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The Right Thing

June 24, 1990

In "Doing the Right Thing," a YAF activist in San Diego said: "I wasn't there during black slavery--why should I pay for it?" My first response, I must admit, was anger, and I went to my computer in a burst of indignation to dash off a reply to this individual's self-centered ignorance.

But the more I looked at that quote, the more I came to realize that in a certain warped way, I agree with it. I am a black man. Statistically speaking, that means that in terms of virtually every indicator of life-quality, I am heir to more than my fair share of misery. It means that, as far as the police are concerned, I was born a suspect. It means that I am slandered and libeled with numbing regularity by mass media, which reduce me to bite-sized, easily digestible bits of stereotype rather than dealing with me as a whole human being. And finally, it means a legacy of frustration whose depth defies words.

So, yes, I agree with that nameless YAFfer. I wasn't there during black slavery, either, and I shouldn't have to pay for it. But I do. Every day, I do.

LEONARD PITTS JR.

Baldwin Park

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