New Year, Old Problems:The African-American's Top 5
Malcom and Martin- A Meeting of Great Minds
History Repeats Itself
Recently, I was blessed to be able to hear several audio recordings of one of my all time favorite heroic figures-my ancestor and civil rights leader, Malcolm X. I cannot express how much I adore his black nationalistic views. I sat at his feet in awe and I literally shook my head as I listened to one of his final speeches in which he prophetically stated events that recently occurred in the United States.
In 1965, the morning after his home was bombed, he discussed the role of the government and the media in race relations and the part they play in the systematic oppressive mistreatment of African-Americans. He said "With skillful manipulation of the press, they (white people, white government) make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim." What he said next really made my jaw drop.
The Role of Statistics in Prejudice
Malcolm states that the government "always wants the public on their side", and that "at the local level, they'll create an image by feeding statistics to the press showing the high crime rates in the Negro community and as soon as this high crime rate is emphasized through the press, then people begin to look upon the Negro community as a community of criminals. Once the public accepts this image also, it paves the way for a police-state type activity in the community."
He goes on to say "When they (the white man) think that an explosive era is coming up they grab their press..."
I thought about how true this was today as it was in 1965. I relived the recent heavy media focus on black crime statistics during the highly publicized killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the homicide of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. I also felt validated in my stance during recent debates with friends and colleagues, both black and white, over the feigned idea of "black on black violence", which oftentimes left me red in the face.
The Psychology Behind It All
Before listening to this speech in its entirety, I didn't understand how so many black people could have bought into the notion that blacks can't and shouldn't complain about the shooting and murder of unarmed young black boys at the hands of white police officers and white neighborhood watchmen just because of the statistics of homicide in the black community.
But why has this change in thinking occurred in the 50 years since Malcolm gave this conscious speech? Why are black people now, more than ever, buying into the deception of their oppressor and mindlessly agreeing with what the media states?
Knowledge is power, so I continued to listen...
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly Shares Statistics About Crime
I wanted to be able to gain understanding as to why any person would justify an unjust killing of a boy based solely upon the notion that " black people kill other black people", and run with it?
So I continued to listen...
Before doing so, it was very easy to understand why a white supremacist or misinformed white American may lay claim to this statement, but what would lead a black person in America to form their lips to agree with or repeat this insane statement?
The answer lies in the top 5 problems African Americans face today. They are as follows:
# 5- LACK OF POWER
In every sector of American society, black Americans are still playing catch-up. Due to the generational effects of slavery, Jim Crow laws, terrorist activity perpetrated by groups like the Ku Klux Klan against black communities, the government, and institutional discrimination, many blacks are just now gaining access to many of the resources white Americans have been privy to since the foundation of this nation.
It is my belief that the average black American has seen himself as powerless for so long, they automatically assume they can do nothing about ANYTHING! In addition, they have been witness to the disastrous and deadly results that can occur when powerful black men and women, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Huey Newton, and Asata Shakur attempt to re-claim their God-given power.
Gaining power wasn't easy for Europeans and it won't be easy for black Americans, but having power is essential to the survival of the race. More representation and ownership by blacks for blacks is needed in government, media, and education.
Many detrimental effects of slavery, Reconstruction era antics against blacks, Jim Crow laws, and every day discrimination are present in today's black American in the form of mental illness and disorder. It is difficult to know accurate data on the prevalence of mental health disorders due to the negative stigma associated with it and the reluctance of African-Americans to recognize and report it.
Depression, bi-polar disorder, and other illnesses often go undiagnosed, untreated, and misunderstood. Many people suffering from these disease use alcohol or other drugs to "self-medicate" against the symptoms of these illnesses and furthermore, according to a study conducted for the National Institute of Mental Health, prayer is identified as one of the main preferred coping mechanisms in the black community.
Mental health issues lead to not only widespread abuse of alcohol and drugs, but also abuse and neglect of children, destruction of male-female relationships, decreased self-esteem in children, and generational destructive behavioral patterns.
It is way past time to get serious about mental health issues in the black community.
(Check out the research conducted by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General by clicking the link below for more information on this point)
#3-GREED AND THE LOVE OF MONEY
If the tribes in Africa were so strong, mighty, and unified in pre-colonial times, how was the slave trade, led by white Europeans, so successful? Furthermore, if European traders did not know how to navigate the interior of the African regions, how did they gain access to slaves?
The two main reasons the slave trade was able to start, and continue for as long as it did are 1) The unapologetic greed of African natives, and 2) the ignorance and/or unconcerned attitude of the African native slave traders to the plight the slaves they captured would face in the Americas.
Part of the problem we face as a people, is not understanding our role in, and not taking RESPONSIBILITY for the part we play in our own demise!
