It seems that with each generation, there’s always some skepticism about the fate of the future. And yet, the real question is: from just where does the idea that we should look down on the future come from, exactly?
In my own life, I’ve found that when looking to great minds about their thoughts on the future, there are many reasons to look up.
From Mumia Abu-Jamal:
“The Lost Generation?
Recent published reports have lamented the fact that African-American youth are remarkably resistant and virtually unresponsive to traditional, big-name public relations and big-time sports figures when they use the major media to attempt to communicate with younger blacks.
The study found deep and profound alienation among youth, and a fundamental streak of fatalism about the promise of tomorrow– a sense that ‘tomorrow may not come, so let’s live today.’
The youth, while they view large blocks of TV, perceive it from the position of outsiders, knowing that the dramas, comedies, and news programs are not designed for their consumption. Only the urbo-tech musical form known as rap touches them, for it is born of urban youth consciousness and speaks to them, in their idiom, about lives on the margins. It is this profound disassociation that forced some nouveau middle-class blacks to lament the youth as ‘the lost generation.’
But are they really ‘lost’, and, if so, to whom?
The Martinican black revolutionary Frantz Fanon once opined that every generation must find its destiny and fulfill it or betray it.
In my father’s generation, southern-born of the late 1890s, their destiny was to move their families north, to lands with the promise of a better life away from our hateful homelands in Dixie. The dreams of that generation , sparked by visions of new homes, better education, new cars, and prosperity, were, in relative terms, realized by some, but northbound African-Americans were never able to outrun the stigma of racism.
By the time the 1950s and 1960s generation came of age, during the Nixon-Reagan-Bush eras, race once again defined the limits of black aspirations, and with the shifting of manufacturing jobs back down south and abroad, so went dreams of relative prosperity. The children of this generation — born into sobering poverty amid shimmering opulence, their minds weaned on Falcon Crestian TV excess while locked in want, watching while sinister politicians spit on their very existence — are the hip-hop/rap generation.
Locked out of the legal means of material survival, looked down upon by predatory politicians and police, left with the least relevant educational opportunities, talked at with contempt and not talked to with love — is there any question why such youth are alienated? Why the surprise?
They look at the lives they live and see not ‘civil rights progress’ but a drumbeat of civil repression by a state at war with their dreams. Why the surprise?
This is not the lost generation. They are the children of the L.A. rebellion, the children of the MOVE bombing, the children of the Black Panthers, and the grandchildren of Malcolm; far from lost, they are probably the most aware generation since Nat Turner’s; they are not so much lost as they are mislaid, discarded by this increasingly racist system that undermines their inherent worth.
They are all potential revolutionaries, with the historic power to transform our dull realities.
If they are lost, find them.
J.T. will have more on this soon, but for now, there is some more reading to do.