Don’t Settle (The Brother’s Keeper #53)

Even Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men
Letter One: Don’t Settle


Dear Y.B.M.,

When I was a young man, there was one thing I wanted almost more than anything else. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me. I wanted to do something that mattered with my life. Although I was having fun partying and living life as I pleased, the thought that came to my mind quite often was: “There’s got to be more to life than this.” More than working a nine-to-five job. More than getting a paycheck. More than living the same, mundane lifestyle that I saw so many other people living.

I looked at the Civil Rights movement, seeing it as a period of history where people did something that was bigger than themselves. I considered becoming an attorney who stood up for the rights of black people in society.

There is a reason why young people have been at the forefront of major political and social movements throughout history. God has put in every one a desire to live a life that counts, to live a life that matters, to do something that matters. The problem comes when many people, as they grow older, decide to settle. They settle for the mortgage, the car note, the job they don’t enjoy, the steady paycheck, and keeping up with the Joneses. They settle for mere existence, and not really living. The only goal they look forward to is retirement.

This kind of life is a waste of the talent that God has given us. God would not put the desire to do something that matters inside of us if He didn’t intend for us to use it as impetus for our future. God has plans for you, young black man. He wants you to live a life that counts. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”

I did not find my true purpose in life until I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior on December 19, 1979, when I was nineteen-years-old. So, I was still a young man. I thank God that Jesus saved me. It has made all of the difference in the world.

Shortly, after I gave my life to God, He called me to preach. During this time, I also found that I had an interest in words and writing — something that I had not had before. By the grace of God, I have spent the past thirty-six-plus years preaching the Gospel and writing, and I am not ready to stop. I say with the old saints, “I don’t feel no ways tired.” That is the great thing about doing something that matters with your life: it never gets old. It is always fun.

Yours for never settling,

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Rick Warren said, “Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.”

Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

John Herrick said, “Gideon saw in himself an unqualified, insignificant individual. But God saw someone He could use. God feels the same way about you. He sees potential and value that you might not see in yourself. He wants you on His team.”

Seneca said, “Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.”

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On Becoming Color-blind (Letter 23)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are winning over racism.

In this short note, I would like to say a word to you about becoming color-blind.

America is a multicultural society. America is not just made up of white and black, but of many colors, races, nationalities, and languages. If you are going to be a leader in this country, you had better shed your “black thing” mentality and become color-blind in your dealings with all people. To help you with this concept, here are some suggestions:

1. I have had the privilege of traveling all over the world, and believe it or not, all people are basically the same. No matter where they come from, or what language they speak, all people desire the same things, for the most part.

2. Learn how to speak the universal language of love. You must develop a loving heart for all people. Smile and shake hands. They are just as afraid of you as you are of them.

3. Show an interest in other people’s culture and ways. Ask them questions. Learn a few words of their language. Eat their food. (By the way, I would strongly encourage you to learn how to speak Spanish and Chinese fluently, in light of the new, global economy.)

4. When you get the opportunity, please travel as much as you can. You will get a perspective on life that you can’t get any other way. From traveling, you will understand what I mean when I say, “all people are basically the same.”

5. If you can’t travel, please take the time to read about other people and their way of life. There are many good videos available that will help you become more cosmopolitan.

I hope you will quickly learn this valuable lesson: people are really just people.

Yours for being Color-blind and at the Same Time Keeping it Real,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Henry David Thoreau said, “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

Someone said, “Prejudice is opinion without judgement.”

Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

Winning Over Racism (Letter 22)


racismDear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are treating your brothers and sisters “according to the flesh” more kindly and with dignity and respect, and I also hope that you are mature enough to allow God to give you some good white friends to help you down the road on this difficult journey.

It has been established that racism is firmly entrenched in this society. Frankly speaking, I believe racism will be here with us until the end. Here is how you can win over racism:

First, the best thing to do is ignore it and avoid it. One of the best things you can do for a racist White man or Black man, for that matter, is ignore him. Just leave him alone.

Second, do not get ruffled by racist/prejudiced people. If you get ruffled now, you will be getting ruffled the rest of your life. Always be cool, calm, and collected, as they say.

Third, “turn the other cheek”. Believe it or not, it works. It is kind of hard to fight a man who does not want to fight.

Fourth, do not allow yourself to become bitter. I repeat: do not allow yourself to become bitter. That is exactly what White racists want you to do—become bitter, angry and frustrated, because they know that you render yourself ineffective when you do so. Don’t let them get into your head like that. They know that a man who is filled with anger or bitterness cannot function or prosper.

Fifth, remember all White people are not racist or prejudice. Do not try to deal with the White community as a whole, but deal with each person on an individual basis. Treat them as you would like for them to treat you.

Sixth, become independent through knowledge and by having your own source of income, thus not putting yourself in a situation where you can be subject to racism.

Seventh, there are many dear White people who are not racist or prejudice; they simply do not understand some things. Take the time to help educate these good-hearted people in this matter.

Eighth, do not take racism too seriously. It is probably not that important of a matter right now. We can spend our energy in more productive ways.

