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Commentary: Where Are We Going As A People?


By Gary A. Johnson – Founder & Publisher (Black Men In

February 18, 2024

This is my first posted commentary in over a year.  Let me begin this commentary by making four (4) things clear:

  1. This is my attempt to offer solutions and a constructive dialogue about challenges and problems in the Black community. Problems that if not solved will negatively impact at least one generation, possibly more.
  2. Unless specifically noted, when I reference Black people, I am not talking about all Black people in America. I am talking about what appears to be a “critical mass” of folks who are impacting the culture in a negative way.
  3. Fear is paralyzing to many, particularly, I believe that many of our elected leaders are afraid and have forgotten “who they work for.” It sounds cliché, but many of these leaders are Black and they have not been held accountable.  As a result, they need to be “called out and removed” from their jobs.
  4. I am not afraid to speak my truth as I see it. And I am not afraid to fail or be fired.

Now that we got that out the way, my hope is that this article will start a constructive dialogue with critical conversations that can take place amongst us, and eventually with others outside of our race to slow down and curb this negative, senseless, and quite honestly ratchet behavior that we are inflicting upon ourselves.

I understand that if one is to look deep, you will find racism at the root of everything.  I am suggesting that we don’t have to look that deep.  Racism is like rain.  When it rains some of the tools at our disposal are umbrellas, boots, and wearable rain gear.  We need to have the same attitude toward racism.  It will always be there with us in some form or fashion.  I am not saying that we should STOP fighting racism.  I am saying that while we continue to fight racism, we need to be smart and use the tools at our disposal to fight it.  Tools like the common sense that those who came before us taught us.  Words like PRIDE, ACCOUNTABILITY, DECENCY, RESPECT, EDUCATION, CARING and COMMITMENT seem to be foreign in the Black community.

I was discussing the plight of Black America and the impact of social media with a Black male friend who lives in the DMV (Washington, DC metropolitan area).  He said, “When I walk down the street or go out of my house, I am NOT afraid of a white Police Officer.  I have my head on a swivel looking out for the young teenager walking with a hoodie and wearing a mask pulling his pants up every 10-seconds.  That’s who I’m afraid of.” 

We are living amongst a generation who grew up in an era where violence was glorified, and the messenger was music, movies, television, books, magazine, and social media.  Why are we surprised at what the data reflects?

Not familiar with the data?  Let me share a few FACTS, but keep in mind, data can be twisted and manipulated.  When you look at crime and violence statistics, you’re dealing with data that has been reported.  How many assaults are NOT reported?

Here are a few things to think about when thinking about crime.  I’m about to bring our elected officials into the discussion.  No matter the race, criminals look for soft targets and soft target areas.  In other words, criminals are less likely to take the chance and commit crime in neighborhoods that don’t have a strong police presence or where there is a perception that crime is soft.  There are a lot of high crime areas with Black elected officials, and appointed Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, and Community Organizers who appear to be soft on crime, especially with youth under 18 years of age.  Some of these young people have over a dozen prior criminal offenses before age 15, reminiscent of a “catch and release” program.  This leads to a culture of acceptance when it comes to crime and violence.  Think about it.  Certain zip codes are associated with crime, and it’s simply accepted.

OK, back to the data.  Most violent crime in the United States happens between people of the same race.  Fitz Hill founded the Derek Olivier Research Institute (DORI) to study the problem of gun violence among Black males. Here are some of the statistics from DORI:

  • A Black male is murdered by another Black male every 50 minutes on average in this country.
  • Between 18 and 25 Black males are killed each day in the United States.
  • Homicide is the No. 1 killer of Black males ages 1-44.

The following research data come from Everytown Research.  This is an organization that builds awareness about the complexities of gun violence in America so that every person—policymakers, volunteers, cultural influencers, business leaders, and more—can learn about the issues and become part of the solutions.  Here are some of the key findings on gun violence survivors in America:

Gun Violence:

  • 59 percent of adults or someone they know or care about have experienced gun violence in their lifetime.
  • 71 percent of Black adults, 60 percent of Latinx adults, and 58 percent of white adults or someone they know or care about have experienced gun violence in their lifetimes.

Gun Deaths:

  • 1 in 5 adults know or care about someone who was killed with a gun.
  • 1 in 3 Black and Latin people know or care about someone who was killed with a gun.
  • 77 percent of adults say they believe children today are more at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence than they themselves were as children.

