On Sunday, I attended the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Syracuse University. The weekend long celebration was comprised of a number of activities and community projects that focus on activism and honoring the late Martin Luther King Jr. Social justice activist, professor of African American Studies, and CNN political contributor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill was given the honor to of being the keynote speaker at Sunday evening’s dinner event at the Carrier Dome. The contents of his address were so encouraging and moving that they inspired today’s blog post. So, with the start of Black History Month being yesterday, I knew that this was the perfect time to share.
Although the address delivered by Dr. Hill was one of the most compelling of its kind, one thing he said stood out to me more than anything. While speaking on the writing of the Black National Anthem, he mentioned that the lyrics to the song say Lift EVERY Voice and sing. Not just BLACK voices, not just WHITE voices, but lift EVERY voice. Even in the midst of their oppression, black people still strived to uplift everyone, promote equality, and celebrate all people. However, when it comes to us and following our dreams, this notion of “uplifting everyone” is not always exercised.
A girl is walking on her college campus to class. As she is walking toward her class, another group of girls are walking toward her. As they get closer, she realizes that these girls are members of a student organization that promotes equality and social justice that she is also a member of. As they approach each other, the girl walking alone smiles and waves at the group of girls. They do not smile back or respond. Instead they begin to laugh and talk about her in a hurtful way as they walk past her.
Although the excerpt above isn’t real, how many of us can say that something like this has happened to us? How many of us can say that someone who is the same as us whether that be the same race, same gender, same religion, same socioeconomic status, same life path, has inflicted us with some form of hatred and abase? How many of us can say that someone who is following their dreams the same way we are following ours isn’t supporting us, but instead hating us, competing with us, oppressing us?
I don’t even want to know the answer.
People who are supposed to be a community, working together to achieve a SIMILAR goal are doing just the opposite of that. How can we rise together against oppression and impediments when we are degrading each other? How can we be a community that stands firm in togetherness and harmony when we participate in a system that divides us? And for the people I’m talking to today. The people following our dreams:
How DARE we say we’re striving to achieve our own goals when we see someone who is doing the same and we CHOOSE NOT TO uplift them and support their success?
As harsh as this is, it is happening. Black girls are hating other black girls. Young men are killing other young men. People following their dreams are hoping for failure for other people following their dreams. Let’s be real. We all know what it’s like to struggle. We all know what it’s like to desire change. We all know what’s like to want more for our lives and the people in them. We all know what’s like to be passionate. We all know what it’s to be excited to follow a dream, and we all know how hard this journey of following our dreams can be. Knowing this, how can we see others experiencing similar things and not be there for them? How can we refuse to help them? How can we be jealous? How can we not uplift them? How can we not be a community?
How can we be divided?
When you see someone following their dreams the same way you are, support them- uplift them.
Like their Facebook Page.
Purchase their book.
Send them a message of encouragement.
Offer your guidance and knowledge.
Let them know we’re in this together.
This week, I challenge us to lift another person’s dream. When we are all working toward the same goal,why wouldn’t we work together to see that everyone achieves success? Let’s be a community, let’s be a team- let’s lift every dream.
Happy Black History Month