Black Leaders Must Come Together
In spite of the conditions that we face (and there are many), Black Americans are the greatest people in modern history. Why? Because Black people have been through so much and continue to face threats directed only for them (the Black man is targeted). Yet, the black man has not only survived, but continues to contribute so much to the world. The Black community is nothing short of a modern day miracle. We are the descendants of the greatest survivors in the history of man. We have experienced the worst forms of cruelty, brutality, and wickedness sanctioned by White supremacists with over 300 years of chattel slavery. In order to create an effective and productive slavery institution, the White supremacist had to invoke a significant level of fear into the Black psyche (breaking the slave) and destroy the positive self-image of Black people (making the slave). Evidence of these factors remains today.
IN SPITE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED OR WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US – BLACK LEADERS MUST COME TOGETHER
It is absolutely essential that Black leaders come together. The million-dollar question: Why has this been so difficult? How many examples do we need? Let’s face it, if the Black leaders don’t assume responsibility to organize, defend, and most importantly, to advance the agenda of the Black community, who else will do it? The Black leaders are the most knowledgeable about our issues and the systems that cripple us. Shouting, marching, and hollering are just not good enough to make a change. We need content specialists in every area to develop “tactical” and “practical” solutions.
Given the abnormity and persistence of our conditions, the Black leadership should come together if only from a survival perspective. In spite of this, however, this is yet to happen. Why? I believe every Black man, woman and child born in America has been damaged and that damage shows up in many different ways. For the educated Black community, it might look different from those who are under-educated; however, the damaged exists. I believe a fear factor creeps into the psyche of Black leaders, inhibiting and preventing him/her from assuming the responsibility. MANY BLACK LEADERS HAVE A PHOBIA (FEAR) OF BECOMING INDEPENDENT.
The Black community has lived in a state of fear for nearly 400 years. Today, there is no maniacal slave master invoking the level of horror our ancestors experienced 24/7/365 for nearly 300 years. There are no hooded racist KKK government officials who snatched our fathers out their beds and hung them up on a tree while burning their bodies to a crisp. There is no longer an “orchestrated” environment and culture for the falsification of charges, which condemned tens of thousands of our fathers to long-term prison sentences, or the historically dysfunctional relationship between the Black community and the police that resulted in intimidation and confrontations. This practice, however, has been replaced with “racial profiling,” not to mention the subversive and lethal actions taken against Blacks within the business and corporate world where any actions that appear to go against the status quo was met with hostile and effective dismissals.
I have written extensively about the evolution of the American institution of slavery. During this period, the purpose of the slave-owners was to break the spirits of their captives and get them to accept and expect the inhumane actions perpetrated against them – to invoke a high level of sustained fear. Our people were exposed to some of the cruelest acts ever witnessed by humanity. One such example, and there are many, was when the slave-owner would take one of our pregnant mothers and, in front everyone, take a knife and open up her abdomen and rip out the unborn child and throw it to the ground and both the mother and unborn child would die. These barbaric acts were perpetrated against our community on a daily basis and only escalated over time. Fear of the white man became engrained in our DNA.
Black people have been programmed against being be too aggressive (leadership) and at no time to think they could rise above their station as subservient slaves. The Black community was programmed to maintain a permanent place below Whites. In many instances, some Blacks are given approval from America until they begin to think and act independently. Then, there is a backlash. Unknowingly, the Black leaders suffer from this psychological, yet contrived fear. Fear to organize; fear to work together; and fear to do for self. It is our belief that, while we all have been damaged,there are some of us who aren’t as damaged and are not fearful of securing White America’s approval at the expense of its own Black people.
The Black leaders must come together but to do this, they must understand why this is not happening. Inherent fear and the massive campaign to destroy any positive image of Black people are two keys to our paralysis. I know that many, especially our most learned, have dismissed our past as irrelevant with no bearing on today. That is the root of the problem. The efforts made by the slave-owners to make a slave versus breaking a slave are just as effective now as when chattel slavery existed. I remember reading about an experiment where they would entice mice with the best yellow cheese only to remove the cheese every time the mice would get close to it. After this happened a number of times with the mice never tasting the cheese, the mice ultimately stopped going for the cheese (it was an orchestrated illusion). Our community has become like the mice; we no longer are fighting for our independence, and I believe mainly because too many of us have bought into the idea of Black inferiority.
The second 150 years of slavery were much different. The level of brutality and maniacal treatment continued against our ancestors, but now a deliberate physiological warfare was unleashed. Willie Lynch, a slave owner from the West Indies, came to Virginia to instruct the American slave-owners about what they were doing wrong with regard to trying to “break” their slaves. He stated, “I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree a couple of miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires, and your animals are killed. Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems; however, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly, it will control the slaves for at least 300 hundred years. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your over-seer can use it.”