When I survey the Black community, it seems that we struggle to get out and vote, pursue education or productive endeavors.  Many of us spend more time and energy trying to beat the “system” rather than improve or be a part of the “system.”  Many of us seem to take pride in devising new ways to spend money on depreciating assets, clothes, cars, and schemes that do nothing or very little to improving our way of life and we pass that on to our families because they’re not enough people in our circle to model the appropriate behavior.  I’ve seen grandmothers on national television dressed wearing orange wigs, bucket hats, fake furs, and “pimp and street-lady” clothing. 

There are social media videos of young kids ages 3 to 5 years old cursing and swinging punches at Police Officers.  There are videos of scantily dressed young Black young women “twerking” on moving police cars during demonstrations.

About 20 years ago, I posted key segments of a book, given to me by my grandmother Genevieve, written by Nannie Helen Burroughs.  “The 12 Things The Negro Must Do For Himself,” was a booklet sold in the early 1900’s.  The retail price for this booklet was 10 cents.  The book sold for 10 cents.

The following is an overview of the key principles of the book.  Click here to get additional details.  I am suggesting that all of us read or re-read this book and do their level best to get more closely aligned with the principles Nannie Helen Burroughs believed were essential for Black people.

  1. The Negro Must Learn To Put First Things First.  The First Things Are:  Education; Development of Character Traits; A Trade and Home Ownership.

The Negro puts too much of his earning in clothes, in food, in show and in having what he calls “a good time.”  Dr. Kelly Miller said, “The Negro buys what he WANTS and begs for what he Needs.”  Too true!

  1. The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk To Do For Him What He Can Do For Himself. 

It is the “Divine Plan” that the strong shall help the weak, but even God does not do for man what man can do for himself.  The Negro will have to do exactly what Jesus told the man (in John 5:8) to do–Carry his own load – “Take up your bed and walk.”

  1. The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children And His Home Clean And Make The Surroundings In Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive.

He must learn to “run his community up”–not down.  We can segregate by law; we integrate only by living.  Civilization is not a matter of race; it is a matter of standards.  Believe it or not–someday, some race is going to outdo the Anglo-Saxon, completely.  It can be the Negro race, if the Negro gets sense enough.  Civilization goes up and down that way.

  1. The Negro Must Learn To Dress More Appropriately For Work And For Leisure.

Knowing what to wear–how to wear it–when to wear it and where to wear it, are earmarks of common sense, culture and also an index to character.

  1. The Negro Must Make His Religion An Everyday Practice And Not Just A Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Emotional Affair.
  2. The Negro Must Highly Resolve To Wipe Out Mass Ignorance.

The leaders of the race must teach and inspire the masses to become eager and determined to improve mentally, morally, and spiritually, and to meet the basic requirements of good citizenship.

We should initiate an intensive literacy campaign in America, as well as in Africa.  Ignorance–satisfied ignorance–is a millstone about the neck of the race.  It is democracy’s greatest burden.

Social integration is a relationship attained as a result of the cultivation of kindred social ideals, interests and standards.

It is a blending process that requires time, understanding and kindred purposes to achieve.  Likes alone and not laws can do it.

  1. The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up To His “Color” And To White People’s Attitude.

The truth of the matter is that good service and conduct will make senseless race prejudice fade like mist before the rising sun.

God never intended that a man’s color shall be anything other than a badge of distinction.  It is high time that all races were learning that fact.  The Negro must first QUALIFY for whatever position he wants.  Purpose, initiative, ingenuity, and industry are the keys that all men use to get what they want.  The Negro will have to do the same.  He must make himself a workman who is too skilled not to be wanted, and too DEPENDABLE not to be on the job, according to promise or plan.  He will never become a vital factor in industry until he learns to put into his work the vitalizing force of initiative, skill, and dependability.  He has gone “RIGHTS” mad and “DUTY” dumb.

  1. The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits.

He must make a brand-new reputation for himself in the world of labor.  His bad job habits are absenteeism, funerals to attend, or a little business to look after.  The Negro runs an off and on business.  He also has a bad reputation for conduct on the job–such as petty quarreling with other help, incessant loud talking about nothing; loafing, carelessness, due to lack of job pride; insolence, gum chewing and–too often–liquor drinking.  Just plain bad job habits!

  1. He Must Improve His Conduct In Public Places.

Taken as a whole, he is entirely too loud and too ill-mannered.

There is much talk about wiping out racial segregation and also much talk about achieving integration.

Segregation is a physical arrangement by which people are separated in various services.

