Insight News

Thursday
Apr 17th

It ain’t the fight; it’s the struggle

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Many things puzzled me about the Sept. 10 primary election, but I am especially puzzled by the fact that Rep. Gregory Gray, by far one of the most qualified candidates for state auditor, lost by almost 50,000 votes!
Many things puzzled me about the Sept. 10 primary election, but I am especially puzzled by the fact that Rep. Gregory Gray, by far one of the most qualified candidates for state auditor, lost by almost 50,000 votes!

The results were startling, even taking into consideration the fact that voter turnout for primary races is typically low. How could Gray, current representative for District 58B for the state of Minnesota, and a highly visible and active member of his community, get so few votes? As I thought about who is supported and who is not supported by party affiliates or by grass roots efforts in the community, the message that became apparent to me, and that I hope resounds with others, is that it’s not about the fight. It’s about the struggle. I, as an African American, better understand the difference.

When you don’t like me because of the clothes I wear or the car I drive, that’s about the fight; the fight between the imagined haves and the have nots, the bourgeois and the “ghetto”, the light-skinned and the dark-skinned, and on and on. When you don’t respect me because of my views on politics, or religion, that too is about the fight; the fight to be valued as a Muslim among Baptists, or a Republican among Democrats. These fights are sparked by a conditioned reasoning about where our station in life should be and the limitations that we place on ourselves. When you don’t like me because I hang with Mike and you hang with Marcus, that is about the fight!

However, when a policeman busts me upside the head for nothing other than being Black, that’s about the struggle. When Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee innocently comments on the tragedy of two people who lost their lives in violence and puts the comma in the wrong place; and is then called on to resign, and then is verbally bashed and in effect, dehumanized, that is about the struggle. When Gray enters an election, is clearly recognized as the most qualified candidate, and still loses by a landslide, that too, is about the struggle.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. DeBois, Toussaint L’Overture and Denmark Vessey understood that they would have their private fights. But they also understood that what was far more important was the collective struggle. Many of us will disagree and have our fights, but even in these contemporary times we cannot allow our in-fighting to interfere with our commitment to the struggle. Sadly, we spend too much time fighting our private battles, our individual wars and not enough time fending for the struggle.

For too long, we have focused on the fight. We have focused on the fight so much so that the gains of the 60s and 70s are eroding everyday. I better understand that it is not about our individual fights, but it’s about our collective struggle. I better understand that when we raise the water to a level that it drowns out hatred, bigotry, discrimination and prejudice, then Black folks in all sorts of boats are uplifted by the rising tide.

Our challenge is to take up the struggle of those like Gregory Gray who are undaunted by closed doors. We can do that by resisting the temptation to engage the battle, and focus our collective energy on winning the struggle!
 

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