Ninth, rioting, fighting, burning, and raising hell is not the way to deal with racism. All that does is drive the root of racism deeper. Avoid such asinine activities.

You can win over racism if you use your head and your heart.

Winning Over Racism and Prejudice,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Marcus Garvey said, “I would be nothing else in God’s creation but a black man.”

Ossie Davis said, “I find in being black, a thing of beauty; a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness.”

The Good White People (Letter 21)


racismDear Y.B.M.:

As I write to you about how to handle prejudice and racism in this great country of ours, allow me to quickly say here that, if God blesses you with some good white friends, give Him thanks. Just as there are bad white people, and bad black people for that matter, there are also some good white people in this country.

Don’t let anybody fool you, if it had not been for the Lord using some good white folks behind the scenes, many successful and notable black people would not have attained the success they have attained. Now, before you take that as a negative statement, please understand that it is a true statement. Many of the notable black people in this country, past and present, did not necessarily pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Some have, but most have had some help from some good black people and some good white people. Watch this:

1. Harriet Tubman had much help from some good white people on the underground railroad.

2. What would Frederick Douglass have done without his white abolitionist supporters?

3. Thank God for the good white people in Phillis Wheatley’s life.

4. Would slavery have ended if it had not been for the force of William Wilberforce?

5. Would Spelman College and Morehouse College have so superbly educated our best and brightest, including Martin Luther King, Jr., without some good white people? By the way, these historically black colleges are named after some good white people who made these fine institutions possible.

6. Even though Martin Luther King, Jr. led the way in the Civil Rights movement, there were many good white people who stood behind him and supported him with their prayers, presence, money, and some even with their lives.

7. And, finally, where would Barack Obama be with his historic run for the presidency without millions of good white people supporting him, against all odds?

Dear Y.B.M., please do not get into the mindset that all white people are out to get you. Even though I would encourage you to be “wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove”, when it comes to racism and prejudice in this country, be open to God using some good white people in your life, to open some doors for you that otherwise would not be open, and vice-versa.

Thank God for the good white people.

Yours for being wise,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

John Hope Franklin said, “We know all too little about the factors that affect the attitudes of the peoples of the world toward one another. It is clear, however, that color and race are at once the most important and the most enigmatic.”

Cornel West said, “A fully functional multiracial society cannot be achieved without a sense of history and open, honest dialogue.”

Margaret Atwood said, “I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race and that we are all members of it.”

Black on Black Racism (Letter 20)


racismDear Y.B.M.:

I hope that you have overcome your own racism or prejudice.

I am writing at this time to share something with you that may sound a bit strange, and that is, how to deal with black on black prejudice. It is amazing how that many of us get so upset at the prejudice of Whites, but hardly ever say anything about the prejudice that we often have toward one another in our own race.

What is this black on black prejudice anyway? This phenomenon raised its ugly head during Obama’s campaign for president. It is when you, as a Black man, have disdain for anything that is run, controlled, operated, or serviced by Black people. It is when you have this stupid something in your head that says “White is right,” or at least “better” than Black, and you count everything that Blacks do as second best or second rate simply because it is done by Blacks. This reminds me of a story an old saint shared with me. He said that back in his day they would joke about this phenomenon by saying the White man’s ice was colder than the Black man’s ice.

This kind of prejudice is evidenced in a Black picking a White lawyer over a Black lawyer, or a White doctor over a Black doctor, or a White dentist over a Black dentist. It is also evidenced in how many Blacks would rather deal with Whites often times in some of the more common areas of life; for example, waiting to deal with a White cashier over a Black cashier. Let me not fail to mention here, that probably the most painful one for our Black sisters is the Black man who thinks that the White woman is better than the Black woman.

Why are we prejudiced against our own people? First, we have bought into the subtle lie from our society that White is right, White is smarter, and White is better. Second, we watch too much television where Whites are often times seen as the heroes and the stars, and Blacks are seen as buffoons. Third, because many of us as blacks have bought into the lie that White is better, we actually do not strive for professionalism or excellence in our businesses and professions. It is in fact true that some Blacks have given other Blacks a bad name because they do not handle business in a professional manner. Fourth, some Blacks are so immature, petty and envious that they cannot stand to see another Black do well—the proverbial crab effect. Unfortunately, we have seen some of this in the Obama presidential campaign.

Dear young black man, overcome this strange prejudice against your own people by doing the following:

1. Accept the fact that all people are on level ground, even your people.

2. Those blacks who are not striving for excellence and professionalism in their respective jobs, challenge them in a loving way to do better.

3. Visit more black owned and operated businesses and professions.

4. If you go into business for yourself, or become a professional person, or even a cashier, treat all people with respect and dignity—even your own people.

Doing Away with Black on Black Prejudice,

Daniel

P.T.: Power Thoughts

Booker T. Washington said, “A sure way for someone to lift himself up is by helping to lift someone else.”

An African Proverb: “The African race is a rubber ball. The harder you dash it to the ground, the higher it will rise.”

