Commentary

Black people made progress in 2020. But we need to stop being our own Achilles heel | Anwar Curtis

January 6, 2021 6:30 am

Black Lives Matter protesters march outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol on Sunday, 6/7/20 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

For the past five years, I have challenged myself to grow by reflecting. This challenge has allowed me to swim through my thoughts and find that one constant experience and work on it throughout the following year. I don’t know if it is the Cancer sign in me or if it is due to the influential circles that I am apart of but this is a challenge that I have embraced.

Anwar Curtis (Capital-Star file photo)

As we all know, last year was a rather unique year. I mean, let’s face it, who would have thought the rules of our lives would have changed due to a virus? Who knew that we would be subjected to mask-wearing throughout the day while staying six feet apart?

Since society’s rules have changed, I’ve decided to share my 2020 reflection with you. Right before I started to write this, I have to admit I was in a weird space.

That weird space is the rut that Black men and women are trying to survive. That rut is Black men and women being equally heard and understood. Now I could sit back and keep this a secret, because who wants their dirty laundry exposed, right?

Well, thanks to social media, this secret is no secret at all.

Now many of you reading this may know this already but if not let me inform you. When it came down to injustice and economic issues, 2020 didn’t really look any different than any other previous year when it came to Black people being valued equally to our White counterparts.

In 2020, a shift did take place where many White allies came to the forefront and incorporated “justice for all,” which was a breath of fresh air for many Black people to see and hear. And although this shift occurred and new allegiances were made, the one shift that still hinders the growth of Black people is us, which is a hard pill to swallow.

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On New Year’s Eve, I stumbled on a post shared exactly 730 days prior. It was a snippet from a documentary by the recording artist J. Cole.

In this snippet, a group of people had gathered to discuss the power of influence. On one end there was an African-American young lady who was extremely vocal, and encouraged influencers like J. Cole to use their voice to bring more attention and change for Black people.

On the other, there was an African-American young man who challenged the young lady to explain why that responsibility solely rests with influencers who are in the pop culture.

Now due to perspective, some would suggest that that Black man had it out for the Black woman and didn’t support her opinion, because his opinion seemed to be combative.

Others may say that the Black woman was forcing herself into the conversation and was disruptive. What insight I am bringing to the table is two people having the ability to construct their own thoughts and share them amongst peers, respectfully.

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As a Black man who fights to make sure Black women are not only seen but heard I have nothing but compassion in my heart. As a Black man who fights to make sure the narrative of the Black man is told correctly, I have nothing but sincerity in my soul.

And although I am only one person, I’m not the only person doing this work. You see, many of us are trying to break generational fears and curses. And unfortunately, some of those fears and curses were created by older Black men and women, who, in their prime were fighting a different cause.

Thank God, some of those strategies are outdated. Yes, we should listen and be accountable, but we also must remember not to get stuck in a rut forcing a mind to change that has been maneuvering in a certain space for decades upon decades. Because, in my opinion, nothing good will come out of it besides individuals being upset.

Overall, we have come so far as a race. But until we cancel out the noise, and continue to build allies within our own race, and understand our current fight for change, then we will continue to be our own Achilles heel. Let’s also be more intentional when dealing with gender problems as a race.

I believe if we do that, then we can do anything and I can live with that for at least the next 365 days.

Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis, of Harrisburg, tells the stories of the people of Pennsylvania’s Capital City. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ACTheMayor

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