BY TRONE DOWD
During this season, many Americans take the time to remember all that we should be thankful for. Whether it’s their family, their career or their life in general, it is a tradition that goes back decades despite the grim origins of the annual American holiday.
As Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, it is important that we take a look at 2016 for the black community. There have been hardships and triumphs at seemingly every turn, such as the increase in President Barack Obama’s approval rating, to the devastating and inexplicable murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in July. For every breakthrough talent paving a way in the current landscape of art and culture as seen with Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce, we lost a Muhammed Ali or Prince.
This Thanksgiving, the Black community should take this time to recognize all that we have endured and yet still manage to push forward. We should celebrate the lives of our heroes like the previously mention Ali and Prince.
In Southeast Queens, people from all corners of the country came together to remember the late great Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor right on 192nd and Linden Boulevard. The late rapper and his fellow A Tribe Called Quest members changed the scape of hip-hop and brought attention to their humble neighborhood of St. Albans. They had people as far as Australia, Africa and England proudly belting our tales of Linden, Jamaica and Queens long before elected officials declared it the “World’s Borough.” Saturday’s tribute was a heartwarming send off to one of the most prominent black heroes of the modern era.
But why should Southeast Queens stop there? Let’s keep it going. Let us remember our lost local heroes like Coach Charles Granbyn journalist Gwen Ifill and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark. Let’s tip our hats to the accomplishments of former Councilman Archie Spigner. Let’s remember our national heroes Congressman John Lewis and Adam Clayton Powell who navigated the tricky halls of government paving the way for a Barack Obama to ascend to this country’s most powerful office. Let’s remember figures like Nelson Mandela, who accomplished the impossible and shattered the backwards status quo of the world. Let’s appreciate the often underappreciated work of the Black Panthers. All of these people are trailblazers that have set and continue to set the path for our people today.
It was less than half a century ago that we were segregated from the rest of “normal society” through unfair and discriminatory laws. In this not so distant past, we were taken advantage of and mocked for our culture and our simple desire to live happy lives here in America. It was less than three decades ago that our government sabotaged predominately black neighborhoods with damaging drugs. Yet, despite all of this, we pressed on. We were hurt, but remained undeterred.
Today, even as we see the American people more divided than ever, let’s remain steadfast in remembering just how far we have come in our own community. While the rest of the country may fail to see that at times, going as far as to discredit our most important contributions to this, at times, great nation, let us celebrate our own greatness. We are inventors, leaders, artists and trendsetters.
Be proud of all the progress made, proud of the torch already being passed and of the future generations already on track to surpass those before them. Most importantly, be unapologetic and proud to be exactly what so many deemed a curse, a setback and a mark of failure. Be proud of the excellence that is being a Black American.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123 firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly