Shifting of the Paradigm

Times Have Changed But One Fact Remains; Black Youth Will Not Be Silenced

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday it seems appropriate to ask how things have changed in the struggle for equality.  Milestones like The Double V Campaign launched by the Pittsburgh Courier during World War II, and the bus Boycott in Alabama find their places in an era marked by overt racism. These events documented the zeal with which African Americans fought against injustice, while today’s generation has often been criticized for being too comfortable.

A recent article on AOL BlackVoices names ten modern-day Civil Rights leaders.  Among them are entrepreneurs, artists and politicians.  Their goals include improving the education system, denouncing the degrading images of black women in the media, and encouraging Black communities to get involved with politics.

According to a poll on the site, out of 6,366 voters, about 70 percent say that today’s generation pays little attention to civil rights. Twenty-two percent believe that civil rights issues are simply approached differently than in the 60s. 

It’s clear that much of the controversy has to do with one’s outlook on tradition and culture.  Over time, perceptions change, sometimes for the worse and other times enabling the advancement of a society.  Once again, times have changed; politically charged Hip-Hop poetry ciphers have replaced secret protest meetings.

While many of the same civil rights issues remain, young Black Americans feel that their culture is just as important as their parents’ and grandparents’ cultures were to them.   In the 21st century, the voices of the Black youth are shouting, "We will not be silenced"  It’s in the booming base lines of popular music, it’s in the new millennium spin to vintage gear.  It’s in the profession of faith by young Evangelicals. It’s invading every level of the corporate world.  Black America never did have just one face.  Yet, growth "as a people" will still be judged.  And what kind of link will this generation add to the chain of inventors, protest leaders, artists, and educators?

Each generation has its own giants to defeat.  It’s certainly not naive to say that some of those giants have been passed down though the generations and that some will be passed on from this one.  In any case, this generation cannot and should not be the spitting image of its predecessors, but hopefully when its history is written the authors will say that there is indeed a resemblance.