I find it most unfortunate that so many of our people have no idea of what happened to bring about their existence beyond the fact that they had parents. I'm really getting tired of people telling me that our history as a people in this world is not important to our day-to-day struggles ("History is irrelevant! What's past, is past!"). I'm also really tired of black people who reject their African ancestry ("I'm no African, I'm American!").
While many of our people reject Jewish people as friends of our race, we can learn from them. Nearly any Jew picked at random can tell you how the struggles of his people inspire perseverance, dedication and higher goal-setting. It is this sense of history which is instilled in nearly every Jewish child that makes such a difference in their sense of unity and pride.
This may sound like a very generalized statement but it's true: If we really understood the suffering our ancestors endured to survive long enough for the next generation to carry on, we would know that our outstanding debt to those people does not allow for any of us not doing our best at anything we can contribute.
Recently, I saw a movie called "Sankofa." If you ever get a chance to see it, please, please do. It will acquaint you with the hardships of slavery through the experiences of a 1990s' woman who is magically transported back in time to a life in bondage 300 years ago. Most of us today would say that we couldn't be a slave. The facts are that some of our ancestors felt the same way. Only one day they were captured, placed on a ship and sold into slavery in a very strange and very distant place.
Now we have a few opportunities. Life ain't easy but we have chances we never had before. Do your best at every shot. Our ancestors demand it. It is the only way you can begin to repay them for their suffering. Remember, suicide might have been an easier alternative for a person facing a life of slavery. But--a whole line of people might not have been born, including you.