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What Does It Mean Today To Be Black In America?
By Talyn Banks

Every morning I have a ritual; first I pray and thank God, prepare myself for the day, check my messages (missed calls, emails, text messages etc.) and go on to read the news.   Recently while on, I clicked on "Specials Reports" which led me to "I-Report: Black in America." asked people in Atlanta (of course!) "What does it mean today to be black in America?" also gave its readers a chance to write in their responses or send in a video.


I reflected on all the great Black Americans from Harriet Tubman to Tony Dungy (the first Black American NFL coach to break boundaries, break's 2007 and still there's a need to break boundaries).  


Then I couldn't ignore the most important factor of the question; "What does it mean today?"  


That's when I began to think about my nephew who's 28 years old in prison on his third strike and another nephew, who once held an NCAA title championship for track and field who's now carrying a gun.  


I thought about Demetrius Perry who was visiting a friend at Drew Middle School, who was killed when gang members ran up on the campus and opened fire on a targeted "black crowd."   Then I thought about Sean Bell from New York who was wrongfully killed by police on his wedding day.  


I thought about the families who are left behind in pain.   

I thought about 14-year-old Cheryl Green who was killed standing on a corner probably laughing with her homegirls waiting to go home.  


I thought of the now black "woman" who used to be a black "man" dancing on a parking meter while intoxicated on Melrose, too ashamed to hold his head up.  


I thought about 17-year-old Matthew Love, who attends Dorsey, aspires to get a degree in financial investment from UCLA or UC Berkeley, who hates his father who takes care of him, yet loves his mother who left him for crack.


I thought of Tyra Banks, an accomplished black supermodel that recently cried and fought back at media scrutiny over her weight gain.


Then I thought of the headlines "African Americans should be happy at this Year's Academy Award nominations."   Huh?   Why?   Then I thought about our children's "role models" Jim Jones, Lil Wayne, Beyonce, Young Jeezy, Rihanna, Ciara.fa real?    


I thought about the South being the new frontier of AIDS in America, not only that, but how African Americans make up 54% of new cases and our women make up 2/3 of those cases as well as the rapid spread among our youth.


I thought back to when I was a teacher at Compton Ave in Watts, CA.   I broke up a fight between two black preschoolers (two babies).   As I led one to the bench, he shouted out to the other "Wait til we get back to the projects, cuz!" (Come on) Then KATRINA!


Before I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the pain of my culture, the Lord reminded of today's progress.  


How Oprah Winfrey opened "The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy" for girls in South Africa. If it takes for a Black American woman to remember her ancestry all the way back to Africa and plant a seed large enough to spill over onto American soil.Let Thy Will Be Done!  


If it takes Faithful Central Bible Church of Inglewood, California to birth one of the city's largest Christian based youth movements "The TAKEOVERS".Let Thy will be Done!  


If it takes the NAACP to develop the "Image Awards" to acknowledge Black Entertainers.Let Thy Will Be Done!  


If it took years of bloodshed, vigils and prayers, and a hopeful, fearless mayor (Villaraigosa) to attack gang violence.Let Thy Will Be Done!  


If it takes the depth of Rev. Al Sharpton's experience and the underlying historical figure Rev. Jesse Jackson to still Let Freedom Ring.Let Thy Will Be Done!


Being Black in America means loving thy neighbor, supporting our children (of all races).   Being an example of a liberated young black woman of God who's not ashamed of the Gospel, enduring long suffering, extending gifts of constant encouragement, dreaming big.   Conquering tainted grounds-I said conquering the tainted grounds of L.A., Inglewood, Compton and Watts [Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Harlem, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Philly.] showcasing the Glory of God, reaping the harvest God promised me, standing, building, pressing, studying, learning, teaching, leading, following leaders who came before me.   Crying, rejoicing, dancing, praising, applauding, celebrating, giving, cheering, supporting, correcting, understanding, acknowledging, relating, helping, trusting, believing, breathing and LIVING!


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