by dominique DiPrima
Almost every day on my radio show on 102.3 KJLH-FM Los Angeles we deal with the tension between looking at the problems facing Black America and focusing on the solutions. We vacillate between focusing on discrimination and the many tricky forms it takes, or maintaining an unwavering focus on what we want and where we are going. I have been accused of wearing “rose-colored glasses” or failing to recognize the scope of our challenges because, on most days I choose to emphasize what we are doing right, what we are accomplishing and where we wish to go. And while I don’t want to be ahistorical, I do embrace my “rose-colored glasses.” And if you like, I have a pair for you!
This may sound like a bunch of pollyanna crap but there is a logic and a strategy to it. First of all, if you look at the 24-hour news cycle, or even the long, long arc of history, there are endless facts we could focus on. In a single day there are literally hundreds of thousands of news stories. Now multiply that by a century and you will realize that you have to consciously choose what to focus on or your head will explode. The same is true of history. We could choose, for example, to focus on the one million or more of our ancestors who perished during the middle passage forming a highway of bones on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean (surely they must not be forgotten!) or we could meditate every day on the first known rebellion of enslaved Africans in America. It was at the Pedee River in South Carolina in 1526. This revolt, at the very first U.S. settlement resulted in the Africans joining up and remaining with the Indians, and the slave holders eventually fleeing to Haiti. With the help of my rose-colored glasses, I choose to honor my ancestors who died during the genocide of our enslavement, and maintain my focus on the many who fought back, often successfully. I can do this while keeping the lions share of my attention looking forward to where we are going: our complete financial, spiritual, and mental emancipation, followed by incredible advancement.
I work every day to do this on a personal level, with events in my own life, as well as in my view of both news and historical events. Of course we have to know the context of where we are and why we are here. Of course we need to be aware of the obstacles in our path. The question is what do we choose to focus on with the majority of our time and energy. It may sound trite, but it is absolutely true that you cannot drive forward if you are always looking back. There are dozens of studies showing how stress is destroying our physical and mental health. Countless new age authors will tell you that what you focus on the most is what will manifest. It is the main idea in the popular Law of Attraction. But I’m not even asking you to believe any of that. just consider this. What we know for sure is we have this life, this moment. Everything else is just a promise or a theory. Just notice how you feel in this moment, in this life when you focus on what you want instead of your “problems.” Don’t you feel more energized? More hopeful? More ready for action? I do! And that’s why when folks ask me “What’s I wrong?” I usually respond with “What’s right?” And I love how the hip hop heads will greet each other with “What’s good?” When was the last time you took inventory of all the things that were positive or moving in the right direction in your day or your life?
On a physical level the rose colored glasses could literally save your life. As for your activism or personal challenges, they may give you the energy to overcome the discrimination or other obstacles in your path. And that’s why I’ll be keeping my salmon shades and I hope you’ll join me looking pretty in pink (or manly in mauve!) And next time someone asks you “What’s wrong?”…Simply answer “What’s right!”