As I sit and watch television and listen to talk radio, I hear black folks talk about members of our community who take us backward as a people. They speak of dope dealers, sagging pants or gold teeth as all part of the culture that we need to focus on obliterating in order to move forward. It seems that the black cause fights the essence of blackness all in the name of progression. How does pulling up pants or extracting gold teeth going to help us go anywhere and do anything? The older members of the black community call radio stations every day with solutions to improve the black condition ranging from the ridiculous and retarded to possible and feasible. “We need to take out dollars out of the white banks and support only black banks” or “We need to have classes on how to talk to white folks so we are not looked at as inferior” are among the “solutions” offered. Our seniors fail to realize that our assimilation to the American culture is a part of our problem.
The most popular go-to solution is to “get an education”. I absolutely hate this statement as it misrepresents what getting “educated” does to the “blackness” of a person. Educational institutions are designed to steal your imagination and encourage a certain way of skewed thinking. Your papers are graded in attempts to guide your mind away from your own original thoughts, solutions or representation of the world around you. The institutions deal passive-aggressively with the only race who were brought here under very different circumstances than all other immigrants.
I do agree that we, as a people, need education but I disagree with the method we have adopted. We need to be educated on the positive, uplifting truth about ourselves and accomplishments of black folks not just the same old depressing slave tales. We should not aim to be successful monetarily, but mentally and spiritually free from rejection and oppression. Free from self-hate, free from the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality, free to love and not fear each other, free to correct each other, free to live in neighborhoods with a high black population without the high crime rate. How can we learn these things in an institution that benefits from pushing historical black inferiority into the psyche of the precious, tender black minds of those trying to better themselves? How can we expect this educational system, who rejected integration for years, to teach us anything worth knowing about how to thrive (not just survive) their system? Their educational system teaches blacks to mentally submit to be enslaved and work in the fields (of “study”) of the modern day plantations.
We must take responsibility to teach our children to support, love and protect each other. If we are our own enemy, we will never reach the promise land. If the best elders the elders can do is hand us over to the system that has taken them for all they are worth, how can they expect their “get-an-education” solution to take any magical effect? There so many things that the elders in the black community don’t share with young people because of their own personal shame. The things some older blacks had to endure to survive angers them but they turn that anger on the black youth like it is their fault. Yes, we should be in a better place but I think that responsibility lies with black leadership (who is usually ancient themselves and part of the problem by fighting all the wrong battles). There is more finger pointing and condemning the black youth than encouraging and educating. These are angry elders who have done nothing their whole life but sit back with their hands out, working their fingers to the bone for almost nothing for years, hoping to squeak by one more year, all the while praising God for the minimum.
These are the people who have achieved nothing personally but somehow they feel they have all the answers for what black folks need to do to move forward. If you haven’t been a shining example of how something has worked for you keep your mouth shut when it comes time to condemn the black youth. If you have “made it” ask yourself, “What have I done to make sure someone else has this knowledge or opportunity?” If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It has nothing to do with wearing slippers in public, visible tattoos or nose piercings. If any of you non-productive black elders have a problem with someone just because of how they look, you may be the blacker pot calling the kettle black.