Monday, June 25, 2007

Black People Just Don’t Get It

It is too bad some black people just don’t get it. Hat Tip Brother Peace Maker for highlighting some of the same issues about New Orleans which I also recently attempted to point out on the afrospear blog. Candidly, I'm starting to wonder about the black middle class bloggers, who talk "big game" about poverty, crime, health crisis, teen pregnancy, dropouts, AIDS, voting rights, and other issues impacting African American communities. I seriously wonder if some of these elitist (black middle class bloggers) actually work, volunteer or mentor with the people they talk about. As someone who has been involved with community development programs for over 30 years, I know that community change does not only happen with talking (blogging), it happens through smart work with residents and other community stakeholders in local communities. Candidly, it's been my experience that the black middle class (generally) have for generations just given lip service to the poor, just like the rest of America. I'm reminded that the black middle class moved out of core urban areas in the late 60's, 70's and 80's, allowing the black poor to fetch for themselves, creating a brain drain. Now, black middle class bloggers, who many times are children of the baby boomer generation, sit high and mighty, perched in their suburban and or gentrified communities, intellectualizing about how to help the poor. Go figure! I guess that is why I agree with Brother Peace, yet I have to place a qualified some "elitist" middle class bloggers don’t get it. But hey, on this issue I could be damn right. Am I wrong?


by Brother Peace Maker

Black People Just Don’t Get It

Like the average black Joe I read what happened to Shaquanda Cotton with disgust and appall. A 15 year old African girl gets sentenced to serve a maximum of seven years in juvenile prison for shoving a 58 year old hall monitor at her high school in Paris, Texas. It should be obvious to anyone with a fraction of a brain that the injustice of the United States judicial system against its citizens of African descent knows no shame or boundary. However, this is the tip of an iceberg that runs throughout America.

Blacks are regularly made examples of injustice, prejudice, exclusion, incompetence, omission, exception, deception, rejection, condemnation, revulsion, abhorrence, stereotypes, subjugation, etc. The list never stops. Every goddamn day that passes we find more examples of America’s detest for blacks. If we listed each and every injustice we as a people have suffered on post-it notes and stacked them all together the resulting column would reach beyond the sun and back. There isn’t time to address each and every transgression The list is simply way too long.

If hurricane Katrina taught the African American community anything it is that our collective voice isn’t strong enough to stop the injustice. Days prior to the hurricane hitting New Orleans the weather forecasts had predicted the potential strike. Yet the federal government claimed they knew nothing about it. We stood by as our federal government did nothing to prepare for the cataclysm. Everyone was outraged. There were calls for investigations. There were rallies to help the victims. New Orleans was the focus of the whole world’s attention. And nothing happened.

The mother of the president of the United States pays a visit to the Houston Astrodome to draw attention and support to the people victimized by the storm. What did she have to say about the plight of the people? “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

Shortly thereafter Robert Davis, a 64 year old black man who was in New Orleans to check on his family’s property, was assaulted by police officers in an altercation initiated by his request for information. The man was beaten unmercifully by a number of local cops and federal agent. The police tried to hide their gaffe by alleging that Mr. Davis, a school teacher, was drunk and disorderly. As days passed attention on the fate of Mr. Davis’ case was swept under the AP News rug. And the black community did nothing. More HERE


The Angry Independent said...

Although I share some of the writers frustrations, I can't agree with all of the comments.

I don't agree that so-called "Black America" did nothing after each of the incidents that he listed. The comments seem to ignore the hard work of community activists across the country. Just because he didn't see all of the work...doesn't mean that nothing happened. There WERE protests and media attention was brought to those incidents by community activists and prominent African Americans. Often bringing national attention to an issue is the best thing (and often the only practical thing) that can be done.

Many of these incidents are being (or have been) dealt with in the courts by hard working attorneys, many of whom are African American.
These cases have re-written law enforcement training across the country. The Rodney King case is so powerful that it is a benchmark in criminal justice history books. Modern Law Enforcement is broken down into pre-Rodney King and Post Rodney King.... illustrating the huge impact of the case. The King case and others are slowly changing law enforcement. It's hard for people to see it....because we hear about more cases.... but this is largely because of cable news...and the fact that everyone has a camera we see every case that remotely looks like a potential Rodney King. This is also a time when we are seeing a general rise in violence against police are constantly on edge. But the point is... without these cases, the problem would be far worse... So the work of the activists and the attorneys for the families in these cases are making a difference, even if you may not be able to see those differences. As bad as the news may seem.... Police officers & departments are not as aggressive as they were 10+ years ago... trust me.... It used to be worse. The culture has changed quite a bit. For example... the increasing trend of putting cameras & mics in police an offshoot of Rodney King and other cases.

I agree that the "Black Community" should do more... But my idea of more is that Black folks need to do more to take responsibility for their own communities. The writer tries to ignore the responsibility of Black folks for the conditions in their neighborhoods, their schools, poor education, etc...and he seems to want to blame the white man. The white boogeyman argument only goes so far here.

And I also don't agree with the idea that every Black person who becomes successful is a "House Negro"... (automatically) simply because they are doing well...and simply because they wanted to do better for themselves. That doesn't cut it with me. Now if they openly turn up their noses to other people... are not involved in any sort of social uplift...whether through charity or volunteering, giving a helping hand to people....THEN MAYBE they can get that kind of criticism... only if it's justified. I personally think the whole "House Negro" thing can sometimes become childish and overplayed (like a horrible R&B song on the radio these days). This is another thing in the so-called Black community (another cancer really) that I would like to see die.

