Editorial: Can a Black man or Woman get a Break…. from other Black men and women?
I’ve worked in the media industry for almost 30 years but I’ve been black all my life. If there is one thing I’ve learned over and over again it is in the black community, we like to keep very important and relevant issues neatly tucked away in the “Never-discuss” category. This includes: Mental Illness, homelessness, Gays and Lesbians, Slavery, Black on Black crime, Education, Our History, The multitude of Fatherless Homes, Rape, Drugs, Child Molestation, HIV, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, College, Prison Sentences, Savings, Investing, Check-ups and the Future…(whew!!!!) and the list goes on and on and on and on. The only time we openly discussed the crack epidemic was when a comedian was making fun of it and we were laughing at it or we were accusing white people of being responsible for it. There were many black families that didn’t see the humor of crack because they had to deal with it head-on and we made them invisible because we like to feel good and don’t nobody want to hear about your grief. We don’t like pain and I get that but who does? We like to function and not think about the atrocities that have plagued our community over the decades but do we also ignore the responsiblity that we have to accept for the part that we play in it? All of these ills have been significant to the black community but we don’t want to discuss it and if we don’t discuss it how can we ever do anything about it? Perhaps we can just blame white people?
Without question this is a learned behavior from our past generations who didn’t want to ruffle any white feathers and felt that as long as we had a job and a roof over our heads we were successful. I am sure your parents or even grandparents have said things like “I was a good parent, I kept food on the table” and while that is NOT great parenting (it’s only an aspect of PARENTING and why shouldn’t your damn kids expect to eat?) in this country that was STILL an achievement because we were not given the opportunities to put food on the table because of racism during past generations. I get that too. We were taught by our parents, grandparents and great grandparents not to complain and just shut up but somehow racism was not included in that group of “Never-discuss” topics and we will scream racism from the mountaintop or the top of the local convenience store or mama-n-nems house every chance we get. I would never discredit the extremely high price blacks have had to pay in this country over many decades to earn a decent living, have freedom and be respected as damn…. humans…. but will the day EVER come when we take a long hard look and start having discussions about how WE contribute to our OWN demise as an ENTIRE community in this country? Why is that so off-limits? We will write off negative behavior from our own culture tsk and shake our heads and last but not least, accuse the white media of being racist for just reporting it because they disrespected our desire and comfort in disconnecting and ignoring the ills of our own community? We will talk about “Niggas,” “Ratchet Ghetto hos,” “Look at her hair,” “I think he’s gay” and “That bitch is crazy” amongst each other but let those same people be the victims of racism. They could be standing there with a bad weave, no teeth, crippled, on public assistance, living with their mother, 15 baby daddies, a criminal history, utilities in everybody’s name but their own but as long as they are the victims of racism we will take out our phones to record the racist act, and NOT laugh or scream “World Star” but actually verbally PROTEST, hold hands, rally, march, holla, scream do a line dance and sing gospel music at the perceived injustices. Why is that? I am not a conservative or a republican and I LOVE being black but damn…Are we EVER responsible for ANYTHING?
There are three things I have come to understand from my experiences in dealing with black people: Disconnection, Complaining and Harsh Judgement. This certainly is attributed to our past isolation in this country because it was how we were treated but what about today? Action often only takes place when racism is involved. I had a debate with black FaceBook friends the other day on the difference between complaining and speaking about injustices. They were saying there is a difference and I was saying not without action. We all KNOW what the problems are in our community but we don’t often want to discuss them OR do anything about them as if some magic black wizard is supposed to descend down to earth and wave his magic wand to make our problems go away. You will hear a black person analyze the mitochondrial DNA out of a situation and in the process point the finger at someone else (mostly white people and rich black people) to resolve it as if OUR problems are THEIRS to fix? We will say things like: “They need to”, “Why doesn’t he…”, “She needs to take some of her money and…” I can’t recall a conversation where I’ve heard “I volunteer for…” “We take food to..”, “I mentor young black…. ” or “I started my own successful business to…” Observations, complaints and talking are all the same thing unless action follows.
Looking online at many other sites, we are presenting ourselves in a way in much greater detail to the very racial stereotypes that we get mad at white people for running the nightly news stories on. In addition, whenever a black person does something positive or even phenomenal they are viciously attacked by us like Gabby Douglas at the Olympics in 2012. Allow me to say when we equate nappy hair to be paramount to winning gold medals in the Olympics we are in DIRE need of community intervention. Now, don’t get mad if she marries a white man. My question to you and perhaps you have a better answer than I do… how can we present ourselves on video as we do online on so many sites like this and expect others to respect us? When a white person commits a heinous crime, white people IMMEDIATELY verbally disconnect themselves from that person and single them out but when someone from our race does the same thing, we remain silent which allows the perception that we are ALL like that to marinade.
About a year ago singer Migel made a statement and black folks went haywire. He stated Black people are so judgmental. He hit the nail square on the head. That is the one thing that we will come together on in an instant.. the judgement of another black person, it happens everyday in the black community in every Beauty Salon, Barbershop, high school, Wal-Mart store any and everyplace we are there is certainly going to be judgement. We will talk about, laugh at and criticize each other rarely thinking that when are backs are turned we are next. Who are we surrounding ourselves with and why? Is THAT what is stunting our growth?
My course of study is mental health and I pursuing it because it is almost always ignored in our community and I have seen it in our community in every aspect of black life. It certainly does exist from our churches to those who are incarcerated. I once read a study that said children who are not the biological child of a step parent are much more likely to be abused if the biological parent is not in the child’s life. That makes perfect sense. What we often fail to realize is that predators of all types go after children who are most often not loved or cared for. Could that study also apply to our community? Have we been so preoccupied with racism that we have failed to see that we may actually dare I say… play a part in it by not showing up? When you water a plant and care for it, it grows. The rule for the person and the plant also applies to the community…The plant won’t grow if you simply criticize it and judge it. How can we expect others to love us if we don’t love ourselves?
The recent Saturday Night Live controversy involving a skit where a Leslie Jones sparked outrage from the black community is another example of us complaining but didn’t we ASK for it? Perhaps we didn’t ask for the slave references but we did ask Lorne Micheals for some diversity on Saturday Night Live and we got it now we want to tell him how to use it? Why would any white producer want to hire black people after an example like this? Michaels could have continued just the way the show was, with no black women, no black writers and the same cast he’s been using but he opened the door and now we want to complain about the hinges? Where is our network and where are our comedy shows and what are we doing to create our own opportunities?