I was talking to someone last night who told me the reason we (African Americans) cannot succeed is because since slavery we have been told this over and over again. According to this person, we have been told that we are inferior and will never amount to anything and will always be inferior to White America.
I take offense to that because my mother never got that memo. I don’t know why people buy into this propaganda, but please speak for yourself. My single mother never told us we were inferior to anyone. We never told our children that…and they darn sure aren’t telling their kids that.
How do you buy into that when we have successful Blacks like President and Michelle Obama? His title speaks for itself. She is a lawyer who was raised on Chicago’s South Side in a one-bedroom apartment.
We have Oprah Winfrey, who came from poverty (and was raised by a teenage single mother and was a sex abuse victim). Dr. Ben Carson (a professor of neurosurgery and oncology) was raised by his single mother. Carson struggled academically (D average student) throughout elementary school.
In Minnesota alone, we have a Black congressman, Keith Ellison and two Black state senators, Jeff Hayden and Bobby Joe Champion. Even though she and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, it would be disrespectful to not recognize our Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Bernadeia Johnson (MPS), and Eric Mahmoud (a Black male) for his success as an educator of Best Academy (recognized nationally).
If I forgot anyone, please charge it to my head and not my heart.
In Minneapolis we also had a Black female mayor (Sharon Sayles-Belton) and, at one point, a Black female state senator, Neva Walker. We had a Black female city council person, Natalie Johnson-Lee, and two Black male council persons, Ralph Remington and Brian Herron. We also had two Black male police chiefs in St. Paul, Finney and Harrington. We have successful Black athletes, teachers, entertainers… I can go on and on and on.
I don’t define myself by slavery. While it is a part of our history, we came from more riches than the average American can dream of having. We came from a history where family and values were important, where elders were respected, where ancestors were willing to die to be educated. Convincing yourself that your children cannot learn because they are poor or because White America is preventing them from picking up a book is not my truth and never will be.
I send a shout-out to my mom, Mary Flowers-Spratt, a single mother of six who came from a family of 18 kids. She grew up dirt poor in Marianna Arkansas. She managed to graduate high school at 18 years old, raised six kids (and suffered through the death of her seventh) in the Chicago projects and North Minneapolis, and went to college when she was in her 50s.
I’m glad she told me that I could be anything I wanted to be.
“A proud supporter of North Minneapolis”