Birthing Black Superheroes

"Urging African-Americans to become superhuman is great advice if you are concerned with creating extraordinary individuals. It is terrible advice if you are concerned with creating an equitable society. The black freedom struggle is not about raising a race of hyper-moral super-humans. It is about all people garnering the right to live like the normal humans they are." - Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Black Pathology and the Closing of the Progressive Mind" March 21,2014


I'm thinking about the reverse discrimination I see from my African-American students on a daily basis. I see the lack of internal resiliency to rise above-in ANY sense of the word. I see the quick need to blame everyone else but themselves, while at the same exact time, seeing their white elders treat them exactly how many white people have been treating African-American people for centuries...regardless of success, determination, motivation, etc. So I try to teach my black kids to rise above...I guess to become the super humans Coates refers to. If I'm understanding him (with the quote above) the way I think I'm hearing him, then I really don't understand what my next move would be with my teens, who will soon be going out into the "real world". How do I help create an equitable society if I don't teach a bit of superhumanness? It takes an equal amount of positive to make a negative neutral. With our past, we are currently at -414. Therfore, if my logic is...well, logic, then my mind is saying I have to create some superhuman beings that have no choice but to fight harder to overcome-and fight to bring down the masses- on their way up. That's the only way I see we are going to be equitable one day. 


My black do I approach the subject to even phrase the words I need that will explain the very delicate balance of the respect I have for what I know they can be and the disdain for what many of them have become? Why do I, as a black woman, view a black man in the same category as a Jimmy Choo shoe...something I could possibly obtain in my lifetime IF  I work reallllll hard, and make very careful, precise choices to find the ONE pair I wouldn't have to get in serious debt for. Except with my black man, the debt I referenced would become a burden on my soul and self-esteem, could possibly be passed down to my daughter and impact an entirely new generation, and wouldn't be simply cured with an extra paycheck. 


The only way I keep hope for my daughter's America- her future experiences in high school, the probability of her TRULY having a fair chance of competing with La Jolla Country Day's Jennifer for the one spot they have left at Princeton- is to keep my fairy tale alive of believing that I have the ability, and can create super humans that are so unbelievable, that they can magically rise above the  translucent racism no one in that world claims to see anymore, while strategically changing a few minds along the way.


Who would be able to deny a Spanish and French speaking, African-American piano playing young lady with a 5.0 GPA and $100,000 in scholarships? Well, of course, there will come a time when I will have to tell her that her black men will. The white boys will eat that up, but her black men, they will label her as stuck up, siddity, and everything else in the book. But by then, I'm sure she will have built a tolerance for it. The boys have already began calling her crispy, a boy, and the older ones...well, it's not like they exist in mommy's world either. She doesn't see ONE example of a traditional two parent home from ANYONE that looks like her. In fact, the one notable thing she's learned from her dad is that fuckin random white chicks was more important then building a household and loving foundation for her, with her hard-working and faithful mother. 


Racism does still every facet of the word. There's a generation of us that has been taught to rise above. There's been generations of us that have been taught to fight. There have been generations of us who have done both and still ended up with the same results. The only way I can keep my sanity, and to expect anything different for my life, my daughter's life and the lives of my students, is to teach them what I call “The Macgyver Method”. Take the resources that God has given you, and allow yourself to be so innovative and inventive, that the masses will not be able to comprehend your creativeness. Strive to do the impossible. Yearn to influence the unswayed, and when those that will hate turn your way, kill them with your x-ray mind that has prepared you to succeed in a world that the most powerful inventors on earth have yet to imagine. In this world,where the 50 shades of discrimination and racism no longer hide behind a white sheet, that can not be achieved by being normal. 


-Annette Joel 


The thread of which I responded:


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