Netflix miniseries, When They See Us; Political Action Now, As Black America Must Seize The Moment. : ThyBlackMan

Monday, October 21, 2019

Netflix miniseries, When They See Us; Political Action Now, As Black America Must Seize The Moment.

June 19, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( There are moments that I, a progressive Black man, am unsure if I should celebrate or cry after dealing with my people. There is no greater variable that causes my feelings to vacillate between jubilation and depression than issues that reveal African-Americans understanding or ignorance regarding the stony path that we have trod on the North American continent.

Rarely does a day pass that I am not reminded in some fashion of how much my people do not know about their history. Usually the feeble-mindedness is conveyed by a singular individual, I tend to rationalize those moments as being indicative of a person who is an outlier who has managed to escape any knowledge of the Black past. Truthfully, I have yet to find a method that allows my mind to avoid a significant meltdown when forced to recognize the colossal amount of not knowing that so many of my kind wear as a badge of honor. The latest vehicle that has arrived to remind me of how disruptive “not knowing” is on my soul is Ava Duvernay’s Netflix miniseries, When They See Us.

I guess that the most logical explanation for why this matter is situated at the forefront of my mind is that a recent conversation with DeMarcus Hamilton, a mentee of mine whom I consider as close as a son, touched on this matter in an indirect manner. As many of my students are known to do, Mr. Hamilton expressed his gratitude for my African-American History course that covered the Central Park Five case. This young man shared his disappointment regarding how many of those he encountered expressed that they’d never heard of the Central Park Jogger case. Making matters worse was the fact that those he encountered were ignorant of the Scottsboro Boys case (1931) (Part I) (Part II) that was eerily similar to the Central Park Five incident.

While listening to this young man’s commentary regarding how little preceding generations and his contemporaries understood of the Black experience, I knew that there were few words of wisdom that could stifle the mounting anxiety that I heard in his voice.

Although devoid of sage advice, I recognized that this young man was grappling with how an educated Black man who loves his people accepts the voluminous and wholly unnecessary political illiteracy of his people. Unfortunately, there is no balm for this type of heartbreak.

The overt emotional reaction of Black America to When They See Us is a forthright indicator of how little Americans know about the actual cost of being poor and Black in “the land of plenty.”

Although Ava Duvernay is to be applauded for her depiction of the events that began on the night of April 19, 1989, I realize that the inflamed emotions that have made the Central Park Five case a hot topic in Black America will eventually be pushed aside by a fast-approaching racial incident.

The Central Park Five case serves as another reminder of the need for African-Americans to learn their rights but also the need to stand against White bigots seeking to hide their devious deeds behind a badge or court proceedings.

As always, I hope that Black America develops an understanding that the path to racial uplift is not found in the emotionalism flowing from incidents such as the Central Park Five, rather it is found in the development and efficient operation of independent Black institutions. As mentioned before in this space, Black political leaders and institutions must become so formidable that outsiders would shudder at the thought of needlessly attacking members of our community. The time is now for Black America to seize this perspective as it is the only reasonable path forward.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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