African-American Identity: Beyond the Struggle

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 of African-Americans is recognizing the need (Nay, the obligation) to move beyond the limitations inherent in the romanticism of continued struggle. 


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, the 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 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!

African-American Identity

However, like any war or struggle, attrition is wearing, 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 mountaintop! And beyond! 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! 

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Dr. James Davison, Jr. is an African-American 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, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of several books - Prisoners Of Our Past and Sweet Release - related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.