Recognizing Our Greatness pt. 2

by Young Che on July 14, 2008

About a month ago Will and Jay stopped by the office after dropping S off at the airport. Will had been reading our recently self-published book of testimonies about how we had come to accept the teachings. Once again he told me that it really sounds like I hate living in New Orleans. I told him that it’s more of a love/hate thing that I have with this city of ours. This is a very common feeling with a place that generates so much pleasure and pain. It’s very true that there are some aspects about life in New Orleans that I absolutely despise. This is very understandable and anyone can appreciate this sentiment, especially Post-Katrina now that the world has gotten the opportunity to witness via CNN the value of Black life in New Orleans. Well it’s too bad that Black life is devalued all over the Earth or else I would have definitely moved a long time ago. Black life isn’t worth much anywhere unless it begins within that Black soul. Once Black people get (and comprehend) a proper appraisal of our self-worth we are more likely to treat Black life how it should be treated.

The people here are so rich and raw in spirit that being around them is like plugging into the essence of God. I mean, in New Orleans people seem to put their soul on display for the world to see. You get the good, the evil and the ugly. We are collectively being tested in unique ways as we all struggle to rebuild our lives which were all interrupted by the direct intervention of Allah through the powerful winds and resulting floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. Last week we hosted our second Essence Festival since Katrina. The Essence Festival has long billed itself as the “party with a purpose.” In New Orleans we party for any purpose or lack there of. I like to think of it as a constant celebration of life, death and everything in between. My queen and I decided to bring the young ones out this year to check out the first night of festivities.

Of course we showed up a little late to allow the show to get started.  I think we missed J. Hill or somebody.  You’d never know that we were in the early stages of a major recession, or that we were the ones who have been the most ill-effected by the recent sub-prime mortgage meltdown if you were to base your judgment on the new outfits that dominated the night’s scene. We never allow any fashion trends to pass us by nor miss any opportunity to influence the next fashion trend with our heavy sense of style. We caught Rhianna for what it was worth.  She was entertaining for the 36 minutes that she was on stage. She is a very gifted artist and entertainer.  My girls absolutely loved her performance.  After Chris Brown started his set it didn’t take me long to figure out I had to get out of there. The females screamed loudly apparently in response to his throwback state of the art footwork. I had to escape because it was beginning to get hard to hear myself think. I started my trek to one of the Super Lounges which took a little work to figure out who the Lounge artist would be this year.  I don’t know why I couldn’t easily find the info on the Essence website but hey the added sense of mission to figure out who else was scheduled to perform was kind of adventurous.

I found posters for Grand Master Flash in one of the lounges and Angie Stone in another one. Honestly, I was torn between these two venues but I decided to catch Angie first then maybe I could catch Flash for the second set. Angie tore it up. She did her thing and brought us all back to ’78. She brought the Sugar Hill Gang out for their world renown Rappers Delight. Off the chain. Watching Angie perform reminded me once again of our greatness as a people. She flawlessly embodied our feelings on stage.

I made my way back to the main stage just in time for Kanye West’s closeout performance. He’s been on tour recently and didn’t receive much love two weeks earlier at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. It was a completely different story on the 4th of July at the Essence Fest. Kanye did his thing with enough ferocity to make a caged lion wish he had that kind of juice. His live band was, well, live. They could have carried the set without vocals but that ain’t what we paid to see. The set included crowd favorites such as Diamonds From Sierra Leone, Can’t Tell Me Nothin’ and his 2005 hit Gold Digger, which samples from Ray Charles’ hit I Got a Woman.

The next morning Infamous called me up to inform me that the Williams Sisters were battling in the Wimbledon Finals match. I tuned in just in time to witness yet another example of our greatness as a people. We have so many great ones among us and our greatness is shining through for the world to see this year. Every time I think of our greatness I get excited. I see greatness in our young ones who can barely complete a sentence but have that look in their eye that they won’t be denied any longer. Venus beat Serena this year (7-5, 6-4). Despite all of our individual accomplishments or condition as Black people in America still is not what it could or should be. Our greatness is often contrasted with our savagery which is also broadcasted for the world to see. It is our savagery that dominates the worldwide perception of Black people in America. This is by design. We must celebrate all of our great ones and lift them up higher for our young ones to see. Our young ones have so much raw talent and unbridled confidence in their ability to do whatever it is that they think they want to do. We have to redirect and channel this energy so that it benefits them and us overall as a Nation in the long run.

Talk about love/hate relationships. I have a love/hate relationship with myself, my people, my country and my world. My world is beautifully flawed. If everyone rode a skateboard the world would be a better place. Well, maybe not, but at least we’d learn to look at our surroundings a little differently and see that our very environment is full of possibilities as long as there is concrete or some other surface that the 53mm urethanes could roll over. I could point you to multiple solutions for any given problem you may be faced with but the first obstacle you must overcome lies inside of you. You have to want more for yourself out of this life before anyone else or any other solution can be applied to your situation. My Eldest Son called me the other day and we marveled for a while about how several people make a great living in the most unsuspecting of businesses. We concluded quite accurately that it has a lot to do with being brave enough to follow your passions. This is the time for small businesses to flourish. This is also the time for ideas and innovation to explode. We have natural resources buried within us and now’s the time to mine them out. The world is changing very quickly right before our eyes.

The area with the most potential for us as a people to make something out of nothing is in the world of technology. We know that over the years this is a constant challenge of ours as a people. We are forced to make something out of nothing all over the world. Whenever we get a little something we sometimes have a tendency to abuse the little something that we do have and end up back at square one attempting to do the impossible once again. There was one man that I know of who has been given the impossible task and by the looks of things He has come very close to accomplishing it. You have to look beneath the surface to appreciate the progress He has made.

In the world of technology innovation is rewarded. More specifically the internet is still ripe with opportunities of all types. Ideas translate into currency like never before. We must embrace change and remain as adaptable to these ever changing conditions. The curve is constantly being pushed and it is not the time to move slow or else we run the risk of becoming obsolete ourselves. This is a great time for us to refine and if necessary redefine the world’s perception of us through digital technology. For so long we have had to allow the worst of our condition and expression be broadcast to the world as if it were our only calling card. Now we are blessed with the emergence of digital multi-media which gives us a fighting chance to be the great ones that we know ourselves to be. It’s not a secret that we have the ability to excel in any chosen field of endeavor. We just have to be exposed to it and given some of the fundamentals and basic knowledge and watch how we explode. If you have access to the internet but do not have a job or have recently lost your job due to the massive layoffs taking place all over the country now is the time for you to reassess your skills, talents and gifts. Determine which you are the strongest in already as well as have a passion for doing. Consider teaming up with some people who share your passions and start an online business. Even if you have a job and think about running your own someday now is the time to start your own online business as well. You don’t necessarily have to be technologically advanced but have a passion for learning, sharing and a determination to own your existence.

Our condition is great and dreadful. I have this love/hate relationship with our condition. We have the power to change our condition.

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