Yd2h95952_3This is an excerpt from a book I was working on a couple years ago, entitled THE BRYANT GUIDE ON BEING BLACK: 50 RULES TO GET IT RIGHT. Should be entertaining reading…

Do me a favor black America – THINK FOR YOURSELF!

This book is therapy for me. And while I think he could have spread the responsibility for the problem around a little more broadly – like to all of us and not just poor Black America – I am supportive of what Bill Cosby is trying to say, and do in Black communities across America …But I do think we all need to take the conversation a little further.

This said, I don’t really care what people think about what I have to say here. This book is not about me, nor is it meant to be some sort of popularity contest. This book is about “we,” and most of all it’s about giving you the tools, hopefully, to THINK FOR YOURSELF.

Respectfully, I don’t want you to think like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, my hero Ambassador Andrew Young, my shero Dr. Dorothy Height, former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, or even me for that matter – unless you have considered, for yourself, their and my positions and opinions, and thereafter made a determination on your own, to make their views your own.

Ladies and gentlemen, racism, discrimination and “the white man” even, are not the main threats in our communities anymore. Apathy is, and apathy kills.

Love and hate are opposite emotions, but at least they move in a direction. Apathy just lies there, saying nothing. Doing nothing. Love and hate are opposite emotions, but indifference is the death nail of the soul.

I have always said that gated communities are absolute proof that America has effectively lost the first phase on the war on poverty. That mainstream America has effectively thrown in the towel and thrown up its collective hands; coming to the conclusion that it simply cannot solve the complex web of problems that lie beneath endemic urban poverty.

Fine. Yea, …FINE.

It’s not their problem anyway. It is ours.

Not to worry, (mainstream) America will be back. They will be back precisely when we stop being seen, and more importantly when we stop seeing ourselves, as a liability, or worse victims, and start behaving and looking like the assets we are!  In other parts of the world they call the phenomena and "problem" we call our inner-cities and ghettos, “…emerging markets.” Hello.

Yes, America will be back. But the question is, will we be ready?

Can we, …well, heal ourselves?

While touring the Anacostia area of Washington, D.C. a couple years ago with then local Councilman Kevin Chavous, I asked him what was the number one problem in his district. His response – apathy. Deep. That people had just given up hope. That “their get up and go, has just got up and went.”

We have got to get our lives together, our HOPE back, our spirits back in intact, our respective rear-ends engaged in positive, productive activities, and our MINDS FOCUSED ON THINKING FOR OURSELVES. Not because I believe descrimination doesn’t exist anymore or is no longer a factor. Not because I don’t believe that the playing field really isn’t level. But because no one else cares. We must become for ourselves the change we want to see in the world. Period.

No one is going to save us, but us.

As I have often said, "for the last 40 years we have become experts in what we are against, but over the next 40 years we must become experts in what we are for." No society on the face of the earth has ever succeeded focused on what they are against.

Something to THINK about.

John Hope Bryant

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