Message to the Black Community and the Black Leadership
I know I should not write when I am feeling the way I feel now (upset and disappointed)., The last thing that I want to do is convey the wrong message. SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THE BLACK COMMUNITY! I liken our condition to a house that is on fire (our community). The irony is that the hose, loaded with water (organized movement), is right next to the house but no one IS picking up the hose to put out the fire (organizing). I have said it before, and I will continue to say that unless we do something significant and do it quickly, Blacks will face extinction or being relegated to the permanent status of second-class citizenship. It is time for the Black community to push hard.
Brothers and sisters, what more do we need to see to convince us that the permanency of second-class citizenship for future Black generations is inevitable. Is the mass incarceration of Black men enough (with nearly 55% of the prison population is comprised of Black men when our population is only 4%)? Is the demise of the Black family enough (with nearly 80% of all Black families headed by a single parent, mother (this number was 20% in 1960)? Is it that nearly two-thirds of all Blacks families live at or near poverty, (this population is growing at an alarming rate with the reduction of the so-called Black middle class)? Is it the fact that Blacks own less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s wealth (this number hasn’t changed since the emancipation of Black people).
Without wealth and capital, there is no socio-economic fight. If you think these numbers are bad, think again. This is just the tip of the iceberg – the problems are systemic and are extreme in every area of life. These among other factors make for a negative trajectory for our children and future Black generations.
As bad as things look for the Black community, is even worse is that so many Black people have come to accept this reality. Where is the sense of urgency and why aren’t there more Black leaders demanding something that could/would address these issues? Where is the energy on a local level or a national level that most of us can relate to that addresses the social and economic issues facing the Black community? Where are the meeting places and meetings to discuss these issues along with possible strategies and solutions? Where is the movement and the centralized effort to fix these issues? Who are our leaders and what are they doing about these facts?
We live in a democracy. In a democracy, if you want to “win” you must have leadership. Every group is seeking to obtain more control, power and resources that are very limited and all of them have representation. In order for any idea or group to win above others, leadership is required. Who represents the Black community locally and/or nationally? Who speaks for the Black community when its time to negotiate on behalf of the Black community? The honest answer is that the Black community has no one leader. I compare our community to a body without a head because a multitude of leaders is like having no leader at all, especially if those individuals are not working together.
While we must engage the masses (they have a huge role to play in the movement), we must organize our leadership (leaders need leadership also). Let me be perfectly clear. Our leaders are the only ones with the potential of tackling the massive issues we face. This is no easy feat. It will require the coordination and organizing of our most accomplished. It will require our most learned and strongest. It will require our most successful leaders (i.e. business, civic, legal, medical, social, political, corporate, religious, etc.). You are a leader because you have been blessed. Yes, you contributed to your success but your future would look a lot different. We need to recognize the struggles of those that came before you. It is our belief that “when much is given, much is required.” Given the incredible plight of our community, who could help our community, if not you?
I am frustrated and dismayed by the lack of leadership and inactivity. Nothing is happening but we continue to make excuses for not organizing ourselves. There is no other option. If we want to be successful, we must put out the fire. Granted, this is some tough stuff and it is not going to be easy. We must do for ourselves what no one else will do. If we don’t get a handle on these social and economic issues, as they have developed over the past 60 years, these numbers will get worse. It will cause future generations to become more vulnerable. I say that we continue to make excuses because we are not doing what we need to do to save our children. We are not organizing. Our children don’t care about our status, egos, or our pedigree. Their destiny has already been determined unless we unite around a common cause – BLACK SURVIVAL.
Our leadership continues to fail us by not doing the very basic things needed, creating unity. We see division at every level. Our academia has not been able to utilize the knowledge acquired from some of the best universities in the world to advance the self-determination of Black people. Our religious leaders are divided into so many different sects that it is practically impossible to align to allow for “functional” unity. The on-going spiritual message from each spiritual center is self-serving and is geared at keeping and maintaining the status quo (dis-unity is quietly preached). Our politicians clearly have lost their way. They practice majority politics but forget that they are a minority. When you are a minority in politics, you consolidate your power by becoming a caucus. Although, in many cases the Black caucus is ineffective, unorganized, uninspired, or nonexistent. I have rarely seen the Black politicians pull their individual power together.
