Wednesday, November 22, 2017
The Audacity of Hope
By Darryl James (Columnist)
Published March 5, 2009

Right now, some people are feeling that the end is near.

The economy is the worst that it has been in decades and many people are losing everything. Some people are losing homes, jobs, cars and at the end of their wits, many people are losing their sanity, taking themselves out of the human race, and sadly, taking others with them.

But those who understand the struggle of life, understand that even in the midst of the deepest despair and in the depths of the darkest times, there is still hope.

Our new President delivered a message and is now on a mission based on his audacity of hope. Many of us embraced his mantra of "Yes We Can," and are now chanting "Yes We Did!" This means that there is still hope among us.

We must use it to combat the hopelessness, because there are still far too many of us who would rather embrace the dark and not the light and who view the glass as half empty instead of half full.

As a people, we have become less hopeful.

Certainly, things are in a tailspin for everyone in our nation. Not everyone is singing "Happy Days Are Here Again," yet we pretend that things are uniquely bleak for Black people.

And, when we embrace such a dark perspective, then for each of us who accepts it, it is reality.

But what some people are managing to do is find hope.

People are finding hope in the fact that while 47% of Black women age 30 to 34 have never been married, 53% have been, and many still are.

For all the hype about Black men marrying White women, 94% of all Black men are married to Black women.

People are finding hope in the fact that while Black women have become the fastest growing group of people infected with HIV, most Black women are not infected and most will more than likely not be.

People are finding hope in the fact that while roughly nine hundred thousand Black men are in prison, most Black men are not.

People are finding hope in the fact that while there are more Black women than Black men in college, there are still more Black men in college than in prison, despite the misinterpretation of the statistics.

And, people are finding hope in the fact that while the Prozac candidates hawk their propaganda about how there are fewer of us available for dating, there are still many of us finding each other, dating and getting married.

But some of us want to focus on bad news and lies to lose our hope and bring hopelessness to the rest of us.

In recent discussion with a sad Black man who believes that the rest of the Black male population is even sadder than he, I deflected his assertion that there were more Black men in prison than college with the real statistics manipulated to come to that fake conclusion.

And after I deflected his mythology, he shook off my enlightenment and came right back with: "Well, don't you think that it's still sad that we are such a disproportionate portion of the prison population?

I countered with yes, but shouldn't we rejoice that there are less of us in prisons than in college? And shouldn't we rejoice in the fact that the total prison population of Black men is a relatively small percentage of the total Black male population according to the most recent census statistics available?

But, he was as determined to hold on to his hopelessness and pass it on, as I was to remain hopeful and pass that on. And I left him alone with his sadness as I walked away with my belief in a brighter future for Black people in America.

So, with so much to be hopeful for, why is there so much negativity being spread around?

The sad and simple truth is that negativity is far more seductive than positivity. The dark side of the force is no more powerful than the light side, yet, the dark side is more seductive because of its forbidden nature, which sparks curiosity.

Ask any of the harbingers of doom and gloom, and they can quote few statistics that haven't been popularized by the mass media–erroneous or not.

Ask them to talk about anything they have truly seen or touched outside of the fifteen to twenty people they know and they can only make passing reference to what they've seen with no real substance.

But yet, they are embracing hopelessness.

Black women sit in front of whole, healthy, educated, emotionally and financially stable Black men and lament about the horrible state of the Black man, some even exclaiming to the same men that they are so hopeless that they are considering dating outside of the race.

What shall the Black man of quality say to these sisters?

And what shall the Black women of substance who still desire love from Black men say to the Black men who seem to ignore their presence in order to focus on the horribly negative and mean-spirited women who pretend that the negative statistics define the entire male portion of the race?

I'll say this to Black women: Women are the only ones who use finance and education to measure potential mates. Check the marriage statistics or conduct a real survey and you'll find that finance and education were not the criteria used to find and secure stable, lasting relationships.

And, I'll say this to Black men: The Black women with the nasty attitudes who believe that their education and illusion of wealth mean more than they do are not the majority. There are still smart, beautiful, healthy Black women who understand what a partnership is all about.

It's hard to deliver hope to the hopeless. Especially when the hopeless are not interested in finding hope, but only in perpetuating their dismal outlook on life and love.

The hopeless are thieves of dreams as they focus on what is wrong, turning away from what is right and what can be done to make wrong things right.

But there are many of us who are still hopeful.

What shall we say to the "Chicken Littles" who spread their depressed version of the world?

We should say to them (say it with me): "Stop talking to me! I refuse to allow your negativity to darken my dreams. I refuse to listen to your hopelessness because I believe in the possibility of love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for myself and for my people. I believe in these things because I know that they exist for many of us in this nation."

There is nothing more to say to someone whose focus is skewed, whose future is dim and who avoids the silver lining in order to focus on the dark cloud.

If we pay too much attention to negative people, stupid magazines, insipid television shows and our own dark pessimism, we can come away with the idea that things are worse than they are.

And, really, when it comes to the hopeless, many of them are only sad and lonely because instead of building bridges to other human beings who are real, they build walls against rumored Black boogeymen and boogeywomen who may not even exist.

But for all the ignorant lies that are passed around about Black men and women, love still survives. The smartest of us will combat the lies and focus on the beauty that is all around us.

I have the audacity to hope for the following reasons:

I was raised in a house where there was a husband and a wife. I have married siblings, including my oldest sister and my oldest brother.

I am fortunate enough to have a circle of friends who are married and happy. They are honest about their struggles and open about their happiness.

I think people who claim that what they want doesn't exist, yet believe in God are liars. They can claim belief in God without seeing him, but they can't have faith in human beings God created who are all around them every day.

Black people are a spiritual people and we build our spirituality when we connect to other human beings. However, we lose some of our spirituality when we exhibit resistance to the positive while embracing the negative.

We lose some of our spirituality when we embrace superficiality, speaking of a desire for someone to have material things, or monetary status-both of which are temporary and shallow.

We lose some of our spirituality when we try to control everything around us, pretending that we are strong and beautiful and that those who could please us are faulty because they are not pleasing us.

And we lose some of our spirituality when we walk through the world selfishly, believing that we should have what we want because we want it, without care as to whether we truly deserve it.

We should have the audacity to hope, if for no other reason than hope can be nurtured in the youth who will be tomorrow's adults and who can carry us into a better day. They can do so with greater ease if they are left unscathed by depressed perspectives.

We can either choose to be hopeful and so carry ourselves on the wings of dreams into a better tomorrow, or we can be hopeless and be left behind while the rest of the world sails to shores of better days.

We can and should have the audacity to hope.


Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology "Notes From The Edge," available now at He released his first mini-movie, "Crack," and this year, will release his first full-length documentary. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

Categories: Opinion

Get the Los Angeles Sentinel App!


LA Sentinel
in your pocket:

© 2017 Los Angeles Sentinel All Rights Reserved • A Bakewell Media Publication

Contact UsAboutMedia KitCorrections & Misprints

Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy

LA Watts TimesTaste of Soul

Close / I'm already on the list

Subscribe Today!

Don't be limited anymore! Subscribe Now »

** Existing subscribers, please Login / Register for Digital »

Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

Relax in comfort each week as you read the printed newspaper on your own time, delivered weekly to your home or office. This subscription also includes UNLIMITED DIGITAL ACCESS for all of your devices. Includes FREE shipping! One easy payment of $3.99/month gets you:

Subscribe Now »