someone else. I focus on the ones I can reach and hope that each one will teach one.
You made no difference individually, but based on the stories you tell, most of your generation marched with King, and the ones who didn’t knew Malcolm. The few left were Black Panthers. And if all that is true, why is there still no real legacy?
I’m not certain you should be talking too loud about your movement, when subsequently, you allowed two generations of blacks to be underdeveloped while a few elders and their spoiled children were overfed. In each succeeding generation since slavery, the children were better off than the parents. Yours marked the first generation where the children started being worse off than the parents.
You got your free education, your government job, a pass to the white neighborhoods and then what did you give your children? Permissiveness, but no discipline; your version of history, but no sense of legacy; book sense, but no common sense; big churches, but no moral guidance; freedom of speech but nothing to say; sexual freedom, but no sex education to protect against unwanted pregnancies or instructions for living in a world with AIDS; too much fast food, but no physical education; a big house, but an empty home and nice clothes to feel but no love to touch. Now you’re upset because your son called you his Nigger.
As an absentee parent, you can’t say anything about the result of children you didn’t raise–literally and/or figuratively, because while divorces are more popular, marriages are less likely. We don’t know how to talk to each other, but thanks to you, we’ve learned how to talk about each other based on what things we have or don’t have; divergent politics we won’t act on or how well off some of us are, even though some of us can’t eat.
Someone said that the Sixties were over and you simply walked away from the movement–just because they said it was passe. Now you want to pump your chest out like you were Malcolm. He’s dead and you are irrelevant.
You knew that “window dressing” was a sham when you saw the five Negroes with company jobs, the ten Negroes on television and the scores of Negroes running and jumping and dancing as though we were all going to share the wealth. We didn’t share anything, but you stopped talking about the window at all when you got your company job, or placed your face on the television or danced your dance.
You knew when the Mafia brought “Horse” into Harlem that it would change the game for your people. But today, you blame young Black gangsters for killing their own people as though they flew drugs right into the ghettos. Why didn’t you stop the crack and automatic weapons from being dumped in Compton, Harlem and the Fifth Ward in the early Eighties, or at least warn us about what would happen?
You knew that separate but equal was pure nonsense when Thurgood Marshall shoved it up Whitey’s colon, but when you separated your family from the ghetto, so that you could be equal, you didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Now you pretend that the playing field really is level and that the people you left behind are just weak.
You peep back into the ghetto to discover that, left to their own devices, today’s youth are doing exactly what you did before the movement–they are doping and gangbanging, studying and entertaining, struggling and surviving their way deeper into or further out of a maze that no one left a map to.
You couldn’t wait to move near the same racists who spat on you. The sad part of it all is that you now hate your people more than the racists ever did.
You reaped the benefits of those before you and are now defecating on the inheritance of those after you. To be honest, you’re lucky we don’t push you down the slippery slope you’ve left us on. Since we haven’t done that, the least you could do is shut up.
But you won’t shut up. You want to be on television and stand out front, even though you are now frightened, old and toothless. And you want us to respect you, even though you have sold us out and failed us, and you want to berate me for not doing things your way.
Any idiot savant knows that a movement is only as strong as its youth. And since this nation has been abandoning, condemning and underdeveloping youth for two generations, there is no wonder that today’s youth appear insane. But no matter who you rage against, you should never attack young people who may be misdirected. You should instead defend their right to be naive, because in their beautiful naivete, they may figure a way out of a mess left to them by weak, arrogant fools who romanticize about a movement that virtually stopped moving.
In every corner of our society, walking anachronisms are leading our churches, our fraternities and sororities, the NAACP and the Urban League– institutions initially launched by youth, yet now lead by senior citizens of the Sixties who refuse to retire or develop their heirs.
Your movement is no longer moving.
So, here’s what I plan to do: Try to work and make the world a better place for those who have to come behind me. If someone under thirty speaks with genuine passion, I listen and try to understand instead of stomping on their hopes and dreams–no matter how misguided. I try to guide and then get the hell out of the way.
Instead of embellishing the memories of my generation and their time, which will be over sooner than I’d like, I’m romanticizing about the future of my eighteen year old nephew and his generation of beautiful young soldiers who have not yet learned about broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, even though they are rapidly learning about weakness and arrogance from you.
Unlike you pompous jackasses leftover from the fringes of the Civil Rights Movement, the most I can do is contribute what I can, then move and shut the hell up when they need me to.
You failed to teach me what to do, so the best I can do is avoid becoming you.
Someone once said that people have to lead, follow or get out of the way. Your movement is over.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected]