Friday, May 18, 2007

When Death Comes, What Will Your Legacy Be?

So, Yolanda King -- the great Martin Luther King Jr.’s eldest daughter –- passed away at the age of 51. Just dropped dead, like that (fingers snapping).

Just confirms that, although we may believe that we have all the time in the world, we don’t.

We never know when our own transition will come.

And when it does come, what will your legacy be?

If you’re like me, it can be so easy to fall into the habit of putting things off until tomorrow. . .and tomorrow. . .and tomorrow.

We tell ourselves that we’ll begin a new fitness plan then. Will take the first steps of reconciling with loved ones then. Will begin to work for our community, Our People, to “give back” then.

But what if we took a lesson from Yoki King’s life, and began to work where we are?

Now, this Sista was heavily into the arts –- actor, producer, motivational speaker, a myriad of other things –- and her interests could have easily lent her to say “no time for giving back to My People! I have to write, I have to act, and I want to appeal to everyone! I can’t talk about issues of racism and racial oppression because that might diminish my commercial appeal.”

But she didn’t. She lived a justice philosophy by incorporating it into her art. Now, I’m not saying that she was a one-note wonder, always talking about Justice and nothing else; no! On the contrary, I’m saying that she was a well-rounded person who “talked the talk and walked the walk” in her own way, in accordance with her own gifts and talents.

And that leads us to yet another lesson we can take from Yoki King’s life: that of following the beat of your own drummer in working for racial justice - - for Justice -- even as you work in community for the same.

Now, many folk in Justice Movements will tell you that you must think their way, believe their way, do things exactly their way, in order to be on the “right” path!

If you have an independent thought with which they don’t agree, they will question your “Blackness”, rebuke you as a “self-hating Negro” or “Uncle Tom” or “Aunt Jemima”, and otherwise try to make you feel that you are somehow less committed to the Movement or less of an Afrikan in amerikkka than they are if you are not their philosophical or methodological clone.

Too many times we fall into the trap of which Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) spoke: "Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods or tactics or strategy.”

Sooooooo. . .What I am respectfully submitting for your consideration is the notion that we could all take these lessons from Yolanda King’s life:

1) that we can and must find a way to speak out about racial injustice –- to speak FOR justice, whatever the form and need!! –- in our day-to-day lives; to “preach” about justice; and to live in accordance with a recognized justice philosophy that counteracts the on-going institutional campaign of racial oppression. No matter what our 9 to 5’s. No matter what our talent(s). No matter what our interests and time constraints.

2) that each of us “do you” with integrity. That we realize in order to act as “agents of change” for racial justice –- in order to successfully incorporate action into our day-to-day lives –- we must do so in a way that is individually viable, and

3) that we must allow others the independence –- of thought, of tactic, of use of our individual gifts in the cause of eliminating racial oppression -- to work in different ways without penalty or marginalization from each other and our community.

We must not be discouraged or allow ourselves to be invalidated by the disparagement of others because the work we are doing on the issue follows a different path or because we do not have 100% philosophical agreement with another Brotha or Sista in the justice movement.

We must realize that there is room for disagreement and growth about methods, strategies -- even philosophies -- as long as we share the same justice goal of dismantling amerikkkan white supremacist philosophy and replacing it with a justice philosophy.

We must stop beating up on each other and act like the Brothas and Sistas we claim to be.

We must hold each other accountable and accept our individual responsibility of accountability to our families, our communities, Our People. . .ourselves.

Living a justice philosophy –- not just talking about it or agreeing that it is a good idea –- means incorporating some action FOR justice in our day-to-day lives, each day, each month, each year.

Living a justice philosophy means that when death comes to us, part of our legacy will be that we lived with integrity. . .and gave back to Our People. It means that we become one of the many broad shoulders offered upon which the next generation can choose to stand.

A beautiful Legacy, don’t ya think?

Until next time ponder this. . .

Freedom in amerikkka

Living in the free glory of
“We Shall Overcome”
giving thanks for gloried marches

Dismissing the work left undone
accepting amerikkka’s watered down version
of “I Have A Dream”

You know that in amerikkka
“freedom” ain’t all that it seems
you know that “freedom” ain’t all that it seems…

As you’re being told that the work is finished
while you’re rattling your chains having freely traded in
the physical for those chains around your brain

As you buy into the consumerism of
“the American dream”

You know “freedom” in amerikkka
ain’t all that it seems when you’re

Still being called a “radical” when you
dare to complain; but it’s too late when
you jumped at that bargain price to freely
slip back into your chains

Four generations was all it took
to bargain our hard won freedom
away and although

A dream deferred is a dream denied
maybe our children won’t mind the free delay

While you buy into the consumerism of
“the American dream”

You know that in amerikkka “freedom”
has never been all that it seemed

But maybe that’s why it’s really good that
as a people we so love to barter because
what was paid for by Our People in blood we now
freely sell for the highest dollar, and maybe

We’ll barter our way out of chains before our
Judgment Day, but then we’d probably just turn
around and once again give our freedom freely away

By buying into the consumerism of
“the American dream”

We now pay premium price for the chains
once forced upon Our Ancestors for free and

This “freedom” in amerikkka
ain’t all that it seems, you know
this freedom ain’t all that it seems

For Us, this “freedom” in amerikkka
ain’t never been all that it seemed and for Us
this “freedom” in amerikkka ain’t
even that free

Adar Ayira.0207 ©

Moving Forward,