LET MY PEOPLE GO!
That is a battle-cry that has inspired many oppressed peoples to end slavery.
Liberating the oppressed, and empowering them to equal opportunity driven prospects in life empower countries’ citizenry and societies to aggregate in progress and, ultimately, success.
The quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has and will always inspire people to strive for freedom.
Yet, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the human condition among minorities, particularly the Black community in the US, continues to manifest many self-defeating behaviors. Those plaguing some – actually many – segments of society today lead in the opposite direction of the pursuit of happiness: personal enslavement and the pursuit of misery.
Dwelling in, no, actually living with the historical trauma of slavery and what most Black Americans assert is systemic racism, defines the country we live in as an entirely unjust and amoral place. It is entirely irrelevant that the US is by far the least racist country on earth. Albeit certainly not entirely color—race—blind.
The resulting victim mentality has the tendency of many to believe they are being “exploited.” Astoundingly, that has been and continues to be reinforced by parents, peers, politicians, and disingenuous community leaders.
So much of that leads to unbridled rage. In fact, a veritable addiction to rage. So many of so called leaders in Black communities are guilty of malpractice in regard to betterment of those communities. On the contrary. They trade in rage.
In 1911, Booker T. Washington wrote: “I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” How remarkably prophetic.
At the very onset of any meaningful discussion to attack the obvious downward vortex so many Black Americans live and toil in —social, economic, moral— the tragic breakdown of the Black family must be addressed. That contributes mightily to the pathology of disenchantment and ultimately, violence.
The honest and enlightened leaders in the Black society, all of them, point to the breakdown of the family, and specifically to the tragedy of an overwhelming percentage, 72%, of black babies being born to unwed mothers. 70% to women under 30. Fatherless children. And then there is the absolute catastrophe that so many of those children are raised without fathers. 71% of those children never finish high school. Some 80% of those children become law-breakers, homeless or drug addicts. Overwhelming majority end up incarcerated — from youth through adulthood. Too many become victims of violent crime. Finally, an astounding 40% of those children become homeless adults.
It is as much a tragedy as an abject shame that our society now seems content to point fingers and assign blame, losing the sense of intractable spirit that enabled Americans to fight through prior hardships.
The only way to ever overcome racism, as are other pervasive social pathologies, anti-Semitism for example, and the underlying genetic reality to dislike, distrust, fear people different than ourselves, is to make education a key priority. Education has to be about a lot of things, certainly about presenting our differences, focusing on shared history of persecution aligning all oppressed minorities. Learning lessons of history and working hard to prevent bad history from repeating itself.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela.
There is no magic wand that with some strident but ultimately ineffective swipes, wipes away generations of hate, disappointment, having ridden the back of the social and economic bus. That is inarguably a multi-generational, immensely focused and equally costly educational endeavor. And then the imperative of nurturing social awareness as to equality; and divorce from as much bias as can be. Without diminishing all the good that we already are.
To be clear, by way of just one example, I would never confess nor profess to white privilege, no matter if a tenured professorship at a fine university or a top 1% paying job at a major corporation was at stake. Simply because I do not feel, exhibit nor enjoy white privilege. Doing so would be intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
The alternative to the “convinced-oppressed-feeling” leads to the option to carry an understandable however tragic chip on one’s shoulder due to historic oppression, however chronologically distanced one might be.
Imagine the following as a go-forward paradigm. Imagine that, with acquiescence to all manner of sacrifices, small and massive, that must be made. Emphasize education, a generational zero-choice necessity, teach boundaries, teach and enforce the imperative of family units and structure, help young people develop some toughness and the ability to be “insulted”, and learn to present their rightful case for their benefit, as rationally as possible. While busting a gut “getting there!” All the aforewritten in this paragraph notwithstanding, I readily concede that it is all a massive ask, all the way around.
Those who focus solely on having been and continue to be victimized, and, therefore, live in that inexorable economic, social and legal quagmire, do not seek understanding, acceptance, equity, and inclusion. Rather, redress by whatever means, including violence. That is a tragic conclusion for those who do not seek enlightenment: whoever they are and wherever they are on the swing of the pendulum.
©2022. Steven J. Manning. All rights reserved worldwide. And reproduction, in part or whole, in any medium whatsoever is strictly prohibited.