- Anthony J. Mungin
Drowning in a sea your firsts, false narratives, and fanfare
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Letting the depths of black America's worth speak for itself
I too struggle each day to bring clarity to the one burning question on black people’s minds. Just where does an overzealous race get off, getting out in front of black people, onerously broadcasting their strides, not with good intentions but with ulterior motives?
I used to think the slogan For Us, by Us actually stood for something—like preserving a black races' true identity. That is, until white people began prefacing black people’s ground-breaking triumphs with, “The first black this or the first African American that.” Not only has this sullying of our monumental achievements—skeptically affixing them with labels as if they are unexpected—become the new normal, but it has also become downright suffocating.
To begin with, black people already know their worth and know too that white people have no genuine interest in promoting the black race or its agenda. Unless of course, there is some il-gotten-gain or self-serving interest attached. Under normal circumstances, our names remain corrupted in their mouths and reflected by the meager benefits we reap.
Just look around. There is no African American president with a monopoly on power nor does the black community control any major industries like pharmaceuticals and agriculture.
Now then, why would anyone dare think a minority race so gullible as to believe the masses genuinely give a rip about its ‘firsts’? Just as quickly as our black prodigies are propelled to their pinnacle of success, there is an intense movement aimed at taking them down.
Undoubtedly, we all recall Mitch McConnell’s meetings in secret places about making America’s first black president, a one-term president. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris—the first black Vice President—continues to have her name mocked, thrashed, and ridiculed and is well on her way to being the most hated woman in America. More recently, we've seen the frivolous indictment of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, five months out from her reelection. And just the other day, a black NFL head coach (David Cully) was fired with speculations already mounting that his brief tenure was predetermined from the word go.
As is typical, instead of condemning the disloyal acts of an industry intentionally exploiting a black man, the first words out of sportscaster’s mouths were that Cully was one of only two African Americans in the NFL. Really? No kidding? Did we actually need a bunch of self-serving blowhards telling us what we’ve always known—that the powers that be are hellbent on ensuring a race that has been historically underrepresented remains that way?
None of it should come as great surprise given the unsavory schemes deployed throughout history. While not so shocking, it comes with a sting that similar inequities are being repeated today. Proliferating like wildfire throughout the NBA, NHL, in senior executive positions, CEO jobs, political appointments and everything in between.
And yes, we must go there. How are blacks ever to believe these celebratory stances to be genuine when a white Olympic winner (Michael Phelps) who smoked pot recreationally, retained his medals of honor while a little black female gymnast (Sha'Carri Richardson) who took one toke was immediately banned from competing? Better still, what meaning does “firsts’ have when another young, black man has just been fatally shot by a racially motivated cop; a black man cannot lodge at Doubletree Hotel, or cash his paycheck at Sterling Bank, or birdwatch in New York's Central Park without being harassed by 'Becky with the Good Hair'?
All the same, it’s important to record that it is not so much these commemorations black people frown upon; rather, it is who is doing the recognition. Flagrantly, our vanquishers dare to be the first out front to chronical our success when, in fact, it is by their hands that Black people are always fighting from behind.
I am way past believing these disingenuous “first” and “first-time” descriptors are simply a matter of a white race’s good deeds. Neither can I fathom a race’s feigned ignorance about the subliminal messages it intentionally sends—that black people’s best days are behind them, and there is nothing more to see.
Noticeably, there are various conundrums about which I yet marvel. That still—in 2022—despite their tremendous geniuses, black people are continuing to rack up firsts. That because of white fragility, an opposing race still has its foot on the breaks. And even though the only barrier blacks have not broken is the color barrier, there seems so little solidarity from those who cannot stand it or feel compelled to downplay our leaving a mark in a white supremacist world.
By now we’d agree that all individuals—race and culture aside—are capable of the seemly impossible, and skin color or tone has never been a part of the equation. Despite being forced into indentured servitude, black people have exemplified themselves as a force to be reckoned, an accounting with which no other subgroup can compete! I cannot help but feel ashamed for my white brothers who’ve placed long-standing landmines in our paths with little to show. Still, we rise! We rise because we have always taken stock in our own racial pride and have never required the unsolicited fanfare from those whose hidden agendas bare their naked souls.