The strategy instructed by Willie Lynch was to outline the slave’s differences at every level to create fear, distrust, and envy. Every aspect of Black leadership and independence was suppressed and ultimately perpetuated by the slave (Blacks did the dirty work for the slave-owners). This was done by associating everything Black to inferior, impendent, and the impossibility of being independent. I asked you – what is your perception of Black people and how much of this perception has been passed down from one generation to the next? How many negative statements have we heard from our parents about the limitations of Black people? What could Blacks do and what couldn’t they do? How much distrust of Black people have we inherited? How often have we been told that we are nothing and will never be anything? Much of this is embodied in the word “NIGGER.” With just a little investigation, you will find, as I did, that these negative stereotypes have been with us dating back to slavery and have pervaded public opinion and been propagated by the media, religion, language, education, and nearly every other American institution. The concept of Black inferiority is alive and strong and permeates every aspect of American life.
Carter Woodson once said “To handicap a person for life, you teach him that his Black skin is a curse and his struggle to change his condition is hopeless – it’s the worst form of lynching.” Today, even our most accomplished leaders believe that nothing can be done and that all is hopeless. Why is this attitude so prevalent? The answer is many of our most accomplished Black leaders have been fooled by the shine and illusion of America’s gifts, such as integrated neighborhoods, schools, private clubs, and some previously all white intuitions and workplaces. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for the majority of Black people. The reality is Black people suffer more than any other group in America. In fact, we have no peers. Yet, our Black leadership has does not recognized this. Black leaders must come together if we are to have any chance of achieving, like all other groups in America, independence. As it stands now, the Black community not only cannot advance its own agenda, but there is no real and stated agenda to advance.
The psychological and emotional trauma continues to burden the Black community, but nothing more severely than the economic disparity that we suffer from. We have been in an economic race that began nearly 400 years ago, and the Black community has been forcibly restricted from participating. Yet, we are judged as if we have been in the race from the beginning. This unequal economic race has produced a level of wealth disparity that continues to cripple the Black community. Since our emancipation in 1863, when Blacks owned one-half of one percent of the nation’s wealth, we have continued to lose ground. Today, with 100 percent freedom, Blacks still only own one-half of one-percent of the nation’s nearly $150 trillion dollar economy. Real freedom in America is economic freedom and that has yet to be accomplished within the Black community. We rank dead last in every economic category, which is reasonable given how late we got into the race that is still not an even playing field.
The most troubling issue Black people face is both Blacks and Whites have lost track of the fact of that the race has never been fair, and carry on as if it has, when nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that we rank last economically is under question as if Black people are inept and inferior not taking into consideration the massive inequities that continue to plaque us. While America was raping the Black community and stealing trillions of dollars in free slave labor for over 300 years, America became the biggest and strongest economy the world has ever seen, with capital estimated at nearly $150 trillion dollars of which the Black community owns less than one percent. This did not happen today or yesterday. This has been in the making for hundreds of years with nearly 80 percent inherited from one generation to the other. Today, America enjoys a tremendous economic privilege and while the current generation cannot be accused of the original crime of “theft,” they can definitely be accused of being “in receipt of stolen property.”
The stolen property represents the Black man’s equity and capital and without it, we continue to suffer at every level indicative of the woeful economic position we hold (i.e. education attainment, businesses growth and development, community investment, institution endowments, inheritance, capital, wealth, etc.). As a direct result of being totally economically dependent (unequal economic race), our community now suffers from a massive economic trade deficit with the value of the community’s imports (i.e. purchase of goods, products and services, outside of the community you reside) exceeding the value of its exports (i.e. investment, jobs, business growth, etc.). This is not an emotional fix. This is an economic issue that requires remediation.
The state of the Black community is extremely weak both socially and economically, which has resulted from a number of adverse conditions, none greater than nearly 300 years of chattel slavery and interruption after interruption that keeps us on our heels and in a very weak defensive position. Our community will not be healed until we first understanding the nature of our fight while adopting strategies designed to address real issues through the aggregation of our very limited resources (i.e. human, financial, influence, political, etc.) to defend and advance our agenda.
The Black community has a new enemy. It is a new fight and it requires a new approach. Working together and adopting the mindset of “do for self” is the only way we will have a shot at correcting our situation. No one is going to save our community if we don’t and no one can undertake these issues by themselves. We need all hands on deck. Today, the biggest enemy facing the Black community is economic disparity, but we can prevail if we work together. We should never underestimate our abilities. As I stated in the beginning, we are a “miracle” group of people and we have the ability to rise to the challenge.
Adopting the “Do for Self” approach takes away any excuses for not doing anything or not doing our best. It is no longer, what they are doing to us; it is what we are not doing. What we are not doing is working together. We must stop acting as if our issues will miraculously improve or go away without us doing the work. This is insane. It will take hundreds of years to correct our issues, but they will only worsen if we don’t begin to assume responsibility NOW. The resources due to our community will never come without a fight, without a struggle. This is no evidence the American government will ever make reparations for what it has done to our community. So what do we do? We will have to take what we are owed by competing on a yet-unleveled playing field and this will never happen without optimal organization (working together).
IN SPITE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED OR WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US – BLACK LEADERS MUST COME TOGETHER.