PUBLISHER’S COMMENTARY

Four more things for African Americans to consider in Trump’s America.

Bernal E. Smith II, besmith@tsdmemphis.com | 11/17/2016, 12:54 p.m.
Four more things for African Americans to consider in Trump’s America.
Bernal E. Smith II President/CEO

Last week, I posed the question: “Donald Trump is president-elect, what do we do now?”

I offered three initial actions. In summary, they were:

  1. Locally, begin a process to ensure that Memphis’ large black majority actually has representation and voices that truly represent the best interest and issues of the community.
  2. Strategically re-allocate the 92% (nationally) of black vote that voted Democrat. Set an agenda and allow candidates and parties to court our vote. No more blind allegiance to one party or another.
  3. As citizens and taxpayers, exercise every right — that includes voting early and often. If you consider yourself an American, vote. Period.

As promised, this week I continue with additional actions that the African American community should consider, given the tone and tenor of the campaign, the outcome of the election and now the early appointments of the President-elect Trump.

There is open hostility and violence toward people of color as a direct result of Trump’s campaign. It will be difficult (if not impossible) for him to close the Pandora’s box of white supremacy, racial hatred and animosity that has been opened. And to add insult to injury, his initial top appointments include a raging bigoted white supremacist, anti-Semite.

Considering this set of facts, consider these four additional steps:

Stay Woke: Let’s actually “stay woke” instead of letting it be just a cool hashtag.

Following the Trayvon Martin murder, and on through a seemingly neverending string of tragedies, there were calls for a new level of consciousness, a new level of activism. There were calls to boycott Black Friday, Christmas and a long list of corporate entities. Next were calls to buy black, bank black and channel resources into black-owned businesses.

Those are all sound strategies — if we stick with them.

I think most of us can agree on the power of sustained aggregate action(s) toward ushering in positive change. Certainly, the Civil Rights Era and most great movements of social change came through demonstrating that there truly is power in numbers. However, to truly achieve change, the efforts must be sustained — even to our own discomfort.

From inception to culmination the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 381 days. Boycotters not only stayed off the bus, they carpooled, collected money, food and clothing for each other. For more than a year, blacks in Montgomery kept their eyes on the prize — even when it was difficult, inconvenient and boring. Rain, sleet or snow, the effort was sustained until the goal was achieved.

We can no longer afford these efforts to become just the latest hashtag or passing fad. Whether local, regional or national, these efforts must be sustainable and then seen through until the victory is won.

Stay Informed: Whatever lessons history has for us, get them and USE them.

George Santayana is credited with saying that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I would take it a step further to say that those that do not know, understand and learn from history are simply doomed.