Colin L. Powell said, “As you seek your way in the world, never fail to find a way to serve your community. Use your education and your success in life to help those still trapped in cycles of poverty and violence.”

How to Deal With Your Own Racism, Bitterness, Resentment and Anger (Letter 19)


Dear Y.B.M.:

racismI mentioned in my last letter, that you, a black man, could very well have some racism and prejudice in you. It is quite possible that you are a racist because you are a sinner like the rest of us.

Let me share a little story with you about how I became aware of some hidden racism and prejudice in my own heart. You might be asking: You, Daniel Whyte, a black man and a Christian? Yes, me — Daniel Whyte, a black man and a Christian — had to acknowledge some prejudice and racism in my own heart at one point in my life.

I was asked to speak in a meeting in southern California. It was a mixed audience—Whites, Blacks, and Latinos. A Latino was scheduled to speak before I was to speak. As this Latino brother rose to speak, this thought immediately crossed my wretched heart and mind: “What can this Latino, who probably got over here illegally, with his no alien card self and his broken English, tell us Blacks and Whites?” As soon as that thought finished its wicked course, God smote my heart and pointed out my own prejudice.

You see, I did not have any prejudice toward the white folk who were there because they spoke proper English and because they had been here since the inception of America. My racism was toward those who were different than we were. (“We” meaning Black and White, American-born, English-speaking people.) My racism was against those whom I somehow thought I had an advantage over, those whom I pridefully thought I was better than simply because I was born in America and spoke proper English. You see, I didn’t really hate this Latino brother, I just thought I was better than him. And that is all racism is: thinking you are better than another, because you are in the majority, or because you were here first, etc.

Could it be, dear young black man, that you have racism in your heart? No, you may not have this racist feeling toward whites, for some strange reason, but you have it toward Koreans, Indians, or Latinos. That feeling of pride, that wicked feeling of superiority that you have regarding these other minority groups, is the same feeling many Whites have about you. When you get up to speak, with no real effort of their own, many whites have the same thoughts that I had: “What can he tell us white people?” It is not really that they hate you; it is just that, for whatever reason, they think that they are better than you, that they are superior to you.

To be looked upon that way is degrading, isn’t it? It makes you feel bad and frustrated, doesn’t it? It makes you feel as though you are always under the gun to do 200-percent better than your white counterpart, doesn’t it? Well, guess how that Latino or Korean feels when you do them the same way? Here are some things that you can do to overcome your own racism:

First, admit and confess your sin of pride and racism or prejudice, and thinking that you are better than others.

Second, view and treat all men with dignity, love, respect, and without partiality. Always remember, what you dole out comes back to you triple-fold.

Third, do not come down hard on those less fortunate than you because those more fortunate than you have come down hard on you. In other words, just because one race treats you badly, you should not treat another race of people the same way.

You will find that understanding and dealing with your own racism and prejudice will help you deal with the racism of others.

Loving Everybody,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Franklin Thomas said, “One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.”

Someone said, “Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.”

Racism in America is Alive and Well (Letter 18)


Dear Y.B.M.:

racismI trust that you have great relationships in your life.

Things are changing a little in light of Barack Obama becoming president. However, racism, for the average black man in America, is still a reality and she ain’t going nowhere. You need to hear that in the raw because it is true, very true, and because there are many who will not impart to you that truth.

While I was growing up, no one, straight out, told me that racism still existed. It wasn’t until I was a grown man did I fully realize that racism and prejudice were still around and were deeply rooted in American society. Do not believe the lie that race relations are getting better. They are not! In fact, they are getting worse and more subtle, and will continue to get worse. Get it in your head: RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL AND SHE AIN’T GOING NOWHERE! Why is racism here to stay? Here are some things you need to understand:

First, racism is rooted in pride which is rooted in sin which is rooted in the hearts of all men, be they black, white, red or yellow. Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Racism is insidious. Although a man may not look like a racist on the outside, he may very well be a racist on the inside. And there is nothing that anybody can do to change another man on the inside.

Second, you need to understand firmly that this thing called racism, is not confined to the white man. It has its grips on the black man as well. This means that you, yes, you, may even be a racist yourself. Surprised?

Third, racism may not be the hatred of another race as many believe. Racism is simply pride — somehow foolishly thinking, “because I am white, or because I am black, or because I am Latino, I am better. I don’t really hate anybody, I just think that my race is superior.”

Fourth, there is only one real solution to the sin problem of racism and that is the sin-bearer—Jesus Christ. Only Jesus Christ can change a man’s heart from hate to love and from pride to humility. Even after he has allowed Jesus Christ to come into his heart, he will have to allow God to crucify his pride daily.

Racism is here to stay. You will probably have to deal with it from both sides, for the rest of your life, but thank God there is hope, and that progress is taking place.

Fighting Racism from the Inside Out,

Daniel

P.T.:

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays said, “If I were you, I would stand for something, I would count for something, and no man would push me around because my skin is black or his eyes are blue. I would stand for something. I would count.”

Bobby Seale said, “You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man — the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”