“You are responsible for your life:” The Best Sentence Oprah Ever Uttered

 

About a week before Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th POTUS, the trend of Black people criticizing former President Obama for not “doing enough” for Black people while he was the sitting POTUS re-emerged. When probed, the things that President Obama should have done for the Black people range from reparations to solitarily ending violence in Chicago to increasing funding for inner city schools to turning crack houses into 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom middle-class bungalows.

I won’t mention the fact that these very people will acknowledge that the government has been screwing Black people over since we arrived here so it makes no sense to think that we’d all walk away with back pay plus interest just because the person in our highest office shared a phenotype. I won’t mention the fact that it’s not the president’s job to make sure that people know that it’s unacceptable to kill random people by the time they are old enough to independently navigate society. I won’t even mention the fact that local government has a lot more to do with city policing and that citizens would be much better off taking their concerns to their mayor and councilmembers.  Though I do not agree with every move President Obama did or did not make, you’ll never hear me say that any critique I have of him is due to the fact that he didn’t “do enough” for Black people.

This post isn’t about President Obama or any other political leader, though. This post is about responsibility. Contrary to 2017 logic, personal responsibility is not about denying the social maladies that we all loathe. It is not about blaming people for the problems they face. This is not the “bootstraps” theory. This post is about taking inventory and dealing with life in consideration of reality. I am talking about a serious examination of where we are, how we got there, and how we can excel in spite of the obstacles we may face individually and as a people. I am talking about not allowing issues, be they social or otherwise, keep us in a perpetual state of misery.

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Let me back up a minute. One of the definitions of responsibility is independence in decision-making. In other words, responsibility is a kind of freedom. I’ll go further and say that I believe responsibility is a form of intelligence that must be cultivated so that we are able to exercise it in a variety of situations throughout life. With that in mind, it doesn’t matter who helps you or what assistance any governmental entity offers you; if you don’t understand that your life is your responsibility, it won’t matter.

You will eventually spend all the money and be back in poverty.

You’ll neglect the bungalow and within 5 years, it will become the distressed property it once was.

You won’t take your schooling seriously and end up just as under-educated as you were before the shiny new schools’ doors were opened.

You could be given everything you ask for or everything you think you need and still find yourself in a situation that requires a magic wand if you don’t wisely take advantage of the freedom that is implicit in responsibility.

There are things that only you can do to enrich your life and set you on the trajectory that you desire, and doing those things takes the will to do so. Waiting on the government is a waste of time. By the time the government steps in, you could have saved yourself, your family and a few others. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy because we don’t think or act responsibly, and then we abuse ourselves further by pretending that our mistake is someone else’s to handle.

I said on my personal Facebook page Wednesday that 2017 is the year of being put on notice. I could actually say that we were all put on notice the night of November 8th of last year. We are now sitting under an administration that could be described in a number of ways; harried, unprepared, ignoble, and erratic. If there were ever a time for us to thrust ourselves headlong into the practice of personal responsibility, now would be it. We may not have a crystal ball or political prescience, but I posit that we don’t need either of those things if we are willing to be the chieftain of our own journey.

 

It’s Official! Trump Is The Next POTUS and I Don’t Particularly Care

***Note: I began writing this piece the day of the Electoral College’s final vote, hence the first paragraph. More interesting things to write about came up so I’m just now finishing it.***

National Public Radio (NPR) and several other news outlets just confirmed that the Electoral College has cast its votes for Donald Trump to be the next POTUS. The process of counting the Electoral College votes is usually presided over by the sitting VPOTUS, in this case, Joe Biden. There are a couple of ways that lawmakers can object to their state’s choice but according to an informational write-up by the New York Times before this final vote took place, that hasn’t happened often in this country’s history and per the NPR article, it’s safe to say that it’s not going to happen this time around either.

Now that that’s out of the way, I have to repeat what I’ve been saying all year on my FB page: I am totally unafraid of a Trump presidency. I’ve read and watched people lose it and express all kinds of fear about a Trump presidency. Most of the white people I’ve heard outside of the internet talk about the diplomatic repercussions of a Trump presidency. Most of the people of color I’ve heard express concern talk about the prospective loss of various social programs. People have mentally constructed a future America that looks something like the Hunger Games at best and The Purge at its scariest.

While I intellectually understand those concerns, I don’t share them.

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Let me preface this by saying that I am someone who has had a lifelong battle with panic and anxiety. I know what it’s like to be afraid of everything and nothing all at once and not even be able to articulate what exactly everything and nothing may be. I understand the fear of uncertainty. I understand having to operate in a space where you are unsure if everything will work out the way you need it to. Yet, throughout the campaign cycle, election night, and today (Inauguration Day), nothing in me has said that I should fear Trump being the 45th POTUS.

From your average internet commenter to tenured politicians, Trump has been repeatedly called a “bully.” I don’t have much experience with bullies but what I do know is that they feed off of fear. The few bullies I’ve encountered were nothing without the power that comes from their targets being afraid of them. Knowing that they can cause terror in people’s minds only emboldens them to continue their treachery. Frankly, I believe that Trump never would have made as far as he did without the panic apparatuses running at full speed 24/7 to take every Tweet and use every statement he’s made over the last two decades to further excite an already fretful electorate. I saw him as the class clown out of the GOP nominees and if the media collective had done a better job of ignoring his foolishness, he may have faded into obscurity. Of course, I never underestimate the racism that fuels this society. Calling Blacks lazy and Muslims terrorists will always appeal to a certain pathetic segment of society.

Nevertheless, despite the shitshow that was the confirmation hearings of Betsy DeVos (candidate for Secretary of Education) and Dr. Ben Carson (candidate for HUD Secretary), and the fact that Donald Trump seemingly has an unholy bromance with his partner in narcissism, Vladimir Putin, I still feel confident that we will be just fine over the next four years.

I haven’t deluded myself into believing that Trump has somehow punked us and will keep every policy that our beloved 44th POTUS enacted for our benefit. I don’t believe that the GOP-led House and Senate will suddenly see the 8-year error of their ways and suddenly start to operate with the bulk of the American constituency in mind.  I’ve simply decided to trust that no matter how much of a trainwreck the new administration may end up being, I will always be secure. Our parents, grandparents, and beyond survived much worse than an unfit leader and a merciless law-making body. Surely we can too.

With that in mind, stay focused. Take care of your business. Make wise decisions and if you don’t know what to do, get good advice from someone who does. Try to be as prepared as possible for what these next four years may throw your way. Be your own rudder and do not leave yourself defenseless. Do not exchange fear for folly. If you choose to fight, to be a revolutionary, remember that you and yours are the most important beneficiaries of your work. Take time to live life and even enjoy it when you can.