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The Question of Relevance

I'm reminded of an event whereby I was invited to be the keynote speaker.  It was during Black History month that year, so of course, I was honored to speak.  The title of my talk that day was, "The Immeasurable Distance Between."  It came from the narrative of Frederick Douglass, whereby he was focused not only on the distance that occurred between the races, but the distance that occurred between self-proclaimed Christians and the true message of the Gospel.  I've never been a fan of Q & A because its the one area you cannot prepare for, but nonetheless, we went with it.  

A gentleman stood up and with tears in his eyes, he didn't know how it was that the black race continues to survive and thrive.  He wanted to know how this came to be.  Furthermore, he wanted to know about his own existence in the world and the value of his own worth.  Not only that, he talked about how afraid he was of losing his relevance.  He was an elderly gentleman and from what I could tell, he felt that he was no longer useful to society, primarily because of his age.  What he didn't tell me was, there was a time in his life where he was sought after, he was popular, he was well informed.  He didn't tell me this, but it was implied, and now he felt that he merely exists.    I told him that relevance was not only in the eye of the spectator, but it was also domiciled in the eyes of the one who "merely" exists.  It was up to him to ensure his relevancy to society.  

Now here we are a few years removed from that event, and as I begin to examine my life, I'm peering in at the same question.  Do I matter?  With that, I asked myself, why do you even entertain this path?  And self said, even though I'm busy educating tomorrow's leaders, and even though I still work with others to preserve the sanctity of their own lives, it feels that I'm not as useful to people as I once was.  I am grateful that the Millennial's and Gen-Xer's have stepped up, but hey, the baby boomers still have something to offer.  That's the way I'm feeling, but that isn't the full reality of my existence.  We (baby boomers) do matter and we are useful.  With retirement on the horizon, I still want to be a part of a thriving and progressive community.  Truth be told, I'm probably not needed to the extent that I could be utilized in the community in which I reside, but I do know that there are communities out there that would benefit by my expertise and I am in pursuit of said community.  

Well, it reminds me of Dr. King's "The Drum Major Instinct" message that you can find on my website.  He talks about the fact that it is normal to want to be noticed, acknowledged, affirmed, etc., but it has to be with the right motives, thus leading to the right reasons.  Former President George W. Bush was in pursuit of the weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein and yes, the United States is listed as the country with the highest weaponry, but one of our most lethal weapons is mankind itself.  In light of the activities over the past 9 months in our country, we as humans, have been extremely destructive towards one another.  I do pray that in the days, weeks, months and years to come, that we find some sense of peace and show kindness one to the other.  You matter, I matter, yes, we all matter and we are given different skills and talents to manifest our worth.  It is true, we don't need another hero, but we do need people who are willing to find a healthy and meaningful way to serve God, Christ and Humanity in a way that would be pleasing in His sight.  ~Be the light that you want from others.

Dr. Robin D. Duncan.

You Have The Right to Remain Black: Being Black Is Our Genesis and Our Revelation

Today while watching Station 19: Season 4-Episode 12, it became more than just an entertaining program.  It became the reality of not only the black human's but other marginalized humans as well.  The show is about a team of Fire Fighters who represent a wide array of human origins, including race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth.  Though they are different in humanity, they are one as a team that works hard to rush in where no average person dares to tread, in order to save the lives of whosoever will let them.  But this episode, I'm sure, had very few, if any, retakes.  The following are some of the verbiage that I honed in on.  "It is exhausting navigating a world that sees us (meaning black people) as a threat.  We (meaning black people) have to be careful out there.  Before I move forward, this episode was based on the protesting that took place right after the death (now murder) of George Floyd.  It was beyond the normal acting.  It was real.  In a conversation between one of the firefighters (who was a former MD) and the therapist, he came up with a new medical and perhaps psychiatric diagnosis.  He said that he has a life threatening condition called, being black in America.  

The captain (a white female) said that "this situation is not a normal fire.  This fire is beneath our feet."  Not only are we living under the conditions of systemic racism (see the 13th Amendment), whereby  with our country with 13% blacks, has a prison population with 34% blacks, has the 13th Amendment right in their back pocket as far as the gaslighting of slavery is concerned. Not only are blacks under attack but since the outbreak of this pandemic, hate crimes against Asians have increased, but according to the episode, this information is not making headlines.  The question was posed, "why are we so invisible?"  

Another issue that was presented was, the issue of vilifying.  Statements like "if he hadn't done what he did, he wouldn't have got what he got", again referring to George Floyd and others who have suffered under the hands of, once again, systemic or institutional racism, being that of law enforcement.  Gaslighting isn't off the table either.  Have you had the opportunity to read the Autopsy of George Floyd?"  I have it right in front of me.  The journal, "Scientific American" wrote an article stating that the weaponization of medical language emboldened white supremacy with the authority of the white coat...

My White Americans, refrain from making statements such as, "I'm not racist", because this statement, according to the episode, is the club slogan of what being racist is.  America is a culture built solely on white supremacy.  Why do we say this? White privilege is the norm for many.  White privilege is not damned, it appears to be praised.  White privileged is not cursed, it appears to be blessed.  My white Americans, it's time to listen rather than talk.  We (pertaining to all who are marginalized) are terrorized,  rather than reassured. We are being hunting, rather than being honored.  We are criminalized rather than being authorized.  WE ARE TIRED! Rest assured that soon, and not many days from now, we will rise from our weariness and we will strive to help make this nation that God himself can look down upon and say, these (all of us) are my people.

Robin D. Duncan, Ph.D.