Being Black In America is Hard

Shay Smith,
Kansas City, MO.

So the other day, a friend of mine, myself, and other friends, got into a very heated discussion about the plight of blackness in America. Essentially, one friend made the point that black men have a greater struggle than black women. I immediately became defensive. As I spoke with vehemence and statistics, I realized that his recants were still aimed at the GREATER struggle. I realized…he wasn’t listening. He wasn’t listening because my rebuttal to his original statement was this -“To simply be black in America, whether male or female, is a struggle within itself.” So, I began to wonder if he might have been on to something. Is one’s struggle greater than the other? Is the black man in the most desolate position between the two? There’s no way I could agree with that. Why? Because I see very few children being raised by single, black fathers. Because although it is on the rise, I see fewer black women dating and marrying outside of their race than black men. Because black women are objectified in the misogynistic realm of rap music with lyrics that speak only to the glory of her anatomy and ability to provide sexual pleasure with rare, if ever, mention of her spiritual capacity and womanly worth. Yet, according to recent statistics black women are the most educated demographic group and are quickly rising to positions of power in the workforce. Why? Because many black women function with this frame of mind: Make moves, or make excuses.
With that, I also see black men being senselessly gunned down by one another and the very men who are sworn to protect them. I see black men being given extended prison sentences for minor offenses. I see black men being criminalized by the media and berated by their own women. I see black men being overlooked for promotions, passed by taxi cabs, and psychologically and spiritually down-trodden by the chaos that generations have handed down to them. As if that’s not enough, I see black children without guidance because mothers are tired and fathers are absent and drugs are rampant and TVs are prominent and song lyrics are dominant and politicians are crafty and babies are hungry and rent is due and guns are nearly free and life…life is simply kicking their asses.

People probably think that Christians don’t talk like that, but we do. We do because we are human. We do because it is when we see the reality of ourselves we cry out. We do because we serve a God who has allowed tumult into our lives and we have yet to grow and learn from it. And I remember…I remember God’s promises.

He says to me in his word that “In this life there will be trouble, but take heart!” (John 16:33) He’s telling me to trust him, no matter how hard it is. He says to me “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”(Jeremiah 29:11) He’s telling me that he has it, so instead of freaking out, I can try to chill out. He calls unto to me to “Draw nearer to Him and He will draw nearer to me.” (James 4:8) He’s telling me that I can’t believe in Him and let Him handle it if I’m not close enough to Him to trust Him. The truth of the matter is that the argument at the inception of this piece is null and void. We were told by divine word that in this life there will be trials. With that alone it is understood that no one struggle is greater than another. In short, to simply be black in America is a struggle within itself.


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