kentucky voices

Kendra Farmer: Younger blacks prisoners of own minds, culture

January 19, 2014 

Kendra Farmer of Frankfort is a recent graduate of Kentucky State University, where she was the editor of the campus paper.

How often do you hear a person of color making claims about being discriminated against because of their skin color? More often than not, I would guess.

Every time I turn around I hear outrageous claims like "Oh that teacher only gave me a C because she doesn't like black people," completely ignoring the fact that they have missed more then half the classes and only turned in mediocre assignments.

Or, you hear, "They only pulled me over because I was DWB (driving while black)." Yet they neglect to mention that they were going over the speed limit while texting on the phone.

The generation I have found myself thrust into is one full of apathy about what it means to be a person of color.

You have women in their 20s walking around trying to imitate the lifestyles of "the basketball wives" and video vixens, making their whole existence revolve around acquiring red-bottom shoes and 20-inch Brazilian deep body-wave weaves. All in the hopes that some "baller" will come along and pay their way.

Sorry to tell you, honey, but no one rides for free. In exchange for the keys to his Bentley, you are handing over your pride. While you are enjoying those late nights and paid vacations, your daughters are growing up believing that laying on their backs is the surefire way to have the world handed to them.

While on the other hand, we have a class of young boys who can no sooner call themselves men than a fish can fly in the sky. They are growing up listening to hard-core rap and developing their life values to honor such codes. It gets exhausting watching them become victims of their surroundings, with no one to tell them that gang-banging and drug dealing are not the only way to make it in this world.

Watching their idols demean women as a means to financial success has assured them that it is OK to call every women they meet a derogatory name. Meanwhile they don't understand why no one wants to hire someone who walks into an interview with a vocabulary as deep as a rain puddle. They never understand what it means to be a man, a provider or a rock for their family.

We, as a people, have fallen way short of the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of all those years ago. Playing into the hands of our oppressors, we can no more say we are free than they could back when earlier generations were fighting for civil rights.

We are prisoners of our own minds, our own hearts and our own culture. Blacks walk around accusing other races of holding us down when it is we who hold one another down. It is our own fault that we have allowed our family systems to erode into a mere shadow of what they once were.

There are blacks who assumed that because a black president was elected, blacks would have the upper hand in this country. What they fail to realize is that having true freedom and control of your own life starts with you embracing your history and enhancing your mind.

Barack Obama does not represent what will come, simply how far we have made it. And his personal and political success have no impact on the everyday black man.

People of color need to wake up and realize that there are too many opportunities in this country for people of every race for us to continue to blame others for our failures. We need to teach our young sons and daughters what it means to take pride in themselves.

We must not expect the world to hand us what we feel it owes us and shed the blood, sweat and tears necessary to earn what is due to us.

We need to take "the black card" out of the deck and create a new one. A card of change and perseverance.

Reach Kendra Farmer at Kendra.Farmer@kysu.edu.

Kendra Farmer of Frankfort is a recent graduate of Kentucky State University, where she was the editor of the campus paper.

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