The Relationship Between Black History & Power Living

cropped-headshot-pam-reaves.jpgThe observance of Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate the relationship between the African American community’s heritage and Power Living. We are a passionate, spirited, spiritual, and loving people. Not in spite of, but rather because of our history: (1) We have become masters at taking little to no resources and creating something great; (2) In the face of adversity we have consistently demonstrated true grit; (3) We are not unaccustomed to defying the odds stacked against us; and (4) We have developed and honed vast gifts and talents that have helped to build an America that is great. The newly released movie “Hidden Figures” is but one of many examples which prove that the possession of gifts and talents aren’t new to us. We’ve been doing extraordinary things throughout our entire history as Americans.

As passionate, spirited, spiritual, and loving people, we know how to do a whole lot of things. Thank God, however, there is one thing that we don’t. We do not know how to stay down. We keep getting up, pushing through, breaking through, coming back, and moving forward. These are the actions of people who possess power.

The African American heritage is one of Power Living. According to Professor Andrew Hack of Harvard University, no people in the history of the United States have been called upon to endure what the African American has been called upon to endure. I would respectfully add to Professor Hack’s observation that yet we still rise; we excel; we keep advancing; we still hope; we still love; and we are still American.   Despite the frequent depiction of a community replete with troubled youth, our young people are emerging from every walk of life (even out of abject poverty) to achieve greatness; become successful; and exceed all expectations.

Our elders are still on the front line after decades of fighting for equal rights and justice. With the vigor of their youth, they remain fully engaged in advocating for us because they know that the African American heritage is our point of reference. This heritage of power living is a reminder, as well as the evidence, of all that we’ve been through; all that we’re capable of, and our infinite promise when we are resolute in our commitment to allow nothing or no one stop us from fulfilling our inalienable great promise. These battle-tested warriors know that although Dr. King had the dream, it is up to us (individually and collectively) to accept the baton and remain vigilant until we transform the dream into reality.

Today’s unrest in America may give some within the African American community pause, maybe even second-guess this heritage of Power Living that I speak of. Go ahead and have your moment. Pausing isn’t a bad thing because there are times when a deep breath, quiet time, and serious contemplation are necessary. While you are pausing, default back to our heritage (i.e. point of reference) for motivation and inspiration. If disappointment is your truth, don’t you dare accept defeat. If you’re bent out of shape due to the chaos and vitriol that seems to be the order of the day, never accept that you are broken. What seems to have been designed, or is a desire to set us back is an opportunity to hit the re-set button. We are to use this opportunity to re-evaluate who we are, what we envision for ourselves, our families, communities, and to default back to our point of reference (a heritage of power living). I promise, determination will then be the inner fire that will compel you to take matters into your own hands in order to preserve the heritage. Keep what has worked for us throughout history, and commit to building upon that. Discard the rest.

It’s time to think beyond conventional wisdom. Maybe not spend so much time wondering where are the likes of Oprah, Barack, Reverend Al, or the other familiar names we’re used to calling upon. No one person or small group can satisfy every need, fill every void, or solve every problem. There’s enough work for some new names to come to the forefront (yes – even yours). The current issues before us are unprecedented, so there’s an immediate need to: (1) Form new alliances; (2) Pool our resources; (3) Create opportunities rather than wait for them to be handed to us from people who don’t know or appreciate our true value; (4) Laser-focus on the strength of unity that has been our guiding light throughout some dark and desolate periods in the past rather than being consumed with in-fighting; (5) Engage in the political process rather than sitting on the side lines as spectators; and (6) Embrace and appreciate diversity. Regardless of what the isolationists say, there is knowledge, value, and strength in diversity.

Since November 8, 2016, I can’t count the number of conversations that I’ve participated in or have overheard someone mention that what happened is a wake-up call. My response to this is that we’ve had plenty of wake-up calls. Our ancestors were awake when they cried freedom. They were men and women who refused to accept the inhumane assessment of others because they knew they were supremely valuable. They were willing to risk the lash and even death because they would not accept that they were powerless to do something about legal bondage and a morally corrupt system. Our antecedents were awake and ready to assume positions of power in the areas of politics, entrepreneurship, and education during the Reconstruction Period. They didn’t just wake up suddenly two years after the abolishment of slavery and decide to jump in. They were already alert and planning their courses of action to pursue what they wanted.

During the 1920’s, the world was awakened to our creative, cultural, and artistic genius during the Harlem Renaissance. We were awake when we exercised our power to peacefully protest and marched along with our leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. We influenced public policy and law – that is power. Along with other communities, we were awake and ready to receive a Change Agent who came along and reminded us of the power to effect real change. We went to the polls in record numbers – thwarting every agenda that was devised to keep President Barack Hussain Obama from the Office of the Presidency.

We’ve have enough wake up calls. We’re not asleep. We’ve always been aware of what we wanted, needed, and deserved to have. Once you experience the awakening, you have to: (i) do something more than acknowledge an awareness of the need for change; (ii) demand favorable responses to your voice; (iii) demand justice, and; (iv) make guaranteed access to all of the privileges and opportunities afforded to those who do live the American Dream according to their respective definitions non-negotiable.

So this time I challenge each of you to answer the Clarion Hall. What is the Clarion Call? It is the trumpet sounding; the loud and clear call to Purpose-Driven Action so that no matter who is in the White House, State House, or City Hall, we will not only survive, but we will also thrive in any market, social, or political condition. That is our truth because we are the beneficiaries of an inheritance of Power Living.

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