Black Fear

Black America's Denial

Fear is found at the very base of the soul of black folks. Like the roots of a mighty oak, fear holds us up and destroys us at the same time. Through slavery, reconstruction, the black belt, civil rights and yes, even today, fear guides our every move, be they good or bad. The fear of rejection, ridicule, poverty, and death at the hands of the majority, the fear we hold to our breast and feed like our newborn children.

Birthed in slavery and cultivated over the decades by both Whites and Blacks the fear that lives deep down within us, molds us on every level. The fear of slavery that caused us to risk life and limb to reach freedom is the same fear that caused the slave to tell master the direction we ran. The motivating fear of being controlled that encouraged people like Marcus Garvey to start the Nationalist movement is the same fear that caused blacks to assist in his destruction. It is the fear of maltreatment that finds Assata Shakur exiled to Cuba, the same fear that has Bill Cosby afraid to speak on the prison industrial complex when addressing black plight. It was the fear of being called ignorant that created such prestigious institutions like Morehouse College, and the same fear of social ignorance that caused Morehouse to refuse to bestow upon Atlanta’s greatest child (MLK) a degree of honor. It was the fear of destruction that caused millions to receive Malcolm X, the same fear that caused them to exterminate him.

Fear is our greatest strength and our most destructive burden. It lifts us to greater levels of achievement at the same time as it lowers us to depths beyond our reason. Fear of poverty makes a rapper dance a jig, wear gold teeth, and play the role of Sambo then tell us it’s OK because they are only expressing their life experiences. Bullshit…Their life experience is based in institutionalized racism but we rarely hear them speak on it. Our young men are killing themselves in the streets out of fear and we cannot find a way to turn the tide because adults share yet refuse to admit that they suffer the same fear. Black men devalue Black women and Black women devalue Black men out of the fear of being chastised for being with a person of another race. We fear nationalism because we know that the White population also fears it. Nationalism is racist, unless you are Italian, Jewish, Greek, Asian, or Hispanic, then it’s just the way you live out the American dream. Oh yes, we also fear the White population of this country. Afraid to speak the truth of a country built of prejudices, prejudices that often put us at the back of the line, prejudices that see us as guilty until proven innocent.

Black fear is the greatest driving force in our culture from both a positive and negative perspective. The problem is that the majority of us refuse to acknowledge that such fear even exists. We pretend that the uncomfortable feeling we get talking about racism around Whites is derived from our desire to be politically correct. We make out that prison sentences for non violent crimes given to black boys are justified, even though they are not extended to Whites. We mumble under our breath and walk around with a chip on our shoulder about every incident that can be remotely called racist, but we claim to see no color. We pretend that slavery is history and that it has no affect on us today, then we turn around and beat our children like slaves, using the lash of a belt instead of the lash of a whip.

I can no longer for the sake of my people pretend that we are not a scared lot. It is only by admitting this simple fact that we can take control of our fear and utilize it to our benefit. Admit your fears and you control your fears, ignore them and they control you.

I leave you with the following quote from my favorite racist:

“The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people – a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people.”

-W.E.B. Dubois

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Comments 9 comments

posey profile image

posey 6 years ago

Food for thought. If we are so afraid then why do we do all the negative things we do. Are you suggesting that all of our problems as a people are linked back to our fear of white people?

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Here Here!!! I bow to the master. Your hub was awesome and a great intelligent read. I will be reading more.

SOBF profile image

SOBF 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Thank you! It is tough to find like minded people on this hub.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago

Fear is not unique to African Americans, however, their fears are more reality based than those of non-minorities.

SOBF profile image

SOBF 6 years ago from New York, NY Author

Ralph you bring up a good point. Fear can be found at the root of all acts of evil and at the foot of the most heroic of events in history. While it is not race based, African Americans need to face the fact that it is there and thus influences our culture both good and bad.

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 6 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

You are very correct. Mostly, I think fear is rooted in all who suffer from it, due to poverty and hopelessness. The black American, because of slavery has had a deep histoy of both. I think even poor whites such as myself can relate on some level to fear. Admitting to being fearful does not mean that one is weak. Actually, there is strength in admitting it. One good thing about fear is that it can be a motivator. Now, there is hope, at least.

American Tiger 6 years ago

I felt that Bill Cosby was showing courage and making excellent points about language and self promotion.

I treat every individual as an individual, and look to the content of their character. I don't want to live in a world where hyphens and prefixes are tagged onto "American." My father was a dirt-poor Irish farmer, my mother was a high-born Irish aristocrat.

"Irish American" was used to identify and belittle my great grandfather's family, meaning they were less than Real Americans. We rose above that. When's the last time you heard a "Dumb Pollock" joke? The Polish among us are just more Us.

Where is your condemnation for race-baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who use that fear you speak of to make themselves fortunes? Bill Cosby is not the promulgator of the fear you so rightly hate. They are.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

A very thought-provoking and interesting read. Thanks for the perspective which has opened my eyes to the reality faced by African-Americans. Fear is a terrible thing which eats away at one's soul until it is acknowledged and dealt with.

Love and peace


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

This was a powerful article you have written.

Fear controls most of us in many of the same ways it does you. I cannot relate to some of what you wrote about because I am not Black.

I have felt prejudice in many ways within/my own race. I am afraid to speak of racial matters in front of Black friends for fear of not being politically correct So we are at least some of us trapped by fear. However I do not let it immobilize me and I can see that neither to you. Speaking out is a way to move in the right direction. I am not Pollyanna and know that this is a long fought uphill battle.

But I do believe that dialog is the beginning.

I have written a hub

which I have mentioned this article you have written. Voted up.

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