Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black People and Personal Responsibility

I saw this posted on one of my friend's blogs on Multiply:

"My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victims perspective."

- Dr. Cornel West

In response to that, I posted this:

I would like some knowing person to tell me how to address the needs of those disadvantaged people so that they can hold their own while teaching them to teach their children how to avoid being disadvantaged in the first place.

Is it education? Why do our children score so much lower even in predominantly black schools? Is that racism? Who is teaching them to be victims there?

Is it job disparity? Probably, but who is working to keep solid jobs from going overseas? Is that a racist ideal when they are farming those jobs to even poorer, more disadvantaged people than those here? It would seem that it is a business model rather than a racist model; a model allowed to be followed by our government.

Is it lack of business opportunities within our communities? Do we support our own business structure which is at the same disadvantage as any other community going up against the Wal-Mart, Targets, et al, who by their sheer size can suppress prices and keep them low by suppressing wages as well. Where are our Black cooperatives who can buy in enough quantities to make their products and services competitive?

I can understand the lingering vestiges of slavery and racism and their effects upon the psyche of our folks, but by the same token, who is stepping up and actually leading black people to a better reality which does not allow for complaining about those from outside the community and address those from within who drag us down, not by perceptions of those from the outside, but their criminal and pathological actions from within...when they prey on the rest of us.

Why are we allowing our sub-culture to represent us? Who says that white media giants like Viacom have to tell us who we are when we don't put pressure on TVOne and RadioOne to tell the truth about our a manner which allows us to believe it and then pursue it.

There is a fine line being tred here, Rip. We acknowledge and do not deny the effects of racism but we seem to be waiting for the racist to stop being racist before we take our next steps.

We need to be personally responsible for our next steps...and we need to, as a community, protect and enhance our self-image so that the next steps are the proper ones to ensure a racial identity that does not allow for someone else to dictate that for us.

Who cares who or what Clarence says or does when we can follow a construct that is just as positive in an American way that does not point to him as the model to follow? We have enough heroes out here that we do not acknowledge or support and that lack of support is enough to make the most naive disadvantaged black person believe that there is no hope.

Since none of us are leaving this country to go to another or form another, what do we do while WE are here ... for ourselves?

If Dr. West does not want us to go through the blame-the-victim thing, does he have a solution that WE can put into effect?

I would like your thoughts...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Illusion of Post Raciality

First, I thank God for my life and the redemption of my soul through His Son, Jesus, who is the Christ.

Second, I thank God for making me a Black man. I am not an African-American, I am Black. President Obama and my dear friend, Olu are African-Americans. I was born in Freedman's Hospital in the District of Columbia.

Third, much to the dismay of some, I am afraid that I will always be Black. As much as we may want to wish the distinctions could go away, they just won't. The Larry Elders and Thomas Sowells of the world would prefer that we all just be American and not concern ourselves with the past that has been a horribly crippling influence on so many of our lives.

But, the rest of America just won't let us.

There are so many things that are done to us by people just because we're Black. To be sure, Black-on-Black crime and homicides are high but that's because the criminal element has no where else to go when so many like people are corralled together in poverty-ridden pockets of our society with inferior services and deficient access to equal opportunities and channels. To that convenient degree, white folks can always point their fingers and say, "'s not really OUR problem as much as it is yours!"

That's not to say that some excel in spite of those circumstances and no matter who we are, we should always seek to better our lot in life. Larry Elder bemoans the "victim" mentality of those who want to blame the American system for their plight. He will cherry pick examples of how accepting the rest of society is by pointing out minutia like when certain Black celebrities are the highest viewed or the highest paid or the most whatever. What he fails to note is that these people are exceptional and SHOULD be the most regarded based on their talents and efforts.

But, there are those left behind that are unable to elevate themselves beyond sub-standard-hood because they are TRAPPED in a cycle which will not allow them to flee their circumstances. I'm not one to blame slavery and/or white people for the horrors they visited upon my folks over the last four hundred years or so when we have the chance to do well with what we do have; and the voice to demand equal treatment and access. Our tax dollars allow us that privilege and we should be wrenching whatever money we can to improve our lot and take advantage of what is there.


is America truly ready to be post-racial? Are they prepared to fully accept us as we are...Black and American?

I suspect that now that President has ascended to the highest office in the land, that some people feel it is OK to speak openly about their attitudes on race...and frankly that's a good thing. We need to, however, anticipate that the latent prejudices of people who have only their view of America seen through their racial blinders will now be free to speak out AGAINST us in terms of how we are pathologically disposed to poverty and violence, etc.

They're going to say it because they have always felt that way and are now free to speak openly about it.

They seek an end to profiling and quotas and racial distinctions but how can they disappear when they cannot get past our Blackness and our other darkly hued citizens? They constantly point out our differences but want those differences to be purged from all daily practices.

I understand what it means to be an American. I truly believe in its creed and its promise. I'm not, however, going to let someone get away with not keeping her promise to me or anyone else. I am going to be Black...sorry...can't be helped. My culture will add a lot to what your culture is and together we will have an American culture, not a Euro-centric one that the racially-nostalgic seek when they decry diversity.

We all know that when we are collectively attacked by anything or anyone, we all become the most American Americans ever! Why wait until then to bridge the gaps between us? We can proactively create a climate that allows for accepting people for who they are, what they can contribute, and not concern ourselves with creating an identity that falls short of our abilities to live together in peace and harmony.

There are a lot of things that I don't like about my folks...there are many things that I personally believe just "don't have to be." I feel that we are a truly blessed people with many very good things about us. And, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to curing our own ills.

But, at least the discussion is afoot and rather than concern ourselves with what white people think about us now that President Obama is in place, we should concern ourselves with this new enlightenment which is shining brightly on us as a result and hope that we don't get blinded by all the glaring scrutiny long enough to fix our own problems.

I would suggest changing the discussion from one of "post-raciality" to "post-racism" because we will all be racial but we do not have to be racist.