Sunday night I went to see the highly praised theatrical presentation of The Color Purple. Seeing as the play was comprised of an all Black-American cast I was surprised to see that the majority of the audience did not reflect the cast. This caused me to wonder, is there a lack of support for/unity in the Black-American community?

I ask this question because it seems as a whole we, me included, have lost the sense of community. It’s all about “me” and “mines” no longer about the “us” and the “we”. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 report there are nearly 40 million Black Americans. Black Americans make up12.3 percent of the U.S. population down from 14.8 percent of the population in 2000. Black Americans became the nation’s second-largest minority group in the first decade of the 21st century. This means that we have a pretty significant presence in the U.S.

Now I would think that with numbers like these there would be a plethora of black owned businesses in black communities; however, I see the exact opposite. At one point in time Blacks had no choice but to support each other and it was during these times that “we” as whole began to thrive. Examples of this can be seen in the pre-integration era. The Harlem Renaissance was the birthing of wide spread Black intellectuals & entrepreneurs; in Black Wall Street the dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community; historically Black colleges provided educations equal to that of ivy league institutions. I’m not promoting segregation but it does seem that when “we” meaning Blacks gained the option of choice we forsake ourselves.

Here it is that Tyler Perry has managed to gain Hollywood’s attention and support for Black films and television and “we” complain that he’s negatively portraying us. I’m happy that we’re at least being portrayed. There was a time when the only roles available to Blacks were that of a slave, whore, or criminal and now we have roles showing us owning businesses, teaching dance, running philanthropic programs. All of these things were present in For Colored Girls
yet the response that came from us is “I don’t think he should’ve portrayed us like that.” Did you realize that this movie came from a Broadway play? Did you realize that the cast was comprised of AMAZING talent that we rarely see in "Hollywood" films? Stop focusing on the negative and appreciate the positive!

Gone are the days of marches, boycotts and demonstrations; gone are the leaders who are willing to take a stand for the greater good and not just individual agendas, gone are the days of community and self worth…NO! These things are not gone they are simply lying dormant in each and every one of us. Don’t wait for the government/someone else to change your community; YOU change it. Parents you want better education for your children? Get involved! You want better housing? Well come together and fix one home at a time. You want better jobs? Well create them! Change will not come if we don’t first change ourselves. In order to succeed you must first be willing to start. We have to be the change that we want to see. Support the businesses, people, and efforts that support you and your community! We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go!