It reminds me of the times in school when I was called "Uncle Tom" or told that I was not really Black....or that I was acting white simply because I tried to study and turn in my work like I was supposed to. Of course this taunting came from other Black kids. The taunting I received from Black kids was worse than the racism that I received from the white kids and a few white teachers. What the writer is almost like the adult version of the same game.

However, I DO agree with AAPP who stated that many Middle Class... or wealthy African Americans seem to ignore some of the things that are going on... but that's not in every case.

This is why I say, it's becoming more of a Class struggle than a race struggle. I have believed this for a long time.

The Angry Independent said...


Thank you for your work in the community AAPP!!! We need more like yourself.

As I mentioned... we are in a Class struggle. And there has been another form of White flight going on... We can call it green flight or Black flight.... where Blacks leave modest communities once they reach a certain financial level. I don't know if leaving is as big of a problem as not coming back to lift others up.

But with crime as bad as it is today (in urban communities) it's almost a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for many people.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]actually work, volunteer or mentor with the people they talk about[/quote]

I do:

* Volunteer - Doing a reading program at the Y this summer

* Donate money

* Make sure I interact with the young people around the neighborhood

With that said let me ask you - Clearly you have a long list of expectations that you have for the "Black Middle Class"......could you tell us exactly what your expectations are of the so called "Black Poor"? Or is the handicap that you place upon them so much that an otherwise healthy individual is too vulnerable for to bear any expectation that they be the primary contributor to their own salvation?

It is clear to me that with all of the current activities that are going on which attempt to transfer civics upon those who have "less than" that absent a request that they live up to a certain standard and that outsiders (you and I) be willing to allow some people to live the standard of living that their actions beget for them.

My challenge to you is to not tell me what you do in support of the "Black Poor" but to tell me what you expect out of them and what is the cost for them not heeding your Racial Obligations?

When this is challenge is addressed by our people - we will truly be "Progressives".

brotherpeacemaker said...

Boogeyman: a legendary spiritual anomaly or aberration rooted in irrational fear or superstition.

White boogeyman? Hmmm...


brotherpeacemaker said...

The concept of "I got mine...Good luck getting yours" is not just an individual phenomenon. It's a community phenomenon as well. "We got ours...Good luck getting yours with our foot on your neck" is a message from the white community to the black community.

My article doesn't absolve the black community of anything. In fact, if anything, the article is written in the spirit of, "quit waiting for white people to accept you as an equal. It's not going to happen. We are never going to be an equal in this environment." I wish I had done a better job of making that point. I will do a better job next time.


The Angry Independent said...

"Boogeyman: a legendary spiritual anomaly or aberration rooted in irrational fear or superstition.

White boogeyman? Hmmm..."

You suggested in your article that the Black condition should be blamed on The Man (White America) and at the same time, you seemed to let Black folks off the hook a little. This blaming the white man for all of the ills in Black America has become almost irrational. "The Man" is a convenient excuse used when Black folks don't want to take responsibility. Although "The Man" is sometimes a factor... some folks take it too far. It's no longer the main factor IMO. Let's hold Black America more accountable... especially so-called Black leaders.

That's all I was trying to get across.

But I do share your frustration with the masses who seem to be focused on the wrong things (like superficial entertainment figures... The next BET program or the next reality show), instead of focused on the vital issues facing us all.

Somewhere along the line... "Black" and "Community" divorced and went their separate ways.

The sense of community has faded. There used to be an innate sense of responsibility within each person (especially Black folks) to the wider group.

Now we seem to be in an era of every man for himself.... of course there are exceptions. But the rule today seems to be "I got Mine... Good luck getting yours".

african american political pundit said...

Clearly you have a long list of expectations that you have for the "Black Middle Class"......could you tell us exactly what your expectations are of the so called "Black Poor"?

Constructive Feedback,

We should all have high expectations within our communities. If we don't who will? We should all develop what I would term "healthy community standards."

I had high expectations like many in black communities that the black poor, who were on public assistance as an example would go from welfare (TANF) to work - Self sufficiency.

Now many have gone from welfare to work, and found that they are no better off than they were economically. They are still part of the "working poor." Many have had their self esteem lifted, to be dropped back down because they cannot make a living wage. Hundreds of thousand of black folks from around America made that investment in themselves.


My challenge to you is to not tell me what you do in support of the "Black Poor" but to tell me what you expect out of them and what is the cost for them not heeding your Racial Obligations?


Great question, I would hope that the Black "economically" poor would afford themselves to the many self-sufficiency programs available at the local, city, state, and federal levels. Let it be youth programs for the challenged and the gifted, charter schools, academic enrichment programs, work force development programs, health and nutrition programs, joining faith based programs, homeownership assistance, joining PTA's, enagaging their kids in boys club and other activities, including voluteering with social service agencies, and cleaning up ones own community. I could go on and on.

I concur, when this is challenge is addressed by "all of our people" - we will truly be "Progressives".

BLOG Editor/Publisher said...

Angry Independent, Thanks for your comments. this discussion serves as more proof that we have many challenges and a significant gap between the black middle class and the poor.

Denise said...

I volunteer my time feeding the homeless. I''m proud to say I have stepped up for "the Struggle" in ways I will never get credit for. LOL It's all good.

But I could do more because there is that much work to do.

bhumika said...

where is Al Sharpton on Shaquanda's case..why isn't he stepping up for this girl who is just 16 and now will have to spend 7 years behind bars..she doesn't deserve it and everyone knows where are the leaders of african american community..? or are they interested only in high profile cases..??

here is Sharpton standing up for the WIlson caseAFTER it received national attention

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