Who in our ranks is working to be a model citizen in the United States for African Americans. Is it Barack Obama since he is the president, or do we just indulge ourselves in our moments of discontent and social dissent? The meaning that we should take from the query that I present, is that while we pulls at each other like crabs, we don’t purport examples of lives well spent, we just vent and point at each other with lament. In this day can we hit the mark and have other people say “How great it is that they overcame the challenges of the day?”
I found myself chilling in New York City. It was a time for great style, high fashion and remarkable models, and reports of the biggest stars from Tyson Beckford to individuals like Harriet Cole who bring fashion to life on television and screens from state to state, and even on the world stage, the world stage as those in the know dictate.
They were all having dinner and I listened intently as they had so much to say. These were images and icons parading around, just like you and I, but holding it down. But when we walk out of the door, do we make people acknowledge the value of our contributions from protests and marches and boardrooms to college.
What is it that we’re choosing to display? When we’re covered with tattoos, all the way up our ears — what is it exactly that they say behind closed doors — what would you expect to hear?
When we choose to show our underwear do we think we are really showing how much we care? Or are we aware that when that office door closes, they say “those underwear bearers, arrest them or send them to the penitentiary? When they observe our less than dignified walk every day, and they see the slouching and assume it’s prison you’re modeling and where you want to be anyway. When they see the short shorts and your panties too — they believe they can see everything about you. That’s why they pull and grope at you, as you twist and respond inappropriately and on cue.
Oh, we must come together as a community today, we must appear to have modeled ourselves in an African American intellectual and distinguished way. No, we must not forget our past, for it lives within our skin. No matter what designer jeans you wear, you are still black — thick or thin. No matter what elevator you take to your office floor don’t fool yourself into believing you’re worth any more. Get off that plateau and come back from the edge, be the black rising star that you so brashly allege.
Many of us don’t understand what “passing” is today. It’s when you are no longer a model of the community, and you portray yourself to be someone on a stage operating with impunity. But no, no, no. When they close the doors, they say things that you would hate. They’ll even talk about you when your face is on an album or a cover or two. They may not have any use for you, if they’re not making money off of your skin, and there not making money from the person and the message that comes from within.
The creativity and that genius that we all choose to adore, understand you still must model yourself with dignity and more. Make mental notes of new sights to explore and watch the beauty, the bounty and the abundance that exists beyond our shores.
It’s this model person that we hope to make a stake in this place, that we want to claim for our race.
“Call me Mr. Tibbs” he said, this dark handsome man. It’s all those things, that Jay-Z says about black excellence — but is drug dealing dead? Are we revering cars that are $300,000? Are we missing the point, as we give our money away? And young brothers can’t afford college anyway.
Wouldn’t it feel better to have Jay-Z type scholars too? Wouldn’t you love to know that 10 percent of all of Michael Jordan’s shoes are used to get brothers through Howard University and Morehouse College; and sisters through Spelman, too.
Maybe that would be the model of charity and contributions for the community too. It would let others know what our model celebrities chose to do. Not just for a foundation, but economic equality given by our own. Maybe this is the model attire that we hope will be sewn. I’m not sure, but Tyson Beckford smiled for the camera and I did, too. I’m hoping that you choose to make yourself a great model citizen for the African American nation too.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar shared a poem that I appreciate each day. “We Wear the Mask”:
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
Being a member of the corporate world, shouldn’t make you forget your brother too. You should be an advocate and help them understand the culture that we have. We need dignity and model citizens to advocate on our behalf.