I used to catch the bus from my Austin neighborhood to Malcolm X College on the near West Side.
I traveled at night east on Jackson Boulevard where Rockwell Gardens once stood. Much like the other housing projects, “The Rockwells” were known for different gangs vying for more territory in order to dominate the drug trade in the area, which often resulted in numerous homicides of the intended targets as well as innocent bystanders.
Upon getting to school, there were the Henry Horner Homes – with the same reputation – towering over the soundtrack of the squealing el.
At times the bus would break down between these terrifying scenes.
I was never that worried; truth is, I knew some people at home on the block who had my back.
These same people created safe passage for me to travel with relative ease between two different worlds. In one world, I could hang prepositional phrases and drop the g’s from words, while at school I was working to master the king’s English.
They had a stake in my destiny with the firm belief that I would one day reach back.
And I will, but the journey is not over, nor is the destination reached.
I need you to keep believing in me amid the controversy, in light of unpopular decisions, in lieu of what you deem silence in the midst of heated conversations. I did not get here alone, and I cannot forget the sacrifices you have made on my behalf.
No, I’m not the president of the United States of America, but this was the message I got after watching his speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual award dinner on Youtube.com.
He did drop g’s, felt a little more comfortable with the audience he was addressing and received cheers for urging black people to stop complaining.
This past week I have been embattled between my personal politics and my concern for social justice. I was discouraged that President Obama failed to give remarks on what grew to be a mainstream issue in the Troy Davis case, yet pleaded for a stay of execution for another inmate.
An issue came up involving the Congressional Black Caucus, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters along with Cornel West and Tavis Smiley seemingly taking shots at the current administration with little mention of the eight years and two wars that aided in creating this predicament. They speak as if blacks weren’t disproportionately uneducated, convicted, jailed or unemployed before now.
We will still have these same concerns two presidents from now.
I don’t pretend to agree with every foreign or domestic policy set forth by the Obama administration. I believe he should be scrutinized or corrected “out of love,” as Dr. West has said before. Conversations of accountability to every race should take place.
But give me the name of another contemporary black man who has reached the pinnacle of what the Civil Rights Movement stood for.
All I’m saying is that the glue that has always kept the black community afloat despite different experiences or in the course of the “disintegration of the black experience” – a term I read in a book by Eugene Robinson – is that we won’t leave you hangin’!
It is the same sense of camaraderie I feel with a black woman from New Jersey who recently moved here just to study for her master’s degree at Loyola University Chicago, leaving everything back East.
Traveling to and from Malcolm X College was made possible by those who had my back. They may ask where my education will take me. They make jokes about me marrying a white woman; they criticize my vernacular and make me question what I am fighting for.
But when it’s all said and done, whenever I need anything, they have my back. And I have theirs!