What Black History Month Means To Me

I grew up in Lynwood California. I went to Washington Elementary School. One of my first friends was a person who was from Argentina and he was a boy of color, though I never thought of it that way; he was just my friend.

Then Junior High came and I went to Hosler, also in Lynwood. As a poor white kid in a mostly black and brown neighborhood, I got my ass kicked too many times. My house was even robbed by a black kid named Tamlon, whose dad was a cop for the Lynwood police department (before the city lost their police department and it got taken over by the county Sheriffs). Tamlon was not very rich, but I was poorer, as my stepdad was an illegal immigrant, who along with my mom, supported us working at a nearby bowling alley and restaurant called Pasqual’s. It was fun as a kid hanging out there because I loved bowling. I still love the smell of a bowling alley.

Because I would get robbed or hassled everyday, we finally had to move from Lynwood to Texas, but rednecks hated Californians, so it was back to live with my Dad in the MacArthur Park area in Los Angeles. I still got hassled but now it was by Mexicans and Filipinos, they hated poor white kids, too. And then Roots came on TV in 1977 and that is when I realized I needed to learn to run fast. If I could catch an earlier 2:10 Vermont Avenue MTD bus, I would avoid being hassled on the 2:30 bus, something I dreaded everyday in the 8th and 9th grade, getting hassled by people of color.

Black people as a group started being nicer to me as I got older. I learned early that they didn’t care much for my kind, partly because they were poor, like me, but also because its tough getting out of the streets and you have to learn to survive, and that will not change until people stop having unwanted children who grow up in single-parent homes.

It is a real hardship on mothers (Black or otherwise) who have to provide for their child or children and generate revenue.  The government helps but ‘ain’t nobody ever got rich on government welfare,’ and therein lies the predictable circle of poverty, which is why our leadership is terrible.

Look at Baltimore, look at South LA (Maxine Waters, are you listening?), look at Detroit and Chicago. These are bad examples of leadership. They give us months to honor the great leaders of the Black community, but Blacks are still being deprived of real development opportunities because the money intended for them instead goes to bureaucracy and “government planning,” i.e., government largesse, wasted for generations but curiously, the same promises get made year after year.

Black history month can celebrate the greatness of Black Americans throughout history, but unless we demand better leadership from our elected officials today, the only thing we will ever celebrate will only the past.

Black history month is condescending to African-Americans because poverty for them still exists disproportionately as a result of failed policies from generations of failed leadership, mostly from the Democratic party, the party of endless hope, which is why they keep us tethered to the past and not the present.

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