Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write this letter to you, perhaps from a point of some measure of ignorance, but too, from a position of the concept of opportunity. I write to you, not only to slightly take issue with you, for as the good book reads, He takes care of us, but He does not hesitate to punish us. I write to you, for the sake of a generation, for the sake of the brotherhood, for the sake of a hundred years; perhaps with the hope that we can correct that which has not gone right; that we can make a difference to the young ones that come after us. That although equality, opportunity and other desirable values that define this community may not come to all of us, we will be the shoulders that others who will achieve greatness will stand upon and some day, some day, there will be a real brotherhood.
Empathy, which I feel for the brotherhood, can never give me the same experiences. I may not have had the misfortune to know how it feels to be turned away from a job, to be denied a loan, a house, or to just be called by some name. I do not know the stories of the Deep South, where the brotherhood suffered immeasurably. Their pain, their suffering, cannot be wiped away; that the psychological scars can be easily healed. I do not want to suggest that there is any semblance of fairness, for one cannot race a bicycle against a rally car and hope to win. But I will also encourage you not to lie down on the rail tracks and refuse to move, for the train will come right through, and we will be worse off for it.
Instead, I wish to share my little wisdom, garnered from living in places where opportunities are few and far between, because the brotherhood that looks like you and I is not only governed by those things we hold dear, and suppose are advantages. In a country run by the brotherhood, I did have to depend on the same benefactors that have not always treated the brotherhood fairly. I come from a place that could use the same opportunities that I see here in terms of “help wanted”, or “Open only to US Citizen or Permanent Resident”. I look at these as invitations to get even in a nice way; in a way that does collective good to the brotherhood.
Perhaps two hundred years of history has taught the brotherhood lessons I have not learnt, matters that I cannot get to learn and appreciate in the one year I have been here. Perhaps, though, I have read a couple of books and have an idea where matters are at. Perhaps matters here, at least for the brotherhood, are almost at the same place that they are on the continent. Perhaps we do not see these things, until we see others who do not have that which we so take for granted. Perhaps if we do look, we will see what may not be so apparent, and use it to great advantage.
It is for these reasons that I write to fathers, and urge you to teach your sons the value of hard work. Tell them that it will not be easy, for it is written: survival for the fittest. It will be brutal; they will be ridiculed by their kin and kith; by friend and foe; they will be discouraged by the system; there will be those that will have no faith in them, or fail to see the point in doing anything; there will be doomsayers; there will be skeptics, and there will be painful decisions to make; relationships to build or break; there will be struggle, toil and tears, and there will be joy; oh, there will be joy! There will be checks, limousines, businesses, presidential suites, CEO stamped on seals with their names; and most importantly, there will be models.
Teach them, mothers of the brotherhood that their place is not in jail. Let them know that there is money to build jails, but there is also money for scholarships and money to build schools. Let them know that if they don’t drive the buses, or clean the buildings, apartments and offices; that if they don’t man MacDonald’s’ and Schnucks’ checkouts, groceries will still be bought. Teach them that their place is not defined; it is what they want it to be. Teach them the value of hard work; teach them that they will be the difference they wish to see in their families, in their communities, in their counties and their countries. Let them know that they will be the mentors to their sons and daughters; that they will be the proverbial good example.
Be role models for them; let them believe in themselves and practice these teachings. Tell them, oh preacher men that the last rites at death-row do not have to be performed on members of the brotherhood. Let them know that not one bullet comes out of the factory with their name on it; but somehow members of the brotherhood end up stopping most of them. Let the brotherhood appreciate the delight of smoke-free environments; of drug and alcohol free neighborhoods, where young maidens and young lads can be “all that they want to be”. Preach, preachers, that welfare was not created for the brotherhood; that God did indeed create us equal, and what “they” can achieve, we can achieve too. Teach them the parable of the “rich dad, poor dad”, and let them aspire to not only work at the business, but to own it.
Teach them, ye who have been assigned the responsibility to see that they take over the corporate boards of America; to have equal representation in the Senate and House, bring forth leaders with such vision as Malcolm, Martin Luther, Senator Obama and other men of note; men and women who, together with the brotherhood, will step up to the task and challenge of claiming a place that makes us other than a villain. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to establish honor that is particular to the brotherhood; urge you to let the young ones go out there and prove that there is nothing that confines us to jail, to ghettos, to MacDonald’s, to homelessness, to welfare systems, to bad grades in class, to being statistics in the local morgues, to being the guys with the foulest language…
Teach them, brethren, that apart from the good of the brotherhood, it will serve them, individually, to be the best they can achieve. Teach them that they construct ballparks that sit sixty thousand, and that there are thirty members in a team. Let them know, that the theory of probability will treat them rough, as it does everyone else. Teach them good entrepreneurship. Teach them to have a back-up plan. Teach them about the brotherhood, about our family and cultural values; teach them respect, responsibility. Teach them the important lessons in life. Walk them through the important lessons that only dads can teach sons; lessons that only mothers can teach daughters. Teach them that they are the future; that without them, without their assuming responsibility today, tomorrow will bring more of the same.
Teach them. Impress upon them; and don’t give up. Teach them. For at the end of the day, something will come out of it. Read them this letter from your minarets; from your pulpits, from your basketball practice; from your community and neighborhood hangouts. From your grocery stores; from their first tentative steps. Teach them; and don’t give up on them, for you are, you will be, doing a noble thing.
Thank you, brothers and sisters.