By Ernie McCray
I dream a New Years Wish for my fellow black brothers and sisters, one steeped in my yearning for a country that truly is committed to the mythical land of “liberty and justice for all” we Americans pledge loudly and proudly in classrooms and public gatherings.
I just wish we actively pursued such ideals.
Now, I realize that we, like all other “individual” citizens of the country, can rise and shine and fulfill the loftiest of hopes and dreams.
We can find ample proof of that in our history as we’ve accomplished a little of everything. We’ve won Nobel Peace Prizes and journeyed beyond earth’s skies into outer space.
We’ve commanded troops on land and on sea and occupied every position there is in politics with one of us ascending to the presidency.
We’ve organized blood banks and created business empires and lead the way in the development of heart defibrillators and techniques in heart surgery.
A black man invented thousands of uses for the peanut and others gave us the gas mask and the traffic light.
And no individuals receive more praise than black athletes. I mean the world fell in love with a black man, Muhammad Ali, who “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.”
For years the world chanted “Say Hey” when Willie Mays would lose his cap chasing down a fly ball and robbing some disgruntled batter of a hit just when he thought he was going to be the hero of the day.
Air Jordan would fly through the air, like some superhuman being, scoring baskets in bunches with his tongue stuck out as the world watched in awe with dropped jaws.
Serena’s serve is seen as one of the wonders of the world. Simone Biles is recognized by all as the greatest gymnast in the world. Tiger Woods still is followed closely on the links no matter how he’s playing or where he’s playing in the world. Black sprinters are the fastest in the world.
The world treats all of the above like gods.
And the arts. We move the world with dance and song, giving it style and swag and all that jazz, leading to a world that’s Hip Hop to the eye and ears and soul as baseball caps are worn backwards and sideways world-wide; bling is the thing world-wide; tattoos adorn skin world-wide; rap, like Jay-Z’s spittin’ rhymes, are bumped loudly along streets world-wide; terms like “woke” and “lit” and “fly” are spoken world-wide; people “nae-nae” and “moon walk” world-wide because what’s more fun than moving forward backwards?
Who hasn’t been intrigued with a Langston poem, with Satchmo blowing his horn, with Ella singing and scatting a song, with Bojangles tapping alone or with little Shirley Temple to a rhythmic song?
The world holds our individual accomplishments in high esteem. It’s just that we can’t seem to get any traction as a group, as a race. That’s a huge social disgrace that still, after centuries, is in need of remediation.
But if white America listened to what one of our dear departed African American citizens, Maya Angelou, had to say in her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” ushering Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House, we’d hear her asking all Americans, in so many words, to give into our better selves, to be inclusive and responsible for each other so that we can adopt positive change.
She spoke of a new day and said of this day:
“You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
That we finally get around to saying “Good morning” to each other, and look at each other as equals who deserve to be accorded all the liberties and justice that our country has to offer, is my dream:
My New Years Wish.
Especially considering how African American Alabamans rushed to the polls and voted “Hell No” to a loudmouth racist pistol packing ten gallon hat wearing candidate for the U.S. Senate who preys on teenage girls – rescuing our nation’s citizens from having to bow our heads in an unprecedented kind of shame.
With that I wish all human beings a Happy New Year!
Joni Halpern says
What a poignant way of pinpointing our failure as white people — that we have been only too happy to idolize the successful members of the African-American people, but we have been unable to find the lesion in our thinking that makes us see an entire group of our fellow citizens as inclined to fail. Your New Year’s wish is now mine.
John Lawrence says
African Americans have accomplished great things and are responsible for a huge part of American culture, as you point out, Ernie. However, way out of proportion to their numbers, many are mired in poverty, incarceration and homelessness. While America praises the famous athletes and entertainers, it does little or nothing for those that are the worse off in our society, a majority of whom are black and represent the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
hi Ernie. Good morning. I yearn for equality and justice for all Americans and all people of the world. In reading the “underground railroad” . I wondered if I would be able to take the risk of helping the slaves of that time.
don’t know . Going to Costa Rica to volunteer on medical team. Just a little bit of help somewhere.
Love . Katie
kathryn heineman says
Good Morning, Ernie. Love and justice for all–someday. Katie
Ernest C McCray says
Love and justice. I love the sounds of those words. Costa Rica will be fortunate to have you around.
Tomas Gayton says
White America refuses to acknowledge that our country was built on the backs of Black Lives.