It is definitely up to the Negro to wipe out the apparent justification or excuse for segregation.

The only effective way to do it is to clean up and keep clean.  By practice, cleanliness will become a habit and habit becomes character.

  1. The Negro Must Learn How To Operate Business For People–Not For Negro People, Only.

To do business, he will have to remove all typical “earmarks,” business principles; measure up to accepted standards and meet stimulating competition, graciously–in fact, he must learn to welcome competition.

  1. The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have To Come Down Out Of The Air.  He Is Too Inflated Over Nothing.  He Needs An Experience Similar To The One That Ezekiel Had–(Ezekiel 3:14-19).  And He Must Do What Ezekiel Did

Otherwise, through indifference, as to the plight of the masses, the Negro, who thinks that he has escaped, will lose his own soul.  It will do all leaders good to read Hebrew 13:3, and the first Thirty-seven Chapters of Ezekiel.

A race transformation itself through its own leaders and its sensible “common people.”  A race rises on its own wings or is held down by its own weight.  True leaders are never “things apart from the people.”  They are the masses.  They simply got to the front ahead of them.  Their only business at the front is to inspire to masses by hard work and noble example and challenge them to “Come on!”  Dante stated a fact when he said, “Show the people the light and they will find the way!”

There must arise within the Negro race a leadership that is not out hunting bargains for itself.  A noble example is found in the men and women of the Negro race, who, in the early days, laid down their lives for the people.  Their invaluable contributions have not been appraised by the “latter-day leaders.”  In many cases, their names would never be recorded, among the unsung heroes of the world, but for the fact that white friends have written them there.

“Lord, God of Hosts, Be with us yet.”

The Negro of today does not realize that, but, for these exhibits A’s, that certainly show the innate possibilities of members of their own race, white people would not have been moved to make such princely investments in lives and money, as they have made, for the establishment of schools and for the on-going of the race.

  1. The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends.  “Remember.”

Read Deuteronomy 24:18. Deuteronomy rings the big bell of gratitude.  Why?  Because an ingrate is an abomination in the sight of God.  God is constantly telling us that “I the Lord thy God delivered you”–through human instrumentalities.

The American Negro has had and still has friends–in the North and in the South.  These friends not only pray, speak, write, and influence others, but make unbelievable, unpublished sacrifices and contributions for the advancement of the race–for their brothers in bonds.

The noblest thing that the Negro can do is to so live and labor that these benefactors will not have given in vain.  The Negro must make his heart warm with gratitude, his lips sweet with thanks and his heart and mind resolute with purpose to justify the sacrifices and stand on his feet and go forward “God is no respector of persons.  In every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is” sure to win out.  Get to work!  That’s the answer to everything that hurts us.  We talk too much about nothing instead of redeeming the time by working.

Here’s the bottom line:  We must do better.  We must come together and hold ourselves, our family members, and our elected leaders ACCOUNTABLE and start NOW!

About The Author

Gary is the Founder and Publisher of Black Men In, an online news and magazine, Black Boating and and several other online sites.  Gary is also the author of the book 25 Things That Really Matter In Life,”:  A Quick and Comprehensive Guide To Making Your Life Better—Today! and The Black Father Perspective: What We Want America To Know, and In Search of Fatherhood – Transcending Boundaries: International Conversations on Fatherhood.“ 

In 2019, Gary developed a line of spices under the name of MasterChef Gary’s Premium Organic Seasoning.” 

In 2021, Gary launched a motivational website and talk show called Calculations. 

In 2022, Gary became a strategist for a group of Black farmers (Justice For Black Farmers) and launched a website and podcast in support of Black farmers.  He also launched another website and podcast to debate current news and information from a multi-generational perspective featuring 3 hosts.  That show and website is called “The Thought Brothers.”

In 2023, Gary shifted his focus from training and consulting to public relations and social media and launched Gary Johnson Media, LLC.  

In 2024, Gary launched “Gary’s Weight Loss Journey,” a motivational website detailing his years long struggle with weight to help others get and stay motivated to lose weight.  For information about Gary Johnson and his passions and businesses, visit his official website at Gary Johnson Media.

Black Men In
Since our launch in 2001, Black Men In has evolved from a news site focusing on black men to a well-rounded social, current events and political website featuring content that people want to share and talk about.  We have thought-provoking content that aims to educate, entertain and inspire our site visitors to become good citizens and role models in their community.  Please do not use this site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law. You alone are responsible for the material you post.

My Weight Loss Journey by Gary A. Johnson

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