The greed and ignorance that led to the sustainability of the slave trade and the loss of our value and tradition of "community" is still very much alive today.
The black community has become so assimilated to the individualistic ideals of the dominant culture, that we place a higher value on individual achievements rather than collective endeavors and achievements. Asian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and other cultural and religious groups continue to work together to form business, build communities, and maintain tradition based upon their likenesses, while black Americans move further and further away from the cohesiveness that could lead to the supreme power they can have collectively.
Many people in the black community achieve success in various ways, and at times, by any means necessary, and then move away and disconnect from the very people who helped them to reach that pinnacle. The "as long as I got mine" attitude of greed and the love of money has done more to destroy black society in America than most of the things anyone else could do to that same society.
#2- DECLINE IN FAMILY STRUCTURE/DISUNITY
The bedrock of traditional black society used to be the black family, which was headed by a black man and a black woman. Over the past 30 years, the black family has struggled with the effects of missing fathers due to incarceration and murder, and has been infiltrated by European ideas and notions of households headed by same-sex couples.
Could it be that we made more progress in the 1960s because we were more unified? Of course this is a rhetorical question...
The black family system had already been damaged under slavery and discriminatory practices in America, post-slavery. It continues today with the devaluing of marriage in the community and the increase in abortion rates and other birth control methods that are pushed to black people. In 2003, Hispanics overtook blacks as the largest minority group in our nation.
The decline in family structure is the second important problem blacks face in 2015. If this issue is fixed, then all other issues would slowly begin to decline. If more households were headed by mentally strong black men and women who have a grasp on their true identity and power, we would see less greed, exploitation, misunderstanding of mental health issues,and failure, and increased community, power and success.
Psychology shows us that the first step in fixing a problem is to recognize and admit that there is a problem.
Black Americans have to stop being reactive to situations when they arise and become more pro-active in the community, in education, in religion, and every other institution we are a part of. Other races and people look at the black American as not worthy of respect because we repeatedly choose to not fight when a fight is needed, we let others exploit us, and we have no sense of consciousness as a whole.
If blacks in America don't re-organize and get back to the basic foundations our forefathers lived by, we will continue to see killings of unarmed black boys, mis-education of black youth, substandard housing,higher unemployment levels than the national average, and a prison system filled with black bodies.
Mental health in the African American community
- Chapter 3 Mental Health Care for African Americans - Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity - N
African Americans occupy a unique niche in the history of America and in contemporary national life. The legacy of slavery and discrimination continues to influence their social and economic standing.
As a college student, I remember hearing someone say that integration was the worst thing that could've happened to black people in America. I struggled with that notion for years until I realized why it was true. I also had to accept that it was not an attack on the relationships our community eventually built with white people, but more of a look at the loss of opportunity to re-build our own communities.
I THANK GOD for my ancestors; they did what they could to make changes to make the future brighter for my generation. I understand that integration was a necessary evil at the time in order for blacks to finally gain some type of access to the American dream. In addition to that, many had already tried on several occasions to build there own communities and institutions and were met with violence,heavy opposition, and even death. Integration served a purpose at the time, but did it do more good for African-Americans or more harm?
If issues from 1965 are still repeating themselves today, and in some cases, becoming worse, one could only draw one conclusion; more harm was done to the overall health of the black community.
Where do We Go From Here?
Days before he was assassinated, Malcolm concluded his speech by saying "We need to start organizing intelligently among ourselves.." and furthermore he states the reason why he said all of the things he said that day...
"I point these things out brothers and sisters, so that you and I will know, the importance, in 1965, of being in total unity with each other, in harmony with each other, of being in peace and not letting the man maneuver us into fighting with each other."
If you do not care, then do nothing.
A lot of black Americans may not care about the plight of their brothers and sisters once they "make it out the hood",obtain a well paying job or honorable position, or marry outside of their race. Just as European Americans at one time did not care about the plight of Africans in America, we have become dead to our own. We look down upon the uneducated and poor instead of trying to pull them up in the realization that black lives really do matter.
What you can do
It took individuals from both sides to turn the tides of ill regard and prejudice against African Americans, but unfortunately that was not enough. The reality is that the rest of the work is up to us and the work is in us. No one can do for us what we must done for ourselves.
I do sense a new awakening of black nationalism as people have grown tired of the way the American justice system continues to discount and ignore black lives. I believe that it is as important to address the reasons why black people kill black people as well as why white people kill black people, but when the Whites kill, they are oftentimes not punished. I believe that when more people begin to analyze the reasoning behind these things, they will begin to think again and think anew.
I believe that peaceful marching days are quickly coming to an end, as more black Americans awaken to the reality of their position in America. Our ancestors did their best, now it's time for us to pick the torch and weapons up and fight; by any means necessary!