The Lesson of Julian Bond


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 10.43.57 PMOnce upon a time, when someone who was not white was trying to rise to the top, they had to be better and smarter than someone who was white.  They had to be able to run rings around them, just to get a step up, onto that ladder.  It’s the same thing, today, with women, especially trying to somehow break through the impenetrable glass ceiling of professional sports, business, and industry.  Have you ever noticed that the ‘token’ jobs for black males who are good at what they do, are big city cops and taking over difficult police departments.  If you are male, black, and good at what you do, you can rise very quickly in law enforcement.  It’s rather like a boon of affirmative action.  Don’t rattle the boat, and be so good at what you do, you are far superior than anyone else.  Just don’t expect to go much farther than that.  If my observation sounds cruel and bitter, it is.  Once a black male reaches a certain point in life, he’d darn well be better at what he does than anyone who is white.  Incompetence is not an option.

Men like Julian Bond, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maynard Jackson, and thousands of others, had to be better at what they did.  Having grown up a few miles from Georgia, and considered Atlanta something of a ‘home’ town, they are people close to the heart.  Maynard Jackson was a power-house.  He was one of the first black mayors to rise to power in this country, and remained in office, not because of the color of his skin, but because he transformed Atlanta from a good-old-boy Southern city, into a world-class metropolious. It started with his vision of and embrace of basically plowing under much of the sleepy little suburb of Hapeville, transforming it into one of the busiest airports in the world. His vision literally transformed Atlanta into an Olympic City.  We lived 100 miles away from Atlanta, yet still considered him ‘our’ mayor.

It was an amazing legacy.  He was larger than life, literally.  Along with Ed Koch, he literally wrote the book on how to be a beloved modern mayor.   He was a gentleman.  So was Julian Bond, who was a class act.  I think that’s my real problem with this younger generation of ‘activist’.  They talk a big game about race, and how bad their lives are, yet, for the most part, we’re dealing with very well educated, young, professionals who have options.  Their grandparents did not.  Their parents had options, but not like these kids.   Sure, like sucks at times.  But, you get out of life what you put into it.

A young person, no matter what their race or gender, has the option of choosing right from wrong.  They have the option of getting an education.  No, education is not equal, but it is a tool.  You take that tool and do something with it.  You say no to drugs, getting pregnant, and being involved in things that lead to making very bad choices. We all have within us the roots of our own destruction.

Yes, bad things happen to good people, but it is still the exception to the rule.  If a kid is minding their own business, chances are they’re not going to get in trouble.  If that sounds cruel and hard, it is not.  It is life.  Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the crime.  It’s trite, but true.   Michael Brown was a very bad kid, who had just assaulted someone.  His so-called innocent cousin who was wounded the other day is also a bad kid with a criminal record.  Sandra Bland was a pothead with a record of traffic violations that would have cost me my license.   It is horrible that people die in police custody.  It should not happen, but why can’t we ask how they came to be in police custody in the first place.  If I were the arresting officer with Bland, and had read that annoying little report that pops up when a cop runs a person’s profile, I would not have been as tolerant.  She had a very bad habit of being very nasty to cops.  If you are nasty to cops, bad things happen – even to white people.

Julian Bond was a class act.  He had to be in order to succeed.  In so many ways, that has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with personality.  He had to be better than his white counterpart. In the days before social media, and instant celebrity, men and women like Bond had to do things the hard way – with good old-fashioned sweat and elbow-grease.  Nothing was given to him. He succeeded on his own.  I look at the spoiled, bratty, #BlackLivesMatter twits who have a temper tantrum, and melt-down interrupting Bernie Sanders rallies and just want to pour water on them.  Like other members of their wretchedly ignorant generation, they have no concept of what came before them.  They have no class.  They’re flash and trash.  They’re also political opportunists out to make a name for themselves and attach onto a political campaign.  I can handle that part.  But, someone needs to somehow pound a little basic human decency into them, before it’s too late.