Richard Wright, whose autobiography, “Black Boy,” tells of his unhappy childhood in the South. (AP Photo, file)

Divide between haves, have-nots is by indivine creation

SHARE Divide between haves, have-nots is by indivine creation
SHARE Divide between haves, have-nots is by indivine creation

Follow @csteditorials“They” will let us shoot each other down in the street, poison our neighborhoods with illicit drugs. Become our own worst enemy.

But start up a free breakfast program to feed hungry ghetto children so they can concentrate in school and learn. Or seek fervently, nonviolently, to turn an unjust and unequal system on its head. And they will surely plot to assassinate you.


Follow @csteditorialsAttempt to build “community” and not play the political game. Stand principled and independent of those who desire to oppress us, to keep us locked in the socioeconomic maze of poverty and pity. And you must surely learn to stand alone. For they won’t help you.

“Make me wanna holler. The way they do my life…” Marvin Gaye sang. After all these years, his words still speak to me.

“They” — the powers that be. Those in authority. Those threatened by the sharing of power and resources requisite for the establishment of equality. They.

“They” watch as we fill the public school system now under our own watch with incompetents and swindlers in black skin who steal money meant for the betterment and future of poor black and brown children. Hands in the cookie jar because they have “casinos to visit.”

But teach our children the three Rs and self-determination. And they will seek to maintain the gulf of racial discrimination that lies between us and the American dream. A divide made more impassable for those miseducated in an incorrigible public school system that remains separate and unequal.

“Hang ups, let downs. Bad breaks, set backs…” Gaye’s words ring hauntingly.

After all these years, I marvel at how high-tech weaponry — and cocaine, from a world thousands of miles away — mystically, magically, ends up on American ghetto streets.

I observe the ceaseless rain of murder and gunfire that fall upon us like an urban monsoon.

And I wonder why it only rains on Pain Street but seldom on Main Street.

Truth is: I no longer wonder.

For I stand with a foot in each world — one, the American Mainstream, the other, the American Drained Stream. I stand fully cognizant that this amorphous but undeniable divide between the haves and have-nots is by indivine creation.

I stand, having earned a Ph.D. in Black Life in America — where the journey from slave ship to slavery, from the plantation to plantation politics and to a semblance of freedom that still rings dull in our ears. I stand in the stabbing realization that for the collective of blacks in America, freedom is still an illusive dream.

I stand as a shadow — the evolution of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” For I am visible but still not fully regarded in the 21st century America as finally having become an American man.

I stand as Richard Wright’s “Black Boy,” having inhaled the warmth and hope of the American ideals of liberty, justice and democracy. But I have been choked by the bitter cold realities of their illusion and hypocrisy.

I have witnessed purveyors of the dream use sleight of hand. Weighed the words of conspiracy theorists, of sociological investigators and assorted poverty pimps sent to study the “black condition.” And after all this time, I find Marvin Gaye’s words swirling rhythmically inside my head.

They gnaw at me, vex my soul, as I observe the condition of our people who have become America’s forgotten. Left to languish on hyper-segregated isles of poverty. Purposely denied a pathway to the dream. Socially triaged. Written off.

It makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.

Except I still believe our best hope has never been “they” but “us.”


Send letters to

Tweets by @csteditorials

The Latest
Hendriks not buying Donaldson’s “inside joke” explanation for calling teammate Tim Anderson “Jackie”
Jordan Jackson, 22, faces three counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer, one count of possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, Chicago police said.
Mr. Wiley started as a copy clerk in 1952, working from midnight to 8 a.m., and attending classes at Northwestern University during the day.
A man was wounded by a security guard during a shootout at Millennium Park.
Ms. Osborne earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University. She was a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.