Throwing away the shackles


Black History Month. The time for fair weather civil rights activists and two-article black culture experts to stand proudly on their soapboxes and declare that they care.

While there are always fair-weather activists in any group, something else exists in the black community that is just as disheartening: Shackle-Brandishers. But just what is a Shackle-Brandisher?

Shackle-Brandishers are those who carry the badge of slavery as an excuse instead of a source of empowerment; they are those who speak as if they themselves were slaves, and as such, are owed something by the American populace. 

The Shackle-Brandisher carries every burden but his own. Instead of accepting the blame of their own shortcomings or accepting the reality of their own humanity, the blame “the white man” for oppressing their “superiority.” History has the nasty habit of repeating itself, and a mind-set like this is neither healthy nor conducive to the growth of our race. 

As time has sped forward, the lines have become blurred. Prejudice is a presupposition about a particular person or thing before actually experiencing it. Racist is a belief that there exists one master, superior race, and because of this, they are entitled. Let us not forget the mind-set of many slave owners, or even that of Hitler and his obsession with the Aryans. How can we call ourselves better when, in actuality, referring to ourselves as “superior” just because we’re black and because the world is our birthright is doing the exact same thing as those who oppressed us in the past. 

The past! 

It has been generations since the enslavement of our people, and it’s time to cast down these shackles we place upon ourselves. The mantra these days is “individuality.”

“I ain’t changin’ fuh nobahdeh,” they say. “I’ma always be me and do what I want.”

Those types, are fools. Untempered steel breaks; it does not bend. People see bending as weakness, as submission. The unyielding always break, always. Bending is power. Bending is strength. We who bend or flow as water are strong. When an obstacle is in our way we go around it; when we are faced with difficulties bold enough to strike us, we take the blows as experience and strike back three fold. Bending is change. It is not submission. 

Our enslaved ancestors, the ones people so fervently love to reference, escaped their bondage by bending. They behaved and put on a brave face long enough to learn what they needed to succeed and escape: plans, routes, reading, writing, strategy, things that the youth of our culture pride themselves on not doing. I say we change the image. We empower ourselves then teach our children to teach their children for the rest of our existence that you are not limited by your race. We come from a strong culture with emphasis on family, love, and friendship, and it’s time we drew from those examples instead of the bleak. 

Reneaux Ruffin is a junior mass communication major from Oak Grove.