This I Believe

Yanick - Missouri City, Texas
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Embracing the Skin I’m in

I believe that I have the power to affect positive change within the black race as a result of my actions. As a black man, I represent not only myself when I am out in public, but the entire African American race as well, and thus am duty bound to do everything I can to uplift the race.

I try my hardest when out in public to be the respectful, refined, and proper. That is who I am, and the more I portray that image of myself to the world the greater service I do in the name of uplifting the race.

I experience this every day when I hang around the younger black guys in my neighborhood. I was doing my usual workout routine; six sets of short sprints following a long run. They watched in silence for a while. I could understand their perplexity. It is not often you see a teenager working out on his own. As they looked on and my breathing became more ragged, I realized an opportunity to uplift the race was presenting itself. Rather than stopping immediately to greet them, I forged ahead with workout. I hoped to give the impression that I did not tolerate distractions in when there was work to be done. I asked them their names; Jay was the larger of the two.

“ You do all this for tennis? I ain’t know it took so much work.”

“Yeah, gotta stay in shape, you know.”

They looked at me strange, like I was from another planet.

Jay said, “ Lemme play with your tennis racquet real quick.” He grabbed for my racquet. I moved it out of his grasp.

“ Ay, man, you ask first. Don’t just grab.”

“ Aright. May I please play with tennis racquet?

I acquiesced, telling him sternly to always ask respectfully anything, because you are more likely to get it.

“Ok, Grandpa, I’ll remember that” he jokingly replied.

The next time he asked for something, he said please and thank you without me having to tell him.

It seems so insignificant, yet it is so important, the way black people behave in public. I know I am judged not as an individual, but as a reflection of the whole. I make it point to always be on my best behavior, because I want to cast a positive light on the tarnished image blacks have in America. I am only one person, and so there is only so many people I can affect with my choices. However, those people who are affected will hopefully spread my belief to others, who will spread the word in the same fashion as well. The consequences of the actions of one can affect the futures of countless people. One day, blacks all around the world will hear my cry. They will stand up for themselves and cast off the chains of self oppression. This I believe.