Make 2020 our 20/20

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

This year marks the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery. It also marks the end of the first score of the 21st century. 2020 should become a clarion call, like perfect 20/20 vision, as the year when every descendant of an enslaved African clearly visualizes their road to success based on their own personal accountability.

America has never been perfect. For the descendants of enslaved Africans, the "Make America Great Again" slogan has never been our reality. But even for those who do embrace that slogan as reality, to become the country that America is, it had to fight numerous brother-brother (BB) wars. The American Revolution (1775-1783) had the 13 British colonies fighting against their relatives in Great Britain for independence. The first person to die at the beginning of that war? Crispus Attucks, a black man. The War of 1812 was another BB war: the USA vs the United Kingdom (Great Britain and her allies). The greatest BB war was the Civil War, Union soldiers in the North vs Confederate soldiers from the South. America established slavery. America ended slavery. Although only four months in length, the Spanish-American War of 1898 between Spain and America ended Spain's colonial rule in the Americas, gave us Puerto Rico as a territory and is another notch on the BB war belt.

Through all those conflicts, the lives and blood of black America ran as deep as anyone else who makes claims to it. The majority of the descendants of enslaved Africans have no desire to be anywhere else but here. So as we move into the next decade in our adopted country, it is time we embrace America as our own and move forward. 

As we take those first steps forward in our 2020-20/20 journey, there are those who are going to be left behind. Just like the BB wars of others, we are going to have one within the black community. Ours will not be a physical fight though. It will be the realization that just because you look like us doesn't make you one of us. And as we struggle to progress, we must accept the reality that we cannot save those who don't want to be saved. From the education our children get in school, to the personal education we undertake to move forward in this country, it is a journey we take on collectively, though in truth it is an individual responsibility.

There are two things we can do to begin this journey. The first is to reject the criminal behavior of those among us. This is especially important now because with the legalization of marijuana sales by the state, and the taxes coming from it, the police are now authorized to begin to crack down on the competition (aka street level sales).

Second is cleaning up the black community from all the detrimental factors that hold us back. I'll talk about that more in next week's column.

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