Thousands of birds falling from the sky.
Rates of homelessness rising everyday.
Gross acts of domestic terrorism.
Millions of people unemployed, uneducated and unheard.
Where is the outrage? What is happening to this world?
Oh the Audacity of Apathy.
This week marked the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. People across the globe remarked on the significance of these two men and the overall fight for freedom. While they both lived in two different parts of the world under different conditions; the systems of oppression were very similar. The fact that an individual could be killed because of an ability to mobilize, ignite and agitate people into action was dangerous. These two men put their lives on the line for a freedom neither would live to see. They had the audacity to dream, to fight and to sacrifice; where can we find that audacity today?
Malcolm X, a leader I continue to learn more about, once said that Patrice Lumumba was “the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people [the colonialists] so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him.” Malcolm X was a self-educated man, he didn’t attend college. He knew more then than I know now, I want to know what Malcolm knew. I now have the privilege and opportunity to know even more. Our access to information my generation holds is unparalleled. We have a responsibility to harness it and USE it to transform our communities. In Washington, DC alone I can be in a room with 100 Black people and every single one of them will likely have one, two or three degrees. Unfortunately, possessing degrees does not equate to possessing intellectual fortitude and the empathy to build power in our communities across the country. We need more self-education and ownership over our formal educations. Education facilitated by those not invested in our communities, not from our communities nor based on the narratives of our communities; breeds apathy.
Inaction is consent.
We simply can not be comfortable with the status quo. Thinking about reality is tough and apathy is numbing. The audaciousness of apathy allows Black communities to boast the highest incarceration rates, the lowest graduation rates and continue a cycle where some “make it” while most never will. It’s not enough for me to be able to succeed if my cousin can’t even read. How dare I? It’s not enough for me to gain access to resources and knowledge if I never open the door wider for the next young Black person. How dare I? I do not face the danger of being lynched for picking up a book, how dare I not pursue self- education? How dare I not do so with great fervor and an unrelenting spirit?
What is our responsibility? What is our duty?
I’ve internalized the idea of consent through action and inaction. Whether you give consent through the ballot or by staying home, you’ve made a choice. Your choice impacts what the results of the election are regardless of whether you entered the booth or not. Whether you give consent to the violence running rampant in your community or not, you’ve made a choice. Your choice impacts the safety and mental health of your community regardless of whether you choose to speak out against violence or not. Whether you give consent because of fear or profit, you’ve made a choice.
Choosing to be apathetic in the face of so much blatant disrespect for life is perhaps one of the most audacious acts I see everyday. Our leaders display apathy each time they speak-out late or simply decide not to speak at all. Our people lack a collective consciousness of our struggle. Our people lack self-love. Our world lacks love.
The Audacity of Apathy in the face of so much is deadly. We cannot afford the luxury of apathy regardless of individual wealth or success. We will rise together or we will fall together. Only we have that choice to make.