African-American Identity Beyond the Struggle: Leaving the Stragglers Behind

One of the most engaging dilemmas of a long, arduous journey is knowing and appreciating when the end of the struggle is upon you. For African-Americans, marking the place where we embrace the accomplishment of reaching our collective destination is of critical importance. But, more paramount in the historical narrative is recognizing the need (nay, the obligation) to move beyond the limitations inherent in the romanticism of continued struggle. Acknowledging our collective destiny from a historical perspective does not translate into arriving at that destination collectively. This realization demarcates black progression from black stagnation.

African-American Identity, Equality, and Opportunity

In reference to the struggle toward equality and equal opportunity, most African-Americans of my generation are very familiar with the watchword “Keep on keeping on.” During those many, many years of struggle, that phrase conveyed the importance of perseverance and fortitude. It was, during times of personal and group strife, good for both our collective souls and our collective mindset.

A History of Struggle in Black History

This phenomenon of always struggling, always climbing, and always moving forward is as much a part of our history and African-American identity as the plantations from which our journeys on this continent were launched. Struggles and obstacles have been so much a part of our African-American history that the overwhelming majority of us feel now incapable of disengaging from the past and moving toward the future.

Black Freedom: We’ve Reached the Mountaintop!

However, like any war or struggle, attrition is wearying, for both the attacker and the attacked. But when it’s done, it’s done. And guess what folks? WE’RE DONE! We’ve reached the moun- taintop! And beyond! Doors of opportunity are wide open. Our new challenges are many, but they are — finally, and to our advantage — personal. The hills and mounds we now face as African-American men, women, and children are ours as individuals. There no longer exist mountains that we’re all climbing together. We’ve already reached the summits, and the view

from those vantage points is an expanse of small hills and mounds to be faced by us as individuals. This completion of our struggle is good for us and, as well, good for all other people of varying races and ethnicities. We can now just develop and embrace ourselves without the heavy coat of race. Moreover, we can also be embraced without this coat by others.

Congratulations, on reaching journey’s end! Well, that’s all the time we have for today. We’ll pick up again next week.

Until next time: 

BE WELL, AND KEEP STRETCHING!

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Dr. James Davison, Jr. is a licensed psychologist and university professor. He conducts a private practice in Seattle, Washington, and has appeared on
several nationally-aired programs including The Phil Donahue Show, The
Ken Hamblin Show
, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and
C-SPAN’S Book TV. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of several books – Prisoners Of Our Past, Sweet Release, and the upcoming Paid In Full – related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.

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