A few weeks ago, I posted the first part of this commentary where I provided excerpts from some research papers submitted by a group of students I once taught. As powerful as the dozen points listed where they did not fully address, what I believe is the real issue and that is the root cause is mental conditioning. I believe that this conditioning was handed down from America’s forefathers. Black men MUST step up and be the head of the family, which is a necessary component to the whole concept family. Moreover, he must be allowed to guide, direct, and lead. Therefore, lets step into “the now” and realize that we are (ourselves) huge contributors to the demise.
I think we can all agree that there is no one, 5, or 12 reasons but there is one more significant and should be at the top of the list. The dynamics between black men and women, full of anger and resentment, continue to weaken our families. Of course, the centuries of mistreatment has had a lethal impact on the health of our people, and it would take books and books to list everything that we’ve survived. I don’t need to retell the story; we all know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land, now the USA, for centuries as indentured servants, property, 2nd class “citizens”, the list goes on.
Generational transference of tactics from slavery that indirectly taught our children to suppress or minimize personality traits not conducive to survival in a society aimed at their destruction. Traits like compromise, trust, acceptance, conflict resolution, pride in accomplishment is communally absent. During slavery, we were taught thru examples of violence to downplay our children’s accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.
We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible but we are taught and perpetuate everyday in subtle and not so subtle ways that somehow slavery was not as horrible as the conditions we now face. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly, anywhere south of Canada caused a separation of unity within the family unit. Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people.
Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict with reality and what we are taught causes far reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not deal with as a country. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this nor do we focus on the true issues. We don’t fight for proper condolences, recognition or respect for those who died and fought for our rights to be “human” in America. It is obvious because we can see the impact and the symptoms as we point the collective finger at each other when the big pink elephant of our denial is in the room.
The end of this has to start with the complete acceptance of the facts and until we are all ready to look to each other and seek viable resolutions. The solution will continue to elude us. I attribute this to the extreme stresses of an oppressive social system that keeps large numbers of people in poverty or near-poverty conditions, and to the widespread ghetto mentality, which all stem from trying to cope with those oppressive living conditions.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you are one who believes black families are “broken”; implying that they weren’t before. We then have to first identify the time(s) when these families were “whole”. Was it during slavery, when a child could be ripped from its mother’s arms and sold to another owner in the same manner as dairy calves and their mothers? Was it during the era of lynching, when a successful business owner could be dragged from his home and hung from a tree, leaving behind a family? Perhaps it was soon after desegregation, when Blacks were no longer forced to support the local black-owned business in the community and could shop at the better, whiter stores, so long as it wasn’t their shop that went under with the exodus of patronage?
Segregation was really an impetus to support Black communities (schools, residences, economies, etc.). Once Blacks were no longer forced to support each other…we didn’t; and why should we? Blackness was/is considered other, ugly, and less than, something one did not willingly associate with. It’s no coincidence that the mantras “Black is beautiful” and “I’m Black and Proud” were coined soon segregation ended. We needed to be convinced that we were indeed beautiful and worthy of pride, and continue to be.
I also want to say, since the Civil Rights movement, the only tie left that connects black folks to each other are our collective experiences with present-day racism.
The very thing that plagues us is the one thing that we can all still identify with on some level. We don’t listen to each other long enough to determine or recognize what is necessary for us to survive. We base our perception on what our peers and mass media says as opposed to the issues concerning our collective salvation. In an ideal world, Blacks shouldn’t be forced to, or even need to “stick together” to make our families stable, loving, and satisfying. But we’ve been broken down, systematically, as an entire race, so I believe we have to build ourselves back up as an entire race.
At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because it is the color of our skin, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, it requires action from the person you see in the mirror to understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species.