I was born at 2614 Jones Ave. There was an outdoor toilet but no telephone or gas. A pot-bellied stove heated the second and third floor. Mother cooked on a coal stove and used a flat iron. Outsiders probably viewed the community and the Kendrick family as being poor. The truth of the matter was that we never perceived our neighbors or ourselves as poor, because we had family values instilled in us that molded us to understand that richness should never be defined as materialistic.

There are those of us who have attended college, gotten degrees and lived in neighborhoods where we used to get stopped by the police for riding through. These people have permitted themselves to be defined as successful because of their new zip codes. And they buy into it! They refer to the neighbors they left behind as “those people.”

I’ve encountered and observed colored police officers, male and female, who have allowed their White co-workers to warp their thinking to the point that they define all other Blacks in certain communities and situations as suspects, solely because they are Black. Have you ever met parents or those who graduated from White educational institutions that have been so indoctrinated that they attempt to define HBCUs as inadequate schools?

Too many of us allow ourselves to be defined as Black Americans, thereby relegating us to second-class citizenship. The truth is that we are Americans first, and if you disagree that’s fine, but as for me, this is my nation.

In the Black Church we still sing, dance, shout amen and hallelujah, and speak in tongues, but since we have become George Jefferson [“moving on up”] we allow others to define our churches as not being sophisticated enough.

It is amazing that I have encountered a number of Blacks who aspire to become businessmen who have told me how Blacks who work for lending institutions never explain what they need to do, but simply explain why they can’t be helped.

Public schools, in conjunction with many other reasons, have failed our children, but those power brokers—who possess the power, but not the will—define the educational problems by continuing to quote the dropout rate of young Black males, but make no effort to correct the causes.

Allow no one to define you, because you are somebody. You can accomplish anything—you are no better than anyone else but just as good.

Kingsley Association still needs your financial support.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)

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