Should Blacks strive to be the "Best . . . " : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

During the early years of my career, I was almost always the only black person in that field, that office, that position, etc. In most cases, my promotions came as a result of my being head and shoulders about my white counterparts, so I always tried to be the best at whatever my job was. While others were recreating, I was studying. I was not alone in this, most upwardly mobile black found themselves in the same position, twice as good. Now, it seems that we as blacks are satisfied with being the "best black , rather than excelling in our professions. Shouldn't we aspire and encourage our children to be the best at our profession? The Williams sisters in tennis and Tiger Woods in golf come to mind as examples of persons of color aspiring to be the best they can be. Yet, magazines such as Ebony, still publish the list of top Black Preachers, etc. I want to be the best preacher that I can be regardless of color. Seems to me, that if one says that one is or aspires to being the "best black" implies inferiority or the inability to compete with the majority population. What are your thoughts on this?


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2001


I would be very surprised, and quite dismayed, if I found anyone that aspired to be the "best black" anything. And I don't think too many people consider themselves in those terms. That notion is simplistic. Ebony magazine's "Best Black" lists are labels that they use to help them sell magazines. The people in those lists came to be included in those lists by NOT aspiring to be the "best black," but by aspiring to be the best. They just happen to be black, and as Ebony caters to the black masses, it's convenient and profitable for them to publish "black" lists.

Again, people are drawn to things and people that are, or seem, familiar to them. If People magazine published a "Best Preachers" list, to use your example, they probably would not sell to very many black people. The assumption would be that there would not be very many black people listed therein, even if the list contained nothing but black folks. In the same vein, if there is even the notion that anyone in Ebony's "Best" list might not be black, they run the risk of turning away consumers. And if the people that are featured in those lists look to those lists for validation, then we have an even bigger problem than settling for being the "best black." I contend that those lists are for those persons that do not do the things that would allow them to be included in that list.

This brings to mind something I heard once some years ago. Cornel West was giving a lecture to an audience that was racially mixed, and probably quite balanced, as Dr. West is quite the orator. In the midst of making a point about the black community, he said something to the effect of "To my white brothers and sisters, I love you all, but I gotta get my own house straight before I can go out and try to fix the neighborhood." I think that black folks concern for the success of other black folks, and in this case, Ebony magazine's "best black" lists, speak directly to that issue. Despite how far we've come, there are those among us that still believe that going to white professionals is safer than going to black ones, even though the black person's qualifications and track record might outshine the white person's. And there are those that still don't believe blacks have achieved as much as we have. AND there are those that believe that we've come quite far, and can sit back for a while and bask in the glow. All of those are misconceptions, and I think the "best black" lists, while continuing the color distinction, still give hope to the underachiever and information to the ignorant.

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2001

I think when we are striving to be the "best for God" then nothing else matters. God has called us "his children" he has promised to love us and protect us. There is no greater "Best" than accepting Jesus Christ. Yes some of us will be the only black person in a company or our profession. I live in a state that is 98 percent white. I do not put the pressure on myself to be the "Best black person" I like to think I am known for my Christian attributes. I too read the list of "Best Black Preachers" and I rejoice, because these brothers and sisters have excelled in their profession because of what they do on behalf of God. I think we should be proud of our heritage, and culture. God is please with creating some of his children, mocha, caramel, ebony etc. for he is the master artist. He made us the color that we are. Let's honor God by being the best ONLY for him. It is truly amazing grace that we as a people are here.

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2001

I believe that everyone can narrow the gap between current performance and their potential. However, be reminded that in John 15 that Jesus said " Apart from Me you can do nothing" which means that no one will reach their potential apart from Jesus. As an African-American, I agree with W.J. Richardson that we have become complacent with some of our gains in the last couple of decades. As a professional who is aware of the abysmal statistics related to us Blacks in the areas of education, crime, health, housing, unemployment, and etc., I find it frustrating that no national Black organization has adopted a strategy for addressing these problems. The National Urban League will be releasing THE STATE OF BLACK AMERICA this July which will further describe our problem. As a child, I was blessed to be born to a christian mother who established a christian home. I also remember the very talented and positive Black role models that appeared on television in the mid 60's. I recall that we knew a week ahead of time which Blacks were going to be on TV because we read Jet magazine. We all huddled around the TV on Sunday night at 8:00 pm to watch one of us on the Ed Sullivan show. I am proud to say that very few Black celebrities embarassed us or denigrated us at that time. They set a lofty standard for us to reach. Today, I feel as though the American media bends over backwards to put Blacks on TV who are not setting a high standard for anyone. It is important for us to have positive role models and an enriched environment for Blacks to be the best in their vocation. It appears that since the civil rights legislation opened the doors to some progress in the 1960's that in the 1980's that there has been recidivism amongst us. I say that we Black folk need to establish a long term strategy for addressing our problems.


-- Anonymous, July 12, 2001

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