Last night, I learned about the Theory of Incapability, shared by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., who is a renowned diversity practitioner and founder of the White Privilege Conference. During his presentation, he described a friendship between a lion and a lamb. The two understandably have a difficult relationship because of their respective positions in nature’s system. The lion is the king of the jungle, whereas the lamb is a meek creature. One exemplifies dominance, while the other manifests
inferiority…well not dominance. Additionally, in the system, the lion is supposed to eat and devour the lamb. Thus, according to the system, the lion is incapable of being friends with the lamb. Their friendship though is not impossible. For their friendship to flourish, the lion must work everyday, take action everyday, to fight against the system. The day that he stops working, he will undoubtedly succumb to the system and eat his friend, the lamb. Similarly, the lamb must work everyday, take action everyday, to fight against the inherit mistrust and fear of his friend, the lion. The day that he stops working, he will undoubtedly succumb to the system and avoid the lion at all cost.
I have a black male friend who is a young, talented educator. He has been promoted numerous times and now facilitates a program to help disadvantaged youth matriculate to college. Additionally, he was recently accepted into a prestigious and highly selective fellowship to further stimulate his professional development. On top of that, he is one of the most caring and trustworthy people I know. I am honored to call him my friend.
On these cold, dreary American streets, he is seen by many as a nigger. Nothing more.
I have a black female friend who is a doctor. She worked relentlessly in college, excelled on her entrance exams, and attended one of the best medical schools in the countries. Now she works at one of the best hospitals in the country. She is always willing to help, ready at anytime to assist a friend or patient in need.
Yet in those privileged hallways, she is seen by many as a nigger. Nothing more.
I can continue to share stories about my friends for hours, in part because I have amazing friends who are creating Black History with their presence and their added value in various companies and professions. However the unbending system of America, highlighted by various -isms, paints them only as niggers. Our country still, in 2012, has a difficult time looking at our young black boys and girls and seeing their enormous potential, their uncorrupted dreams, and their innocence. Sadly, many look at our children and expect them to grow up and become niggers. At the same time, there are many black men and women who are doing amazing things in different ways, and they too are simply recognized as niggers. Unfortunately, there are many in this country that think as if it is 1912, not 2012.
If we expand this system to include gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and others, we all experience some form of unearned privilege because of our birth. No reason to feel guilty about your privilege. Get over yourself and your privilege. The question becomes what are you going to do with that privilege? Will you be the lion, the dominant, privileged animal, that succumbs to the pervasive society? Or will you be the lion that works tirelessly to have a meaningful relationship with the lamb?
Your choice! And know that the work requires a daily commitment.
Happy Black History Month 2012!