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.
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.