By Marquis Rollins
One morning the other day as I prepared to eat my breakfast — Danish accompanied by a cup of well-prepared coffee — I stared at the journalists on the local news station as he talked on television about a recent display of heroism shown by a particular individual. He had saved the life of a young child who had fallen into a lake and was drowning. The family of the child did a brief interview explaining how fortunate their son was to have this man around to save the day, and how grateful they were for his amazing efforts.
Now once this particular news clip was over and left behind in history as a memorable event, a thought came to mind. I asked myself, “Who are today’s heroes in the Black community, and why aren’t they being recognized as such?” My thoughts led me to assume that the reason why we aren’t patting the back of such a being in our community is because we aren’t taking any inventories that would allow us to identify what that hero looks or sounds like.
Is it the neighborhood social activist who presents himself in well-tailored suits to a camera-filled audience as he spills out his objective in an effort to receive praise for his agenda? Is it the angry, rage-filled brother who spews out emotion-inspired accusations towards the government, while being surrounded by a seemingly concerned crowd of Black citizens armed with picket signs that say, “We have had enough!”?
Or is it the brother who has just returned home from a long prison stint whose admiration for the Black youth compels him to preach on the street corners in his inner-city community to promote responsibility and discipline, hoping to at least change one mind out of the many that his words approach? Although his financial status is less than par, his compassion and devotion is as evident and genuine as any politicians.
So, as the reader, it would be safe for you to assume that only one of these figures can occupy the role of hero, but the truth is quite contrary to those beliefs. The truth is that all of these men are heroes but our inability to record our own history denies us the chance to commend these Black men the way that fate suggests we should.
Many others, such as today’s entertainers, entrepreneurs, and Black engineers, deserve much attention in our pursuit of heroes, but our community has to be willing to consider the impact of each and every one of these men’s and women’s contributions to the Black network. We as a people are being driven further away from our designed purpose because we are failing to discover identities in our Black neighbors.
There is a strong need for positive reinforcement towards the undesirables in the community. It’s time to start doing a more thorough analysis of our troubled youth so that we may be able to decipher whether or not they are today’s liability or tomorrow’s legends, because inside each of these African American minds is a hero.
Marquis Rollins is an inmate at Lino Lakes correctional facility.