Soledad O’Brien gave us her take…twice. Brother Smiley, for several years, until now (RIP SOBU), gave great thinkers the opportunity to give their views. Dr. West, Dr. Dyson, and even the legend, Dick Gregory all have their stance on our current situation. I can’t discredit any of the aforementioned and I won’t attempt to. Each of these views helps give some level of understanding as to why we, as a community, are in the current situation we’re in today. But I’d still like to share my views…
First…what is that current situation? For those that would read this with acerbic cynicism because you feel “we” are doing just fine. That’s cool to think that. But when 1,000,000+ of us are locked up, almost half of us aren’t graduating from high school (even less from college), and more than half of us are living in single parent homes, you’re sadly mistaken…”we” aren’t doing just fine… So why are we in the fix? Well, guided by the foresight of Aristotle, to understand the now, we must analyze the beginning and its development. If you go back to the 1960s and say it’s because we desegregated schools…you didn’t go back far enough…
The year is 1619, and the first Blacks (Negroes) come over to America. This is of great importance…It is during this time that the Negro race (dubbed Negroes by the Europeans) would begin being stripped of many things Africana. Our language was replaced. Our names were replaced. Our reality of independent and human existence was replaced. Though Blacks were not officially slaves until the House of Burgesses snuck it into law in 1661, and enforced it in 1662, they were not granted nor viewed as equal citizens. They came in as “indentured servants” and after they were freed, they were banished from Virginia; those that remained would be servants for life.
From the beginning of Negro existence in the British Colonies, an inferiority complex grasped hold of the Negroes’ minds. They were made to feel less than a second class citizen…shucks, they weren’t even citizens. As time would progress, they were considered three-fifths of a person. For many years, we were subject to the hand of an oppressor… “The White Man.”
As long as the hand of oppression came from without the Black community, you would see us at our best. We united and fought because there was a need to prove to ourselves, but to the oppressor as well, that we are “better than.” We endured centuries of slavery, but somebody woke up one day and said, “That’s enough!” The sentiment spread. Underground Railroads, slave revolts, abolition conventions, Civil War bloodshed…next thing you know we have the 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional amendments. (The jury is still out on number 16 though…)
Even though we were free on paper, we were still made to feel like slaves from an institutional stance. Poll taxes when they know you’re poor. Literacy tests we they know you can’t read. Poor housing. Poor schools. Poor jobs. Thus the dawning of Jim Crow…crafty slavery. Once again, some people woke up one day and said, “We’ve had enough!” Just like in the days of slavery. We united and we fought. Like the abolition conventions during slavery, mass meetings were held during the Civil Rights’ Movement: IN THE CHURCH! (That’s a whole ‘nother post right there…) Marches, rallies, litigation, legislation, and even martyrdom took place to prove to the oppressed and the oppressor that we are “better than.” And as a result we got the Civil Rights’ Acts and Voting Rights Act signed into law.
Insert monkey wrench. Certainly, prejudices were still present (Don’t think just because we have a Black president everyone is ready to gather around the proverbial interracial campfire and sing Kumbaya!) But for the first time since a Black person dashed his foot on the sediment on the banks of the James River in 1619, we were given a level playing field. We could vote and we could get education.
If we only knew how powerful those two things were. Well, after the demise of Martin Luther King, Jr., Black leadership failed to communicate to the masses that the “struggle” had been won. There still was a mentality that there was something more to gain. Leadership’s efforts were likened unto the Battle of Anderson, SC… Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 to end the Civil War, but on May 1, 1865, the Union and Confederacy were still fighting in Anderson, SC!
More time was given to post-war battles (law suits and marches against prejudice) instead of Reconstruction (an over exerted effort to push education and voting). You can even see that today…there are a couple of Reverends that get on TV in light of racial discrimination that rows up emotion, but does very little to even tickle “Intellect’s” big toe.
After we got the irrevocable (sorta-kinda) right to humane citizenship and voting, the oppressor’s (from without) hands were forever bound…we didn’t have to prove anything to those outside the community… But now we feel we have something to prove to each other and in the process we tear down one another. Turn on your radio and get your hip hop station. What’s the #1 thing that’s rapped about? Themselves and their credibility to tear other people’s credibility. Listen to the jokes that come out..I wouldn’t be forthright if I were to say some of it isn’t funny…but a lot of it tears each other down. Turn on your movies. I’m not talking about “The Great Debaters” but the next generation of Blaxploitation…it celebrates and glorifies things that tear us down. Music videos, magazines, YouTube videos, and whatever media outlet you can name, we have turned against each other; the hand of the oppressor is now in the community and we don’t know how to deal with it. The intraracial hate is so thick! Black blood on Black hands, Black drug habits proliferated by Black hands… I could go on and on.
***I said all of that to say, the real problem in the Negro community today is that many fail to realize we don’t have anything to prove to anybody (Black, White, Purple, or Green) but to our own individual. The main solution to this problem is education. Period.***
Tell me, what do you think the Negro community can do to push education?
Until the next time…