One event I like to attend on a weekly basis is Sankofa. Sankofa is basically a Black Caucus (an organization at Penn State University) weekly event where students are encouraged to have discussions on topics facing our community. Yes, people do criticize Sankofa for various reasons; they usually say it is informal, its the same topics etc. People are entitled to their opinion and I am entitled to mine. In my opinion, Sankofa is what it is suppose to be: an informal discussion event, where by individuals can speak their mind. Such events are hard to control and believe it or not such events, if looked with a keen eye, can increase you in wisdom, knowledge and understanding of a lot of things going on.
This past Wednesday, we were talking about Black Supremacy. As usual, the topic moved to a whole different direction. Some students were blaming slavery for every bad thing going on in the black community. Others were talking about how Africans Americans have less of a struggle than Africans. I mean it was good chaos in my opinion. Yes, the topic shifted, but I learned a lot. Every point was a valid because it was based of someone’s opinion. I can’t dispute that. Every point was tangible since I have not been in their shoes; but another great point is how do we move past all these issues facing the black community today. I am not saying moving to a “black nationalist” society, but how do we as Africans and African Americans move past these issues. This was MAIN question which came from the argument. This was the main question everyone was indirectly trying to answer. I will give you my short answer.
“Learn from a map or GPS”. I find it fascinating how we interact with a map or GPS, but we do not carry the same interactions when we deal with things pertaining to the real world. Anytime we are going from one place to another, what do we do? We look a map, find out where are currently are, and where we are going. With a GPS, we simply type in where we are going since the GPS with its satellite technology is already aware of where we are. In life, the only way to move forward is to look forward. The GPS or map does not care where you are coming from. All what you need to know is where you are going and with the map, where you are. Using the map analogy, if you want to be successful, you need to look at your current situation (present), examine your goal (future) and persevere, work hard, work smart, and take risks (route to your destination – success). When you focus too much on the past, it will delay the process, it will distract you and it will eventually discourage you. Your past will always tell you this: you were once broke, so you can never be financially successful, you were once dumb, so you can never be smart; you were once slow, so you can never be fast; you were once sad, so you can never be happy. On the other hand, the future is telling you, “come on you can do it! You can be all you want to be! You can be happy, successful and intelligent. All you got to do is forget the past and focus on me”.
The reason why a lot of us fail is because we focus more on where we are from and we focus less on where we are going. Where you are from is in the rear view mirror. Stop only if it is a cop behind you (you are probably doing something wrong), but keep it moving if it is another driver. Do not be defined about your past, but rather, you should define your future. The only change we can make is what is ahead of us and what we can control. The question is not whether slavery set us back or not. Yes, slavery did set us back as black people in America. It is the truth, and I do not deny it. The question is, are we going to waste our lives stressing over what we can’t control or are we going to work hard and overcome every obstacle set before us? We should always remember the map!