I read Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, after college when I returned to my normal reading life. For years, I worried that I was neither smart nor important enough to disappear from the world as the entrepreneurs and industrialists in the novel leave to make a plan to thwart socialism. Canadian economist Reuven Brenner refers to these rare individuals as the “vital few.” These thoughts have led me to write this series about black achievement across the wide spectrum of American life. The series features but a few of the black men and women who have proven it is possible to live to the other side of the past and live among the “vital few.” The series is offered as an inspiration to all who aspire to live the possibilities of their lives.
When hearing the ongoing rhetoric of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and some of our City Council Members, and cohorts who preach the victimization of blacks, you never hear about the lives mentioned in this series. Such achievements do not support their narrative. Those who cry victimization have made a handsome living to the detriment of their communities. Drive through Wards 1-4 and see for yourself what years of this world view have wrought. This shameless position affects black youth who hear little about the possibilities of their lives. I have spent hours dragging photos and taking notes about black people who have taken responsibility for their lives against all odds and helped change the world. Their photos need to be pinned on bedroom walls as a sign of what is possible. (To think that 63 years after the publication of Atlas we are facing an election about the very thing Rand wrote: we must save Capitalism!)
I think we have come to a place in black America, sadly from my point of view, where we have once again begun to rely on our history of victimization as our primary source of power to wield within society. -Shelby Steele
Misty Danielle Copeland is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history. Since then, whenever Ms. Copeland has danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances have become events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. When she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater she becomes the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met.
Because She Did, I Can: A Conversation with My Young Black Ballerina
I wanted to open the dialogue about race in ballet and bring more people in. It’s just beautiful to see the interest that has exploded for such an incredible art form that I will forever be grateful to! Misty Copeland