If you think that hard work = success, boy oh boy do I have some news for you. *rolls up sleeves*
While I am a proud pessimist, I am also a realist (shout out to my Mama), and I can attest to the fact that if hard work did in fact equate to success there would not be a poor black person on this earth, in fact, Black Americans would surpass their white counterparts in generational wealth, because our ancestors literally built this country with their blood, sweat, tears, and hope; hope that one day their descendants (like myself) would be able to live a life free of bondage.
So while I could appreciate the optimistic, albeit intellectually lazy analysis that all it takes to be successful is hard work, determination, focus, and discipline, I will not.
I am a black woman from Memphis, TN, with deep roots in both North & South Carolina, I am a descendant of African slaves and Native Americans, it would be an insult to my heritage, to my lineage, to my intelligence to believe that I, and those who look like me could work hard and achieve this subjective idea of success in these United States, when my own enslaved ancestors built this country from the ground up (literally), and weren’t even considered people.
I may be a lot of things, but naieve isn’t one of them.
I have been actively studying African American history since I was 16 years old (10 years to be exact), and I learn something new about my people and subsequently the country I call my home on a regular basis, and I can say with the firmest conviction that if you believe hard work = success, your conceptualization of work and success is superficial, and you should probably shut up.
More importantly, I have a 79 year old grandfather, a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant (OORAH), a man of distinction, wisdom, and logic, if there was ever anyone in my lifetime that deserved to reap the benefits of hard work, determination, and discipline, without a doubt, it is him.
Make no mistake my grandfather is not in dire need of anything, he is comfortable and happy (as long as he takes his naps), however, he worked hard, and he worked hard for a country that legally, systematically, and institutionally oppressed him, his wife, and his three children, yet he worked hard.
He worked hard because he had to, he worked hard because that was expected of him, and it was expected for him to do so without complaining. He was expected to work his ass off and be grateful for the opportunity. Take a minute to think on that. A black man, a descendant of African slaves and Native Americans was to work hard without complaining, and be grateful for the opportunity. Astounding. But he did it, and he deserved more than what he got, he deserves more than what he has, he deserves everything. He deserves what is his. His hard work will surpass his lifetime; his hard work will be reflective in generations to come. After all, if it were not for his hard work, determination, discipline, focus, and sacrifice, you would not be reading this blog right now.
So please understand that my opinion on the hard work = success discussion is unapologetically and unyieldingly: Bullshit.
I will believe that hard work = success when Black Americans are not told to “Go back to Africa” when we criticize how we are treated in a nation that was built on the backs of our ancestors.
I will believe that hard work = success when Black Americans are not paid less than their white counterparts.
I will believe that hard work = success when Black Americans don’t feel the need to justify their success, and it is instead considered a birth right in a nation that prides itself on all men being created equal.
I will believe that hard work = success when Black Americans no longer have to pay taxes in the United States of America.
I will believe that hard work = success when the United States finally admits that the hard work of African slaves, and their descendants is what built and sustained this country in its entirety.
Until then, you can miss me with your pseudo-analysis on hard work, success, and how that correlates to my Black American ass.
Hard work doesn’t equal success.
Hard work = Harold A. Butcher Sr., better known as TaTa.