The segment made me reflect on a recent conversation that I had with a non-Black friend if mine who is very passionate about many of the issues affecting Black communities. He confessed to me that while he was out canvassing he passed three tall, shirtless Black guys who were chilling outside. When they’d passed them he said to the other members of his team (a White woman and a Black woman) that he had felt threatened by the guys and asked if that meant he as racist. The White woman was silent and the Black told him that he was racist and went on to rant about how Black people need to get jobs an go to school and — in my own words — get their shit together. He went on about how educated (she went to a prestigious majority White institution) and passionate (such is very active in protests and unions) this woman is and how much he respected her. Her opinion made him feel ashamed and guilty. He soaked up what she said and began to double back on sone of his own Stereotypical thoughts that he’d been dealing with. Her ignorance was validating his prejudice. That’s how we empower Bill O’Reillys to feel justified making the statements they make.
The five points Don gave to solve the crime and other issues if the Black community were:
1. Stop having children out of wedlock
2. Finish School
3. Respect where you live
4. Get rid of the word “nigger”
5. Pull up your pants
I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing the lack of addressing certain contexts and historical facts:
1. The degradation of the institution of marriage in America in general and the rising divorce rates (which for Black people would be significantly higher given that slavery destroyed the purity of the relationships between Black men and Black women.
2. The fact that in spite off the current threats to repeal Affirmative Action, it has yet to place Black students in an equal playing field with whites because the high schools in Black communities receive a significantly less quality education that would prepare them for college.
3. White flight and the following if “well-to-do” Blacks removed the economic power to give those communities a voice about their conditions and role models for professionalism.
4. The word “nigger” being used from in Black person to another has never inflicted the same psychological pain that it does in its historical context.
5. Sagging pants while unsightly to olde Black and conservatives does not a “thug” or criminal make. It just spells that to ignorant White people, older Blacks (who are out if touch with reality), and conservatives (who cling to the American Dream and individualism (pull yourself up by your own bootstraps delusions.
So Don’s ignorant assessment of the Black community and superficial analysis offer nothing to the resolution of the issues of the Black community. Which explains our lack of progress and internal anger and hatred.
Don played a clip from Bill O’Reilly and agreed with what must be the most prevalent comment made by non-Blacks in describing why the Black community has so many issues: degradation of the traditional family. It would take a whole post to talk about the offensive implications that makes against single parent families in every community; however, what is most ignorant about this thought is that it neglects to consider the contexts in which these people and families exist.
I am very much a supporter of the traditional family. I do believe that there are inherent values and influences that this type of home creates for children growing up. But I would never relate that to the struggle or crime that is found in Black communities. The only connection between the two are socioeconomic which is not always in the hands of the parents to control.
Parents do not create criminals. The socioeconomic a of this country — which is systemically set up against Black people is the major culprit for crime creation. When a life of discrimination impairs social mobility and renders impotent the opportunity for an individual to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, survival instincts kick in and there isn’t a creature on this planet that will not kill, steal, or fight to survive. Allow such disenfranchisement to be perpetuated through several generations and, ta-da, you have a generation of young Black kids who envy, idolize, and glamorize such behaviors. They do so because for as far back as they can remember it is one of the few ways that Black people ever actually have an undeniable opportunity to change their lives.
Again I’m not saying that the issues of Black families and the choices of young Black men are not things that the Black community needs to address. I’m saying that you can’t save people by treating them like enemy. We have center our attack and the source of our so,unions on the actual problem. That problem is not Black families and the choices of Black men, it is the society in which these families exist and the limits of the choices presented to Black men.
When Black people like Don Lemon offer their “success” stories as a recipe for economic advancement, professional development, and upward social mobility, they neglect to include the fact that their stories are based on specific turning points that occurred in their lives that allowed them to get where they are. Acknowledging that would inspire compassion for those who don’t have those significant influencers (two parent household, college educated mentors, quality high schools, etc.). Acknowledging those turn points also forces the individual giving the advice to not disassociate from their own community and, therefore, objectify the struggle by viewing it through a tinted lens at a distance. It makes that individual see themselves in that person. It makes them remember that they could have easily been that person. You can never judge the decisions a person has made without reviewing the choices they were given to choose from. Don Lemon sit your Uncle Tom ass down and shut up.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man