Friday, January 22, 2010

A Mental Flush

Just taking some time to clear away thoughts that are trying to root themselves in my cerebral cortex.


The tragedy of this catastrophe is one of truly Biblical proportions. Tens of thousands adding up to millions of people have been affected adversely by this. The images flowing from the island depict the human toll in poignant and horrific ways. It reminds one of Katrina on a number of different levels but certain threads remain true. The world saw the devastation of Katrina and felt the human connection, just like here.

But, like then, there are some people who feel that what has happened is somehow the victim's fault. When you have a category five hurricane and a 7.0 level earthquake come through and wipe everything out, I find it difficult to see how these victims brought these onto themselves.

Thankfully, from my point of view, the Lord is in the details of the rescue. He has moved so many hearts to do "something" for the Haitians; some not knowing quite what, but they know they must do something. In our prayers, we ask for comfort, deliverance, and holy intervention to ease the suffering of these poor souls.

We also ask that a hedge of protection be placed around them to avoid the slings and arrows of the insensitive; a carpet beneath them to carry them away from the despair; and a roof of compassion to protect them from the torrent of criticism which clouds the vision of those who would help but have their eyes veiled by hatred.

I wrote on my Facebook page one day, "Today, we are all Haitian." Today is no different and I pray that all who view the devastation will be moved to identify with the human condition present there.

Barack Obama

It's been a year since history was made in America when a Black man was elected President. Since then, the cynics have whittled away at his agenda; the haters became Teabaggers and Birthers; and Black people on many levels felt betrayed. I'm not sure what Black and Brown and Gay folks expected on January 20, 2009 but I hope they didn't really expect the United States of America to rename itself in recognition of their plight because they have a Black man in the Office.

I am not one who agrees with everything that Mr. Obama has done, or is even trying to do. But, I believe that one cannot spend their way out of a problem without fixing the underlying foundation that caused it. The roots of the ills of this country are nestled deep in its political process which chooses to ignore the real problems of the vast middle class to chase an ideology from both left and right that doesn't address who is most affected.

America, the experiment, is no longer here.

We need to get down and dirty with the issues that plague us all. Issues beginning with education and the entire concept of providing/getting an education. We provide the access but we consider it a right when it should be thought of as a privilege. If we did, maybe we would consider our schools to be more precious than just a baby sitter.

We need to stop blaming other things for which we KNOW we are responsible. I'm not talking about the shed-the-victim psychosis of some right-wing Blacks who know there are mitigating circumstances to most of their fellow Blacks' plight. But, we if were are going to remain corralled in these pockets of poverty, then we need to ensure that every resource in that neighborhood comes to bear so that the entire neighborhood can shed the mantel of guilt-by-association.

President Obama in his effort to create a mainstream legacy apparently wasn't prepared for the bitter partisanship that has derailed his efforts. One of the Democrats's long standing problems has been letting the Republicans define them. It is apparent in the healthcare debate. When he tried to couple healthcare reform with universal coverage, he painted a big bulls-eye right on his back. He let the left wing of his party run the show when he should have stood on his bully pulpit, ala Ronald Reagan, and demanded action on the change demanded by those who elected him.

When you lose the Perception Battle, you are well on your way to losing the War. I am afraid that I have to give President Obama only a C+ for his first year.

The Economy

This is a capitalist society and those who assume the most risk, put forth the most effort, and operate in the most efficient way, are rewarded with the most money. It has been this way forever. Those who exhibit and fit this entrepreneurial description should be able to earn whatever they want through ethical and fair means. The playing field should allow those who are the best to be the best.

When this society allows the practices of the mega corporations: the insurance companies and the so-called banks (when was an investment house supposed to ever be a bank? These investments houses through the stroke of a pen became banks and were handed billions as part of the stimulus package) began to run our economy which at this point is becoming a currency-based economy because we're not making anything anymore.

  • The issue of the deficit is never addressed.
  • The issue of our currency's value v. the Euro or other monetary standards is never addressed.
  • The issue of our crumbling infrastructure is never addressed.

We are watching the Fall of the American Empire (conceptually) right before our very eyes yet people want to play ideological games with the coming apocalypse.

Perceptions of a People

I've written before how tough it is to be Black in America. I am getting a little tired of being reminded of that fact seen in a vacuum of inactivity. To be sure, there are those who scream and holler about how we are perceived when some old or young insensitive delivers a perceived insult towards us or our icons.

I have also written that a lot of this perceptional bias is our fault. I mean, from where do you think they get these images in the first place? When most of us are clustered in the inner cities and conduct ourselves with so much glow-in-the-dark behavior, even those Blacks who "escaped" this environment lower their eyes as they drive home at night.

I have thought a lot this weekend about people who are so angry about how Black people are treated that I have to wonder what they think is the answer to prevent folks from hating us so.

