“The Firsts……” Don’t be bamboozled by “their” title

By: Roy Douglas Malonson

 “The first Black…” This is a phrase many of us are used to as our never-ending fight for equity ensues. From the first Black woman in space to the first Black President of the United States, being the first is a coveted position and highly praised within our communities. But it’s time to start thinking, are ‘firsts’ a symbol of racial progress in America, or a form of tokenism?

While breaking the hypothetical glass ceiling is something to be proud of, we often confuse the act of having the “first Black person” in a position with tokenism. The truth is, being the first Black person in any company in 2021, is a slap in the face and an embarrassment. These ‘firsts’ are one of many qualified and overqualified Black people who were overlooked, underestimated, and cheated from positions they’ve rightfully deserved but were not able to have because of their skin color.

For a company to boast about having their first Black person in a certain position in 2021 is the equivalent to them saying “Hey, we’re not racist, we provide equal opportunity, we believe in progress, take a look at this negro, he proves it all.” Corporations should be scrutinized for their lack of inclusivity and discrimination while parading around their few token negroes in the name of ‘diversity.’

What we often fail to realize is the immense pressure and responsibility of being the first Black person in a hostile all-white environment. Constantly advocating and representing for the whole Black race, always having to be three times as good as mediocre white coworkers to prove you belong, being looked over, the racist microaggressions, having to eliminate foundations of racist practices and ideologies within a company day in and day out, it’s enough to break anyone.

As Black consciousness takes on a new stride in learning about our own histories and inventions, contributions, etc, we start learning that many of our ‘firsts’ were not the first.

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat made her a pioneer during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, but the actual first person to stand her ground against a white person on a segregated bus was Claudette Colvin, a pregnant 15-year-old Black girl arrested for her protest in 1955.

Bubba Wallace became the second Black driver in NASCAR history to win a Cup Series race this month after a victory at the Talladega Speedway. The first being Wendell Scott, the true victor of the NASCAR 1963 Cup Series, who was wrongfully denied his position after a white driver was declared the winner. Two hours after the race, officials found that Scott was the true winner and he received prize money without the trophy or press knowing the truth.

The Black Panther, widely considered as Black America’s first Black superhero dating back to 1966, comes almost two decades after Orrin C. Evans, a pioneering Black journalist and comic book publisher, created the All-Negro Comics, the first comic book with all Black characters.

And just this week, white folks “proudly announced” that civil rights pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune will be the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue in US Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The 11-foot-tall marble statue of Bethune will replace Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, a request made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019.

Many of our trailblazing pioneers – who didn’t receive their flowers while they were alive – are just starting to get recognition. Most of the movement we see is due, in large part, to the racial reckoning from the globally publicized death of former Houston resident George Floyd, who was brutally murdered in broad daylight by a white, racist police officer.

We’ve been through so much, we’ve fought too long and hard, we’ve paved many ways and we’ve sacrificed too many innocent lives.  It is time for our beautiful, Black people to continue kicking butt and taking names and UNDERSTAND that even though they “tell” you that someone is the “first,” there may have been someone else who either actually was and was never given the recognition – or laid the foundation for others to soar in the greatness that Blacks have been commanding for years.




Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top