While we lack the individual and organizational capacity in many areas, as group we are stronger. We are greater than the sum of our parts. Our problem is that we do not get to see our collective power in action enough. I hate to break it to you, but no one person or organization is going to save Black people. The problems we face are so acute and severe they will require the highest level of centralizing, coordinating, and strategizing.
If you look at a house (or anything for that matter), each part: the design, bricks, wood, fixtures, paint, carpets, etc. and even the labor, has its own value. However, putting the parts together in one place at one time into the final product escalates the value exponentially. When it all comes together, it is referred to as synergy. We reference the greatness of our people but to be great is to have great leaders and to be great leaders. They must be able to lead by good action. THE BLACK COMMUNITY IS IN DANGER OF BECOMING A PERMANENT UNDERCLASS IN AMERICA AND SILENCE, EVEN BY DEFAULT, IS UNACCEPTABLE. By permanent, I mean that our children will have greater difficulty in the future of achieving the American dream (this seems almost impossible because it is not as if our children are doing better). My disappointment lies in the fact that the organization of Black leadership is not happening and we must ask the question, why?
A few generations of this behavior has created some very bad habits and behaviors that we must overcome. Yes, we have a massive oppressor that has an agenda to enslave the Black community. However, the biggest threat to the future of the Black community is ourselves, mainly the lack of leadership and we’ve come to be extremely good at doubting ourselves. We make excuse after excuse for not working with each other. We are believing and thinking that we are more than what we are (all that and a bag of chips). We are working against each other by backbiting and speaking ill of each other. We are elated and somewhat happy when one of our brothers or sisters has fallen from a high position. We have our infatuation with symbolism and ceremony over substance and sustainability. We have our reactionary responses versus proactive approaches; tearing something down versus building something up; walks, vigils, marches, but no follow up; and were quick to disavow ourselves from our past and the hurt that is associated with the enslavement of our people (as long as we do not acknowledge the pain and trauma that America has caused us, we can never heal). WE’VE BEEN BRAINWASHED AND PROGRAMMED BY OUR OPPRESSOR AND TODAY THAT PROGRAMMING HAS US DOING ALL WE CAN NOT TO WORK TOGETHER.
The Black community has been seriously harmed by the Black experience in America. How else can you explain our circumstances? If the Black community is not suffering from the legacy of slavery, then one must believe that Black inferiority is real (which I don’t believe). We were snatched and robbed from our motherland by extreme force carted here like cargo under the most vicious and inhumane conditions. We were placed into the most violent levels of chattel slavery for nearly 300 years and during this same period, we were systemically stripped of nearly every aspect of our culture, history, language and knowledge of self. Our ancestors suffered from the worst human conditions only to have the leaders of this current generation suffering from a severe case of amnesia, forgetting about all of the horrible things that have happened to the Black man in America. Who will speak for our ancestors? ] They can’t speak anymore. What would our great leaders of the past do today? What would the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm Shabazz, Marcus Garvey and many others be doing today? Would they be silent (WE HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED TO THINK THIS ISN’T IMPORTANT)?
Our conditions demand that you get out of your comfort zone and make your voice heard. We must end our self-imposed boycott and join the fight. We can’t/won’t EVER be able to remove the distrust we harbor until we internally fight against the “Catch 22” and get ourselves to the table. Too many of us are sitting on the fence waiting to see what happens. In my humble opinion, there are three things that we must recognize if we are to have a shot at changing our conditions: 1) it is going to take a significant, high level of unity amongst Black people, especially our leaders; 2) our progress will only come when we organize our resources, capacities, and people; and 3) we will have to earn the success that we envision. No one will give us what we need and what we deserve. We MUST DO THE WORK – PROGRESS THRU ORGANIZATION.
What the Black community needs more than anything is UNITY. Not the unity that is some superficial description where all Black people are all doing the same thing at the same time – that’s unrealistic.
The unity that I’m referencing is a functional unity. This is a functional unity, where representatives (leadership) from all segments of the community are working together around a common and collective agenda. A. Phillip Randolph stated: “At the banquet table of nature, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take and you keep what you can hold. If you can’t take anything, you won’t get anything, and if you can’t hold anything, you won’t keep anything. And you can’t take anything without organization.”
Restated, “Nobody is going to give us anything – we must take it; we must organize ourselves.” IT IS TIME TO UNITE AND IT IS TIME TO PUSH HARD.