You have heard many of the old sayings over the years, such as “free schools and dumb people,” “educated fools, no common sense,” “birds of a feather” and so many others.
The other day a friend of mine stopped me in the gas station and began to recite the many negative incidents that are occurring in our communities with great frequency. He concluded with one I had never heard, “we are pulling the wagon back down the hill.” I understood very clearly what it meant.
The Emancipation Proclamation in theory freed the slaves. Once we were able to reconcile that we were free, we started almost immediately to pull the wagon up the hill (moving on up). We utilized the skills that the slave masters had benefitted from too long, the building of schools, colleges, and churches. The former slaves became the inventors of gas mask, air condition, cotton gin, air brakes, and blood plasma. There are too many to name, because the system used a corrupt legal system to take and stifle us at every turn.
As we progressed moving up the hill, the wagon began to expand. Blacks became congressmen, senators, governors, engineers, architects, doctors, lawyers, record numbers of business people, owners of ships and actors on stage and in movies.
Yes the wagon was steadily moving up the hill, now we are admirals, generals, and pilots. We attend prestigious White universities and move to the suburbs. We are moving so well that we had to hitch more wagons, because we are a major percentage of athletes in professional sports, partners in sport franchises, and CEOs of major corporations. We almost reached the top of the hill, because in 2008 a Black man became president of United States.
A number of us had been concerned for some years about the negatives of integration and on the way up the hill it began to rear its ugly destructive and divisive head. Now we begin to pull the wagon back down the hill.
Too many of those who had bought into the system had convinced themselves they were different than the rest of us. We became the enemy of those who we had made it possible for to accomplish whatever position they occupied. They no longer referred to you and I as we. They now referred to us by stating to their newfound White coworkers, “I don’t know what those people expect.”
The difficulties of Black people to obtain a decent job that can support a family are a major contributing factor that creates splits in the family. There are those who will state the economy is bad, but the problem existed when the economy was good. Black business people are denied contracts, construction, goods and service and professional service contracts and Black leadership is invisible. The oldest Black nursing home in America, Lemington Home still sits vacant up on the hill off Lincoln Avenue.
Blacks are setting records robbing, stealing, drug dealing, shooting, killing and filling the jails up. Now too many families have increased the difficulties of obtaining a decent job upon release from jail.
We used to segregate ourselves by color of skin but now we segregate ourselves to a large degree based on our academic achievements. I am a lifelong member of New Destiny AME Church on the North Side and not one member of the church lives in the community, and that is the status of almost every one our churches across Allegheny County.
Blacks fail to run for public office except in a position occupied by another Black. Our most frequently used excuses for not challenging wrong is “I need my job,” “my children want to go to school,” “I’m buying a house.” There may be some validity in those statements, but they give themselves away when they refer to themselves saying me never we.
Black parents fail to attend parents’ night in their respective schools, and never go to school board meetings. The latest excuse from these parents is they are not allowed to punish their children, when in fact these parents mistreatment of their children is worse than any physical beating you and I ever encountered growing up.
We must put the brakes under the wheels, because there are those throughout the community who are pulling the wagon back down the hill.
Please remember Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)