Updated: November 1, 2011 11:53PM
Author and columnist John McWhorter in his column titled “Herman Cain and the Sadness of Black Folks” says black people carry a certain type of sadness about them.
He bases this contention on the failure of many blacks to see that racism in America must be lessening because many white Americans embrace the presidential candidacy of Herman Cain, a black conservative.
McWhorter’s point seems to proffer the fact that whether black people support Cain is not the point, in his view, the real point is for black people to see the proverbial big picture.
The larger idea that Cain’s nearly all white supporters mean less racism in America, or at least evidence of racial progress.
Of this point McWhorter writes, “If young, successful blacks see racism as playing less of a role in their lives than their parents or grandparents did, then why must our main lesson from this be that America is not post-racial, and that black America overall continues to have serious problems?”
McWhorter’s contention begs the question of just how do we measure the amount of racism in America?
Should we base our conclusions about race and progress on a black man sitting as president, or even upon a black conservative with white support for the office of president?
Or, as some seem to promote, do we continue our assessment regarding the prevalence of racism in America based solely on the sadness in our souls, born from a deep pain of past injuries never healed?
Frankly, hurt is hurt. The pain of racism stings from one generation to the next in the black community. It leads to a fundamental distrust of all not like us, and even the verbal bashing of other blacks who encourage black people to heal and thus open up their options.
Make no mistake, healing of the soul provides more options for an active and successful life in the same manner that healing a broken leg provides greater freedom of mobility.
If McWhorter thinks black people remain sad, my question is why?
Why do many of us still hold tightly to the vestige that racial prejudice is still the main obstacle preventing the advance of black people in America?
John McWhorter suggests that there are those within the black community who profit greatly from the sadness or anger of black folks.
McWhorter suggests that author Ellis Cose, who wrote “The End of Anger,” has a message that says that black people must remain angry at people in the Tea Party, the reality of subprime loans in the black community and the fact that the black middle class is making less money than their parents.
I suppose that if one desires to be angry, he or she can always find an object for their anger.
What is also true is that perpetual anger will always produce soul level sadness.
If one is angry all the time, especially about the perceptions others might have of them, then it will not be long before therapy is the order of the day.
Whether or not all black people are sad or angry is not for me to say. I do not possess enough empirical data to determine this one way or the other. What I do know is that I know many black people who live lives stinging from circumstances interpreted to be racial.
Like the Martin Lawrence character in the movie “Boomerang,” some of the people I know see the white pool ball shooting after the black eight ball at the end of the game as indicative of whites trying to get rid of blacks.
That is not how I choose to view my world or my life. I will not live in the state of perpetual sadness or fear regarding how someone else views me.
The very thing that freed me from this type of intellectual, emotional and soul bondage was the realization that I have a choice as to how I view the world. I am free to say that I belong without giving a hoot about who likes it or not.
If there is sadness in us, it is because we are reticent to let the pain of the past heal.
Failure to do so means that instead of handing our children the hope and dreams of success unencumbered by past injustices, we hand them hope with a side order of our own pain.
Healing from the pain of injustice, whether racial or otherwise, is a choice we all must make at some point in our lives.
All of us do not experience the same level of injustice, but we all experience some injustice. Failure to heal leaves a soul depth bitterness that is all too apparent, even when we think we are hiding it. Between perpetual anger and sadness, or freedom and hope, I choose the latter.
I remain intensely confident that not only black people, but all people locked in the bondage of past hurt and the resulting bitterness, can be free if we make peace within ourselves; look in the mirror and take pride in the thing the Lord made uniquely — you.