The title Greatest Generation is typically reserved for those that came of age around WWII. For Black Americans the Greatest Generation is those who came of age during the Black Civil Rights era. People such as Sadie Roberts-Joseph who recently lost her life to a senseless murder in Baton Rouge, LA changed the world and they don’t get enough respect for their accomplishments. This post is not a discussion of Ms. Roberts-Joseph’s murder.
Black Americans of the Civil Rights era made the blueprint for protests and activism. The LGBT movement, feminists and supporters of undocumented immigrants use the Black Civil Rights movement as a tool in which to gain sympathy for their struggles as a basis of comparison. The Black American Civil rights movement has been a source of global inspiration.
These people were real activists that sought change and got it. They risked their freedom, bodily harm and death while fighting for their rights against the most powerful country in the world. I have a great deal of respect for some Black Lives Matter organizers and protesters. But overall, the younger generation limits activism to hash tags and they accomplish very little. At times I find social media activism to be counter productive.
I enjoy social media but it is what it is and it’s not what it’s not. It’s not meaningful activism because it only makes a difference if it’s something popular. Most social media advocacy is a matter of jumping on the right on line bandwagon.
That’s why the movement to fight sexual harassment caught on but the one to fight sexual harassment in the fast food industry didn’t. There’s no glamour to the fast food industry so not many people are willing to advocate for them. That’s why there was an on line campaign to bring R. Kelly to justice but there isn’t a mainstream campaign to protect Black children from sexual abuse within the Black community. That’s why police brutality is not protested until there is a shocking video. If there isn’t a celebrity or shock value involved social media activism doesn’t seem to catch on very well.
Sadie Roberts-Joseph was not an arm chair activist. She created a legacy for her community. Ms. Roberts-Joseph founded an African American museum in Baton Rouge. She worked with law enforcement in an effort to combat gang violence and drug abuse. She also organized a Juneteenth celebration and mentored young people. Ms. Roberts-Joseph was a real treasure to her community.
Most young, so called activists do not have this same kind of spirit. They just want to throw their identity in another person’s face to be validated. There are a lot of issues facing this generation that don’t seem to get addressed. I feel like most young people are more interested in the trials and tribulations of celebrities than they are issues that affect the middle, working class and the poor.
There are a lot of people that think of themselves as “pro Black” or activists but they complain on social media all day about trivial things such as swirling (inter racial dating), fake hair and twerking. I think that all of those subjects are worth talking about but Black social media outlets beat these conversations like they are dead horses. On line activists rarely discuss the other dozens upon dozens of matters that affect Black Americans.
It is rare to run across intelligent conversations on social media about nutrition, education, health care, finance, parenting, inner city violence, domestic violence or the high infant mortality rate in our community. Most of the conversations focus on a bunch of bickering about other people’s personal choices. They want to try and change another person’s ideology instead of getting up from behind their lap tops and mobilizing something that will positively affect lives where they live.
And all of that is actually fine with me. Perhaps people are mostly satisfied with their lives and simply enjoy complaining on the internet. Heck, I complain on social media too. But here’s the kick in the pants. A lot of the armchair activists are very critical of The Greatest Generation. They are critical of their parenting style. They are critical of their religious beliefs. And they are even critical of the activism from which they have directly benefited.
These Monday morning activists question whether integration was a good idea. They consider The Greatest Generation to be soft because they took a non violent approach to protesting. But the younger generation doesn’t stand for much at all other than inclusion and diversity. Neither issue is a priority to me as a Black American. Some don’t seem to notice that all this inclusion and diversity is pushing them out of influential positions and opportunities. But go off!
Youngsters don’t put themselves on the line. They don’t risk anything. Whether you agree with The Greatest Generation or not their accomplishments and spirit deserves respect. A lot of Black people that are the beneficiaries of the Civil Rights movement don’t offer that. It’s a shame and it’s very sad. But once again Black people turn their backs on their own accomplishments, history and culture. It seems to be so much more natural for Black Americans to tear themselves down than build themselves up for some reason.
I am a part of Generation X which is a bridge between the Greatest Generation and the people that I’m complaining about. You may ask what Generation X stood for or accomplished. Honestly, not that much. We’re kind of vapid at times. But at least we respect our elders.
Rest in peace to Miss Sadie. Her end was tragic but the story of her life is inspiring. Women like Ms. Roberts-Joseph have always been the cornerstone of Black families and communities and they are deserving of praise. She makes me proud.