By K. Braeden Anderson
Black people in America are at a crossroads. Do we wait for white people to stop being racist and begin treating us equally? Or do we assume control of our own future by not just overcoming and fighting back, but by playing offense and winning the game… despite knowing the game is rigged against us?
Waiting and hoping for eventual social change is not a winning strategy. For Black History Month, consider the following steps we as Black people can take to gain control of our future:
1) Accept We Have Power: Black success in America is not solely dependent on white people becoming more socially conscious, more apologetic, more “aware” of their privilege, or “fixing” racism. White people are not in control. We do not need help, permission, or acceptance from white America to succeed. We need to focus on variables within our control in order to overcome learned helplessness and realize our destinies.
2) Become What We Have Not Seen: When our race is not represented in a profession or an entire industry, we may have difficulty picturing ourselves making it there. However, a journey like the women of “Hidden Figures” begins by a) shutting out racist ideologies; b) figuring out who we are, what we want to be, and what it’s going to take to get us there; and c) practicing RAD: Refusing to Accept Defeat.
3) Bet on Black Knowledge: Never bet against the power of education. With the right work ethic and the desire to pursue knowledge, you will gain full access to privilege. Do not envy those who appear to have privilege — those who earn their privilege keep it for good, and those who inherit it due to social status or skin color are forever liable to lose it.
4) Deploy Tactful Empathy When Confronted With Bias: As a Black basketball player with tattoos, I learned to accept and proactively head off my college professors’ propensity for harboring bias against me with tactful empathy. Hidden or apparent, as Black people we will not escape bias. But if we can accept this fact, we can learn to identify it, plan for it, and defeat it.
5) Build One Community: The division of America is the devil’s plan. It is the enemy of progress. We have to find common ground. But a healthy relationship with positive social discourse among Black and white communities can only begin when we realize our power — only then can we work toward building one community.
Present circumstances will not dictate what we are capable of. While we may endure struggles that are beyond our control, I know that struggle breeds strength of character. Unbreakable character. Our Blackness is power. Nothing can stop us.
About: Top lawyer and entrepreneur Braeden Anderson leads the movement #BlackResilience, topic of his new book, “BLACK RESILIENCE: The Blueprint for Black Triumph in the Face of Racism.” He made headlines in 2020 as the first Division I college basketball player who was also a law student, going on to be hired by the “Obama firm.” Learn more at BlackResilienceFoundation.com.