By: Deric Muhammad
I’m not passing judgment on anyone. I am grateful for any and everyone who has lifted a finger to help Black people in the last 455 years. And let’s be realistic, Black people lead the nation in joblessness, incarceration, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS cases, poverty, fratricide (Black on Black murder) and so many other categories that signal the weak pulse of a people. To say that I have no understanding of why a person would think to give up on Black people would be a politically correct lie.
A few weeks ago a 3-year old Charissa Powell was shot and killed during what police called an attempted carjacking in north Houston. Two men attempted to rob Charissa’s father at gunpoint for the rims on his car. When her father tried to remove Charissa from the car one of the men opened fired with an AK47 killing her and wounding her brother. This is the kind of insanity that makes Black people think about “giving up.”
The late great Donny Hathaway used to sing a beautiful tune that said “Giving Up is so hard to do…when you really love someone.” While Hathaway appears to have been singing to a woman, I would contend that the same sentiments can be applied when speaking of a people who suffer like my people. The truth is that in order to maintain your stride toward freedom, justice and equality for Black people you have to love Black people with a love so unconditional that you love them more than they hate themselves.
I don’t write this kind of article out of a vacuum. I hear the hurt, pain, disappointment and livid anger expressed by people in barber shops, grocery stores, churches, etc, when innocent children like Charissa Powell get caught in the crossfire of ignorance and self-hate. Sincere Black people have at times told me to my face, “You go ahead Muhammad. Call me if you need me, but I’m sick of ni—as.” Like it or not, this is the way that Black America is talking.
I could not bear to go to Charissa Powell’s funeral for 2 reasons. 1). The last time I attended a funeral where that casket was that small it took me nearly a year to recover. 2). Knowing that her young life was taken by one of our own misguided brothers compounds the pain tenfold. However, I know that my personal pain will never be more important that God’s will. Therefore I can never give up on Black people, considering God has not given up on me.
It is natural that we sometimes get tired, overwhelmed and discouraged. If you turn on the nightly news, the non-stop images of Black people in handcuffs, postured before judges could very well make one want to just move to an island. But no matter, where you go the suffering of darker people will follow you. And so will your conscience. We will never be free until giving up on Black people becomes synonymous with giving up on self.
This is no time to give up; this is the time to get up. The only thing that we need to give up is apathy, complacency, laziness and disunity. Instead of giving up on our people let’s give up everything that has become an impediment to our rise. I’m all for giving up on envy, jealousy, gang warfare and dope dealing. To give up on your people is to give up on your birthright. To give up on your people is to give up on our children and their future.
If we give up how many more lives of innocent babies like Charissa Powell do we place into the hands of the forces of death that plague the streets of America and the Black community? Charissa’s death should serve as a “wake-up call”; not a sleeping pill. It’s time to give up the thought of “giving up.” It is not an option.
If you have ever been a part of any organization that fights for justice on behalf of our people I ask that you revisit, rejoin and rededicate yourself. If you have never joined an organization like this, make a wise choice and then do so. If you are not a mentor to some young person or a watchman for the elderly in your community I say “get up.” The only thing we can afford to give up is the grave of ignorance. And the next time you think about giving up on Black people, think of where you would be had God given up on you.