Let's look at a couple of things: a White person hates Black people. OK, fine. What can you do to make them stop? Perhaps nothing. But, since we can all move to where we can afford to live, what's next if you want to move into THEIR neighborhood? Or, are they welcome in YOURS? Either way, someone is going to perceive that their neighborhood will suffer a loss, either through depressed property values when you move near them, or the dreaded gentrification when they move near you.

You have some Black people who are so angry at White people that I have to ask out loud what they want White people to do when it comes to them? Do you want to co-exist with them, or do you want them to leave you alone--all alone? If one selects the latter, then what are you going to do to make sure that you will be all that you want to be? Are you prepared to move away to another country to make sure this happens?

You have some White people who are so angry at Black people that I have to ask out loud what they want Black people to do when it comes to them? Do you want to co-exist with them, or do you want them to leave you alone--all alone? If one selects the former, then what do you want to do to ensure that everyone is in a safe and peaceful environment...I mean, what will YOU do about those Whites who won't agree with you to persuade them to leave YOU and your new neighbors alone?

At some point, for there to be true peace in this world, someone is going to have to talk to someone about the perceptions that people have of each other. I am not going to purport to speak for anyone in general but, in my opinion, I would prefer to start with that part of this problem that I have some measure of control over and that is myself and my family. If someone agrees with me, then I am more than willing to form a coalition of the willing.

  • I want to do whatever I can to eliminate this perception by some Black folks that being educated in our school system is tantamount to being a White person.
  • I want to do whatever I can to ensure that our neighborhoods are clean and safe. Plant some flowers; pick up the trash; don't walk on the grass; save the grafitti for some place where it can be appreciated.
  • Support the people in your neighborhood who are willing and able to put their businesses where you live. Sure, the prices may be lower at that Big Box store 10 miles away but what's wrong with a "Black Wall Street" that you can walk to? Create enterprise zones so that the savvy business person can have a financial incentive as well as a moral one to do so.
  • Have monthly Block Parties and get to know your neighbors by their names.
  • Join the PTA--today!
  • Encourage doctors and pharmacists to move into your neighborhood so you will have access to the care you need.
  • Form cooperatives to ensure that your businesses can buy at the lowest possible price and be competitive.
  • Keep your kids under martial law. Make them so afraid to mess up at the mall, on the bus, or the subway, under the fear of your almighty wrath that they will straighten up and fly right in advance.
  • Talk to your children and listen to what they have to say about their music and their poetry. Seek to understand what their modern point of view is before you dismiss it all as "hot ghetto messes."
  • Encourage your children's schools to teach boys home economics.
  • Have your children teach you their homework. Hearing it again will help them master it and fill in any blanks in their understanding of it.
  • Find a way to channel their hormonal urges towards constructive activity instead of having misunderstood sex before they are ready to be parents.
  • Find a way, please, to eliminate profanity from your first language.
  • Stop calling those people who aren't going to wait for you and move ahead--with or without you--a sellout.
  • Don't give anyone a reason to depict you as some inferior lifeform when you can make your own movies; own your own radio and tv outlets. Oh that's right, we already do that...or haven't you noticed because you don't make them do right by you! Clean the lens!!

and, on and on can fill in the rest.

When it comes to being Black, I want to know what it is you see when you see your people? Do you recognize underachievement when you see it and are willing to at least help to reverse it? Do you acknowledge Black success when you see it and hold it up as proof that it can be done? Or, do you want to continue the foggy path of indentured servitude by demanding that people stop being racist before you can move forward on your own--come what may?

There is a great deal of dismay about our history along with a great many things about which we can be proud. On a granular level, we are a remarkable people that has exhibited hope and determination when faced with far worse circumstances than we do today.

I am loathe to blame ourselves for what has been done to us but I am not above eliminating the excuses for not doing better going forward when we are often the majority in our cities. I cannot overlook the vast amounts of Black talent from which many many good things can be achieved if we only put that talent in the right place.

Sooner or later, we're going to have to do it on our own anyway...

In the meantime, gangs should be made obsolete; crime should be a booth-in-the-back-in-the-corner-in-the-dark afterthought when it comes to creating a wonderful place in which to live; your culture should not be an anchor around your collective necks preventing you from moving forward.

The Nation of Islam seeks no help from anyone but themselves. Many mega churches have created their own communities and can take care of their own now. The gated communities have made class the determinant for living there but don't blame them: your own red-lined community, of which you've done nothing to change, has created its own gate whether you want to believe it or not.

Don't let anyone else define who you are. What do you want others to see when they imagine you? What do you want to see when YOU imagine yourself? In fact, in light of all the problems we face, what are YOU going to do about it?

Again, my mind is flushed...until next time.