I have tried my utmost to avoid addressing the same issue in consecutive columns–that’s my only defense against any tendency to be tedious and predictable.
However, a reader recently came up to me and said, “Sister, I got to give you props–you really stuck it to them last week.”
As soon as the words rolled off his tongue, I knew that I was going to have to clarify my message. I lacked the time at that moment to stand there in front of the store and explain to the gentleman that my article was not against a specific set of people, but that I wanted to make sure that he understood the distinction between hating a philosophy and hating a people. So I asked that he be sure to pick up the next edition.
So, as promised, here I go good brother, and I sincerely hope that I have been pellucid enough in bringing home the point.
Permit me at this juncture to preface my statements regarding our community by assuring all readers that I am neither cynical, radical, nor an ideologue, as ideologues tend to give ideology priority over truth.
Now, when truth comes into conflict with their ideology, then they shape and bend the truth into a more comfortable fit with their delusion of reality. Let it stand for the record that I believe in following truth wherever it leads and regardless of whose ox it gores. There are many folks who may dislike what I am about to say about the community; they may even experience difficulty in digesting it since there are many oxen that need to be gored. Nevertheless, the truth must be told and faced. In spite of the self-deception we love to embrace regarding ourselves as Blacks or Afro-Canadians, we are a highly dysfunctional people who were forged from a grossly dysfunctional past.
Recently, I was a guest at an information session sponsored by a local organization with an over-riding mission to coalesce the English- and French-speaking sectors of the Black community to support development of businesses, encourage youth and strengthen families. With rapt attention I listened to the founder highlight developments thus far and the various speakers outline the intended path to progress, followed by a membership call. Talking with some attendees during and even after the session, I immediately arrived at the conclusion that there are two Black communities, a discovery that obviously eluded the presenters. Yes, this fact may not be apparent to the naked eye, the wary onlooker, or the lesser informed, but nonetheless does not rule out its existence.
There is one community that is made up of individuals that can be called strivers, who utilize the adversity inherent in the Black experience as an educational tool to make them more rather than less. These are the individuals that have grasped the concept that it is through the effort of overcoming adversity that growth takes place. Thus, they possess the insight to understand that having to deal with overt and covert racism on an ongoing basis provides them with an opportunity to evolve, develop an intellectual muscularity to become masters over their oppressors.
Then there’s the other Black community made up of what I term slackers—people who refuse to grow and invest in themselves. These are the individuals who find it more convenient to use adversity as an excuse for failure than to see it for the challenge it represents. These are the very same individuals who claim that white supremacy is keeping us from moving forward. Truth be told, if these individuals are allowing the mainstream culture to hold them down, then the racists are right – they are inferior, but it is wrong to attribute it to race.
The inferiority is a matter of individual character and has absolutely nothing to do with race. Frederick Douglas, the Black American historian, stated that the lesson learned from human experience is that the man who will get up will be helped up, and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down. There can be no independence without a large share of self-dependence, and this virtue cannot be bestowed. It must be developed from within.
Currently, our challenge is to fight as hard as we can against the disunity, a deep level of hopelessness, fear, and mistrust that has collectively paralyzed a part of our community.
Pause for a brief moment, and think about it. Every culture is made up of strivers and slackers, and you do not have to be rich to be a striver.
Our failure to openly, truthfully and clearly address the reality of our situation is killing us. We are not even allowed to hint that anybody in the Black community may not be taking care of business, as this is considered politically incorrect. There are far too many ideologues among us who see it as an ideological sin to look at the Black situation objectively, therein lies the problem.
Incidentally, the session started with a short film emphasizing the fact that Black folks rarely pass on assets to their children, only poverty, and thus a generation is left having always to start from scratch. Sad to say, this is a [true] reality.
Remember that you are what you do, not what you say you’ll do, because the Black community does not own and control retail establishments in their own community, as a consequence they… we are unable to stabilize their community. For every evening at the close of business the substantial citizen closes his door, leaves that community and goes to another community to live. With him goes the wealth. A form of predatory economics is destroying Black people, and we must begin to pursue cooperative economics, in which we control our communities if we are to succeed.
Another catchy non-truism that in my opinion has served to hold the community back goes something like this: “You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” On the surface this may sound like the most profound kind of wisdom, but my only objection to it–besides the fact that it is not tru–is the fact that it is generally used as a refuge for people who are not in the least interested in going anywhere in the first place. Many Black people tend to use this statement as an excuse to wallow in the past, and it also serves to distract our young people from keeping their eye on the ball.
Think again, how much knowledge of abuse is required before we are ready to move forward? When is it time to say, ok, enough is enough, let us get the show on the road? Granted, it is always good to know your history, in fact all knowledge is good knowledge. However, you cannot allow yourself to live there. We are still equally unequal, with segregation mistaken for integration, and confrontation for conversation.
Blacks are hustling and hurtling backwards because far too many of us treat other Blacks condignly, and with the same disdain, as do some Whites simply based on the acquisition of things.
Internalizing self-hatred is not a recipe for healthy community development. Group Economics is the key to the destiny of Black people. This may be easier said than done.
True success or advancement would only be achieved when we become voiced trackers of the slackers and the strivers go on to become lifers. Then and only then would we have gone ‘One Full Circle’ in a positive direction.
Aleuta— The struggle continues.