The definition of insanity has continued to ring true through the test of time. Whether we are discussing foreign affairs, local politics or economic development, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is simply nonsensical. Similarly, when James Baldwin stated, “To be black and to be conscious is to be in a constant state of rage,” he was speaking a truth that would ring true for generations.
If we agree that these two statements are true — one about insanity and one about rage — then as a community, we would have to be outrageously insane to exit this pandemic and normalize a social, political and economic condition that is remnant of the one we experienced before it began. Instead, we should be enraged with confidence, courage and conviction to evolve our frame of mind so we might stop expecting things from folks who never met our expectations.
In order for our community, the beautiful Black community that has built the “world’s largest small city” as Mayor Hogsett calls Indianapolis, to produce this shift in mindset, we must first ask ourselves why we have expectations of folks who never met our expectations in the first place. I’d propose that these impractical, impromptu and inopportune expectations of other people, places and things are a product of our lack of desire to be patient with ourselves and each other.
We will wait for packages in the mail. We will wait on orders at the drive-thru. We will even wait for people to finish talking before we cuss them out because they came at us cross-eyed and sideways. Yet, in waiting for all those other people, places and things, we won’t wait for ourselves. We must value our personal, and communal, process toward progress enough to love ourselves and develop a desire to be patient!
After we ask ourselves why we have such expectations, know that the journey of creating new expectations for yourself, and our community, can start right here and right now! We must persist through the resistance that comes with creating new expectations for a new normal because resistance is simply a requirement of resistance. The presence of resistance doesn’t necessarily mean you are operating the wrong; sometimes, it is the presence of persistence that indicates your reward is on the way.
In addition to understanding the immediacy in the opportunity to adjust our expectations as we create this new normal post-COVID19, know that we can reshape the expectations that have been embedded into our personal and communal mindsets for too long. The first thing we can do is assess the purpose of current expectations and ask what we gain from normalizing expectations that minimize the power, potential and purpose in our community?
It should be common knowledge that expressing and exclaiming our blackness, especially in predominantly white spaces, comes at a cost. From cyberbullying on social media to state-sponsored assassinations, our blackness is a weapon in the eyes of the law, and the greater lengths we go to express our blackness, the more likely we will be perceived as a threat to the masses that want to mute our muse.
This being said, knowing who we should create expectations for moving forward is so important! I propose that when crafting the expectations that inform our new normal post-COVID19, we only create expectations for ourselves and each other. The energy we expend expecting things from people, places and things that have never met our expectations has to end! No more expectations for problematic politicians, messed up media or corrupt corporations. We should expect the best from ourselves and our own community. That’s it! Let’s begin adjusting our expectations now so we can better believe in our people post-COVID19.
As we craft the new normal, we must invest in our own and stop expecting things from people, places and things that have never met our expectations. Yes, it is true: the CARES Act does not care about us! But, might I ask, why did we even think it would in the first place? From the CARES Act of the 21st century to the Fugitive Slaves Act of 1850, the federal government has never cared about us!
In the song “No Role Modelz” hip-hop icon J. Cole says, “Fool me one time shame on you. Fool me twice, can't put the blame on you. Fool me three times, [forget] the peace signs. Load the chopper. Let it rain on you.” It’s been three times three times three more than three could ever be, and we are still expecting things. Y’all, that's just foolish. Our people’s process toward progress post-COVID19 has to be grounded in equitable expectations and the right repercussions for those who refuse to come correct.
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