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The Invisible Society: The Black Engineer Awards

It is a typical Thursday night in Philadelphia. “Must see” television haunts the houses of many families who drift away from what used to be the living room, to engage in the internet, cell phone, tablet driven evening worship of all things electronic. In the average African American home, dinner has been ordered or reheated and dealt out to the usually more than four participants, though not necessarily residents, of the dwelling. Laughter can be heard, although not from a unit gathered around a sturdy table reliving the ordeals of the day, but from the singular corners of conversation that are brought to you by bandwidth and cell towers. Evenings such as these go by uninspired. Hearts are untouched with hopes and visions of tomorrow like those that cause youngsters to rush to bed anticipating a still Christmas morning. Excitement is a fleeting moment when the stamp goes on a tax return, with no thoughts to future financial possibilities beyond that of a great pending retail store sale. The esteem of the individual draws the young African American women to the mirror to check for blemishes and young men to the floor for one more push up. Life has become quietly about tomorrow and simply no further. Looking good, feeling good, surviving school or the work place has risen to a place of prominence. Yet, under the current of the mundane, motionless state of a once great culture, pulses a stifled and all but invisible pageantry, the likes that may never come to full light.

[pullquote_left]I correct my error now, realizing that the Black Engineers of the Year were not invisible but simply ignored.[/pullquote_left]

The awards ceremonies honoring the Black Engineers in our country were under way. A who’s who of talent, skill and genius assembled to answer a roll call of gifted minded engineers from all walks of life and professions. Among the enlisted were PhD physicist, electrical engineers, and chemical engineers, design engineers whose influence and creativity have been the legend that bolsters the productivity of great conglomerates as well as government entities. Bearing witness to thousands of people from my culture coming together to shine a light on the accomplishments of great thinkers who created satellite technologies, advanced weapons, medical cures and the like was a mind altering experience. Watching persons of color promenade across a sixty foot stage, lit with moving lights that flashed and pulsed in a splendid spectacle worthy of red carpets and paparazzi birthed in my a renewed accountability to be great! Great; not for the sake of my own wealth or notoriety amongst a shallow few elite citizens, but great with the realization that my next thought, invention or speech could alter the tide of civilization and have global impact. I was inspired. Faces like mine that have risen out of racism and classism to achieve at levels that brought out generals from the nation’s armed forces to cheer them on, existed. There was hope, though the dreams of my children were far from me, the light of success was too bright to ignore. I will accomplish that which I was placed on this earth to do. What a feeling! Thursday brought with it awards for advances in sciences, and technologies. I am not sure I even realized that anyone designed computer systems capable of seeing specs of dust from satellites in space, let alone that they were being conceptualized

by people of color. Thursday evening brought out the brass, Generals and Rear Admirals who, with starched, crisp uniforms that shimmered with adornments only seen in Hollywood films, honored people of color. Designers of weapon systems for the Department of Defense, that did not kept America on par with other super powers on the globe, but that propelled the U.S. ahead of the advancements of its global counterparts. Friday night captured the praises of hundreds honoring college level inventors. Young men and women who were already contributing to the advances of science and industry crossed the stage. Oh, for the chance for my son and daughter to be exposed to the possibility of greatness on this scale. Saturday night filled a ballroom with an estimated three thousand applauding, proud citizens of the world who honored the greatness of a people once thought to be inferior because of the color of their skin. The once thought incompetent had achieved prominence. The heirs of bigotry and forced ignorance had pushed aside the hatred and scars of hundreds of years of embattled history and reconnected with the immensity of their true heritage. We are not, as purported by the media, a people who do not care for our global society. Nor are we, as portrayed to be, only robbers, scammers and social degenerates incapable of excelling in institutions of higher learning and board rooms filled with governing bodies. We are extraordinarily gifted, articulate, erudite members of society. We are doctors, entrepreneurs and engineers. The weekend was full of tribute and approbation. Seats were filled with influential dignitaries and stylishly fashioned intellectuals. The only thing empty about the experience was the media coverage. There were no reporters fussing and pushing to get the perfect photo of the computer chip designer. No shoving to solicit what amusement park would be visited in triumphant revelry. As a matter of interest to this writer, there were no news cameras, reporters or social bloggers present to advance the breaking news of the successes of the event. No, the lights would dim at evening’s end and the microphones silenced. What was possibly the greatest assembly of the nation’s most prominent African American achievers would stand in the corner of modern history unseen. After researching what it means to be invisible, as this article claims is the plight of the African American success story, I realized my error. According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2009) to be invisible means to not be able to be seen; to be inaccessible to view. I correct my error now, realizing that the Black Engineers of the Year were not invisible but simply ignored.

If we are to inspire, we must continue to push the advancements of those working to achieve true greatness off of the basketball courts and football fields. We must expose our youth to the tuxedo donned scholars who are paving the way for the advancements in chip memory, which makes the gaming stations so compelling. We must call for media outlets to exhibit African American college graduates with belts displayed at their intended height, excelling in fields that do not lead to damaged knees and concussed craniums. Are struggle is not over; it is simply being ignored.



The American Heritage Dictionary (2009) Invisible. Retrieved February 23, 2012 at

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