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  • Antoine Simmons


Updated: Sep 16, 2020

If you were born in the US of A, and you happened to be black, it’s likely that you were taught—in one way or another—that you were at a disadvantage. You were taught that “the system” would oppress you, as that's what it was specifically designed to do. You were taught that you would be a secondary citizen, and that you would struggle for everything that you had. You were taught that there would never be a place for you at the table, because the table wasn’t made for you. You were taught that the men who built this country and this system, were uncommonly cunning, and could not be bested. You were taught—and this is the most important lesson of them all—that there was nothing you could do about it. This is the way it is, the way it was, and the way it will always be. Your life, your rights, and your humanity were forfeit at any time of the systems choosing. You and your helpless black body were there for the taking. That’s the way it was for your ancestors, your grandparents and your parents, and that is the way it would be for you and your children. This, this insidious and highly infectious process of thought, has been the pandemic of the mind running roughshod through the African American community for generations. Of course, this has not been the case for all African Americans. One need only look to the Talented Tenth, the Marcus Garvey’s, the Malcolm’s and the Martin’s, the Stokely Carmichael’s, the Muhammad’s, the Jack Johnsons, the Ella’s, the Nina’s, the Tubmans, and countless others, to see the unwavering fight and fire that dwells within the belly of the African American existence. But, and there is a but, the system still pervades. The oppression engine that is the system of America still looms over the African American psyche. The negro has been taught that It is not their own effort, sweat, toil, power, rhythm, passion, strength, beauty, prowess, mastery, and intelligence that dictates their future. It is the system. It’s the penal system, the justice system, the financial system, and the educational system that enslaves the African American. No longer are our bodies shackled, no. We now wear shackles of the mind, the soul, and the spirit. We are powerless participants in a show we neither auditioned for, nor have the talent to play in. How then, can we persevere in such a state? How can mere puppets and pawns overcome the system in which they find themselves? The answer is that they cannot. If the African American does not heal their mind, they cannot overcome the system which they so readily deem as the arbiter of their misfortune. If the African American does not exercise their agency, they will remain puppets and pawns. There is certainly an oppressive force subjugating the African American, but It is not omnipotent. It is however, the most difficult opponent of them all, it is the self.

It is the hateful self-image, and the lack of self-efficacy and external locus of control. It is the idea that we do not control our destiny, that we do not have the power to make the decisions that determine our place in this country, or this world. It is the idea that a shadowy cabal of white devils have engineered our lives before we even get a chance to exercise agency over them. It’s not that these elements don’t exist, it’s simply that we are strong enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, brave enough, talented enough, and powerful enough, to overcome any obstacle, any maze, any puzzle, and any system that is placed as a deterrent to what it is we want. It is time to free the African American mind from the slaver shackles of powerlessness. It’s time to exercise our Agency.

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