By Jineea Butler
We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
With 2014 right around the corner, I always wondered what was the target date for someday? When I sing the song I feel vibrations from the ancestors who owned it when they sang and brought down walls like Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. It’s inspirational, it’s therapeutic and it’s powerful for a group of people to sing, pray and believe in one accord.
For instance, on August 1963, 22-year-old folksinger Joan Baez, led a crowd of 300,000 in singing “We Shall Overcome” at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recited the words from “We Shall Overcome” in his final speech delivered in Memphis in 1968, before his assassination, “We Shall Overcome” was sung days later by more than 50,000 attendees at Dr. King’s funeral. Farmworkers in the United States later sang the song in Spanish during strikes and grape boycotts of the late 1960s, and it was notably sung by the U.S.Senator Robert F. Kennedy, when he led anti-apartheid crowds in choruses from the rooftop of his car while touring South Africa in 1966.
In many ways, we have overcome. You should never forget that those who dreamed the first dreams of freedom dreamed us all the way into the presidency of the United States. That alone is an accomplishment that would have some turning in the grave and some finally resting in peace. But the reality is that we are further behind than we were in those times. And we know it. We are being outperformed in every area except sports and Hip Hop. And Hip Hop is now on the edge.
Let’s take a look at what is really holding us hostage. Is it the “Man” everybody mysteriously refers to? Is it because we get distracted at a moment’s notice? Iis it because we trust other people before we trust ourselves? Is it because we spend most of our time chasing illusions and creating situations that are not conducive to meeting our goals? What is it? Why does it seem like we are the only race without a plan, the only race who looks at one another and despises the beauty they see? Why are we the only race that tries to undermine one another for capital gain? Is this by design or did we evolve into this state of consciousness?
We have to stop making excuses for everything that is wrong and just make it right. We are not living up to our fullest potential and again we know it. I need you to dig deep within yourself and take off the mask, allow the layers and layers of defense mechanisms to fall to the wayside and have the courage to look the real you in the face. Have the courage to be greater than your best self. Have the courage to say “I don’t know” when you don’t.
Do you wonder why more and more people are expressing their contempt for African-Americans in this country? Is it purely hate or is it how we carry ourselves? Is it how we talk to one another? How we talk to our children? Is it how we live our lives out loud and carefree? Is it that we are not concerned about the important things but consumed with nonsense? Is it because our families are in disarray with no structure and no blueprint for the future? Or, is it because people are still only concerned with the color of our skin? What if we bring up the content of our character, if we were judged on that alone, how would we do?
As we mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, think about the path that this great man chose to follow, not only for himself but for the liberation of his people. He has overcome. Think about the path that you currently follow and why. How does it measure up? Are you anywhere near the man or woman you should be in faith and in truth? Are you making up your own rules based on how you feel and how you have been hurt? Are you an asset or dead weight to the race? Be honest.
When will someday arrive? I have raised a lot of questions, but there is a simple answer? It will have arrived when we decided it’s going to get here.
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union is a Hip Hop Analyst who investigates the trends and behaviors of the community and delivers programming that solves the Hip Hop Dilemma. She can be reached at email@example.com or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay