I’ve got your back

October 6, 2011
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I used to catch the bus to Malcolm X College on the near West Side from my Austin neighborhood.

John W. Fountain III

I traveled at night east on Jackson Boulevard where Rockwell Gardens once stood. Much like the other housing projects, “The Rockwell’s” were known for different gangs vying for more territory in order to dominate the drug trade in the area, which often resulted in numerous homicides of the intended targets and innocent bystanders.

Upon getting to school, there were the Henry Horner Homes — with the same aforementioned reputation — towering to the soundtrack of the El.

At times the bus would break down in between these terrifying scenes.

I was never that worried; truth is I knew that there were some people at home on the block that had my back.

These same people created a safe passage for me to fluently travel with relative ease between two different worlds. I could use hanging prepositional phrases and drop the g’s from words, while at school working to master the king’s English.

They took stake in my destiny with the firm belief that I would one day reach back.

And I will, but the journey is not over nor the destination reached.

I need you to keep believing in me amid the controversy, in light of unpopular decisions, in lieu of what you deem as silence in the midst of heated conversations. I did not get here alone, and I can not forget the sacrifices that you have made on my behalf.

Now, I’m not the president of the United States of America, but this was the message I got after watching the speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual award dinner on Youtube.com.

He did drop g’s, felt a little more comfortable with the audience he was addressing and received cheers for urging black people to stop complaining.

This last week I have been embattled with my personal politics and my concern for social justice. I was discouraged that President Obama failed to give remarks on what grew to be a mainstream issue in the Troy Davis case, yet pleaded for the stay of execution of another inmate.

Another issue that came up was the Congressional Black Caucus, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters along with Cornel West and Tavis Smiley seemingly taking shots at the current administration with little mention of the eight years and two wars that aided in creating this predicament. They speak as if blacks weren’t disproportionately uneducated, convicted, jailed or unemployed before now.

We will still have these same concerns two presidents from now.

I don’t pretend to agree with every foreign or domestic policy set forth by the Obama Administration. I also believe that he should be scrutinized or corrected “out of love,” as Dr. West has said before. Conversations of accountability to every race should take place.

But give me the name of another contemporary black man that has reached the pinnacle of what the civil rights movement has stood for.

All I’m saying is that the glue that has always kept the black community afloat despite different experiences or in the course of the “disintegration of the black experience”— a term I read in a book by Eugene Robinson — is that we won’t leave you hangin’!

It is the same sense of camaraderie I feel with a black woman from New Jersey who recently moved here just to study for her master’s at Loyola University Chicago, leaving everything back East.

Traveling to and from Malcolm X College was made possible by those who had my back. They may ask about where my education will take me. They make jokes about me marrying a white woman; they criticize my vernacular and make me question what I am fighting for.

But when it’s all said and done, whenever I need anything, they have my back. And I have theirs!


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