I doubt this will generate a lot of discussion, but this article does a good job of using the writer’s family history to illustrate the societal problem of systemic racism. It’s a good primer to the overall issue, and I also have a personal connection to the story.
The author’s father, NBA Hall of Fame guard Maurice Cheeks, played college basketball in my hometown, and every summer he worked in a jr. high school gym for the parks and rec dept. His “job” was to practice. My high school buddies and I played ball with him every day after he was drafted by the 76ers. Nicest man ever, even though he killed my own NBA dreams on that court. haha. Google Mo Cheeks national anthem sometime. That’s who he is.
My grandfather’s story is one of success (this year his business turns 50) that also illustrates why black success is used to claim that the playing field in America is more level than it actually is. My grandfather made it, but does his success against all odds mean that it’s okay when everyone else faces those same odds and fails? A black family’s success story is reassuring proof that the system works. If my family could successfully climb upward, the argument goes, then the ones who can’t aren’t trying hard enough. They don’t have enough grit.
My family, despite their struggles, gave me the means to choose differently. Even so, my initial choices highlight the complicated nature of black success: It’s knowing that as you rise, you have a responsibility to make sure your family and community rise with you. For better or worse, American wealth is a family affair.