Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Statue for Smokin' Joe

Former heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Frazier, is dead. And a clamor has risen in the African-American community for a statue in his honor.

"Hey, they put up one for Rocky. Why not for Joe?"

Maybe because they don't want to (and you can't make them.)

True, Rocky is a fictionalized Philadelphia fighter, portrayed wonderfully by Sylvester Stallone in the movies. Joe, on the other hand, was a real Philadelphia fighter - one of the greats of all time. Yet, the city of Philadelphia chose to honor the fake fighter because Hollywood made him look so good.

Ye members of Philly's African-American community, try this: Erect a statue of Joe, yourself. You can do it. And it doesn't have to be a wholly black effort. People across the breadth of Pennsylvania, and the breadth of the nation, loved Joe Frazier. Start the ball rolling, and watch how whites, Asians, Hispanics, and a kaleidoscope of communities kick in. But this time, the African-American community should kick in first.

Often, blacks feel that if they do it - if it is not done by whites - then it will not be as good; it will not be official. Nonsense. Quality of effort is what makes it good, and official. Do it.

Historically, blacks have felt powerless to effect change, and they became accustomed to this powerlessness. They began to look forward to it. Powerlessness seemed to empower them to do whatever they wanted, (which, in many instances, was nothing.) Go to a "brother" to kick in, and he might respond: "Ask the white man. He got all of the money. He just left me with enough to have fun."

Fun. It is over-rated, and the bane of the African-American community. In fact, never in the history of America has so many adults been so consumed with having fun. Is it any wonder the children have lost respect for their elders? Their elders are behaving too much like them.

It is time the African-American too full responsibility for his community. Time to kick in, and keep kicking in. How else will great communities like Detroit survive? How else will we break the bonds of dependence and powerlessness? What other way to usher in a new era, and a new ethic of effort of empowerment?

A statue for Smokin' Joe could be a beginning - a glimpse at the new African-American resolve.

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