Today’s World: Who Are We Really?
By James Wilson
The air felt warm as it breezed through the city’s streets. I would never forget that day. My family was in the front yard having a barbeque. The music was playing and the kids were on different sides of the street playing curb ball. (For those who don’t know what curb ball is, that’s when you are on opposite sides of the street, throwing the ball back and forth trying to hit the other team’s curb to score points. All while yelling and cheering one another on. It’s a very popular game in our neighborhoods.) The day seemed so timeless and everyone was truly enjoying themselves.
We did not have to hide in our houses nor be afraid to go on the porch due to fights and gun fire on the street.
The tide has changed over the years. We no longer have an identity. Somehow – along the way – it’s become a norm in our community not to know oneself and to have little or no care for our neighbors, community, or one another.
I am constantly asked: “Why do these young people kill one another? What can we do to help them?”
Some may not agree on what I am about to say, but the reality is that we can’t do anything for them if they don’t know themselves. Ok, confused? Let me explain.
We, as a people, are losing ourselves to the glamour of today’s world and no longer realize what is reality or a fantasy. My peers are left without fathers and mothers who are either working hard and long hours as single parents unable to attend to them on a constant bases even though they really want to OR with parents who are on drugs and have left them to fend for themselves and get consumed by the thing called the streets.
I know right- shocking reality! Yet and still, despite the fact that we all know this, we — as a people — continue to be indulged by this glamour, therefore, constantly forgetting about who we are and where we come from as a community and nation. We just accept our circumstance and walk toward the glamour. Is it easier to just do that then to be something different?
Our young Black men no longer value the sacrifices so many before us made to have the freedoms of today. In fact, we simply don’t care. We are tied up trying to prove our worth to the streets — to seek comfort from them due to our unfortunate insecurities the world has grown us into. We fail to know our worth and true leadership. We fail to jump on the band wagon – for ourselves or for our children. We aren’t realizing we and they can do better and become greater than their environment.
We circle back to the point about knowing who we are. We say we know who we are. We defend it. This is our choice. We tell people we do know, but again I pose the question: Do we truly know who we are or are we just faking at it?
How many of you remember when Mama use to tell us to be in the house before the street lights came on and, at the first site of the sun going down, we were running our butts off back to the house to make sure Mama didn’t come out and embarrass us in front of our girls and friends! That was not the time to be cool, but to get home ASAP.
The respect for things like that is no longer there, but replaced by anger and much more. Do we really know who we are? Is this who we are?
Find yourself, grow into something more than where you’re from. Grow into who you are. Grow into a young man or woman! Know who you are as a person and community. Love one another even if it kills you to do so. We each have to take responsibility for ourselves – in a different way than we are. What many of our young Black men see as being responsible and knowing who they are and what they want is just being angry, disrespectful and careless to ourselves, our neighbors and our community. We have many reasons for being where we are, but we have a choice about who we become.
If we don’t stand for something good and decent, we will continue to fall for anything!
James Wilson, a native of Martindale Brightwood on Indy’s east side and President of Circle Up Indy, is a true statement of how one can turn their life around regardless of their criminal past. He is now a young community leader and loving father making a difference in this community. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.