Saturday, July 28, 2007

Do The Black Poor "Have A Voice"?

Do the Black poor "have a voice" in this country? A woman who was an activist that I overheard on an airplane flight the other day obviously thought not. As she told of her efforts on behalf of the poor in a particular city she told the man sitting next to her, who's ear she commandeered that "I work on behalf of poor Black folks who have no voice in this country. Otherwise the government and corporations would run over them".

To be clear - in listening to this woman's conversation non-stop for over an hour I did not detect a bit of radical anger in her message. She no doubt was truly working in the best interests of these people. I even thought about exchanging contact information with her in order to find out "what makes her tick". I decided not to.

My general feeling, however, is that while her efforts are important she also contributes to the status quo WITHIN the Black community by always working on "their behalf" in the hollowed halls of government rather than positioning them to the point in which they are conscious of the environment around them and they don't need an outsider to come in and "help them".

No doubt in the Civil Rights Era South, in places like Mississippi Blacks were subjugated for so long by a racist system that it in fact did take "outside agitators" to fight against the system and allow these people to exercise their right to vote without fear of violence or retribution by employers. I beg anyone to prove that this is the case today.

Now it is time for the second shoe to drop. Various people have worked hard to make sure that the SYSTEM is not able to actively suppress the dispossessed in these poor Southern towns. There are counter-systems within the hierarchy of government which could check the actions of the lower government as they trample over people. Yet despite this work on their behalf a great amount of disconnectedness remains among this group. When will the activists begin to turn with in and "teach the voiceless how to talk"?

I have always been bothered with the "service project workers" who show up in a community with brooms, trash bags and shovels to clean up a poor and desolate community with the thoughts of cleaning up the environment that the people live in so that the pretty flowers and streets clean of debris will over a bit of hope and sunshine upon these people". The true spirit of these outsider is seen however when you inspect IF THEY LEAVE BEHIND THE BROOMS, SHOVELS AND TRASH BAGS for the PEOPLE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY TO OPERATE WHEN THEY HAVE DEPARTED. You see some people in their works believe that they are getting closer to their God by performing charity, and this is a sound principle which should not be challenged. My God, however, did not intend for an otherwise healthy man to be assumed to be handicapped. In truth many of these people who were working on behalf of their God FAILED to make note of the importance of transferring their value of a clean environment and the good feelings that it brings UPON THE PEOPLE WHO THEY WERE WORKING ON BEHALF OF. Instead they choose to be selfish and self-stimulating of their own good feelings inside.

The fact is that in having failed to leave behind the brooms, shovels and trash bags they have created the conditions by which the high standard by which they have left the community when they departed from their last service project to be but a blip on the time line for the minute after they depart the trash will begin to pile up one discarded item at a time and the weeds will begin to over take the flowers - with no one having been trained how to weed the flower bed. It will take another visit from the outsider to lift the standard of care back up to where it was.

CLEARLY the concept of the STANDARD OF LIVING from these outsiders was IMPOSED upon those that they were working on behalf off rather than any intention to EMPOWER these people but also and more importantly HOLD THEM TO MAINTAINING THE STANDARD so that they too can appreciate the benefits of a clean and blossoming community will bring to the soul.

Thus my criticism of the verbally engaging woman that I heard on the plane is that in her altruism she failed to ask the people she was working on behalf of to change for the better. The subject in this case was about government sterilization of certain "poor and undesirable" people. Last night this problem hit home to me as I ran into a waitress at a sports bar that my friends and I frequent. She was pregnant with her third child on the way. It is clear that she had been struggling previously. To add another mouth to feed to the mix seemed to me to be unthinkable. In my case I apply my own situation and long discussions with my wife about reproductive choices. Despite our ability to afford a third child we do not wish to assume the lifestyle changes and time commitments that such an addition would mandate. Why is it that we, a stable and financial sound Black couple are expected to 'handle our business' and manage our own affairs but SOCIETY seeks to throw out a safety need for this single mother of (soon to be) 3 to continue with her choices despite the burden placed on herself and her children? Activists must learn to shift from working on behalf of people with heavy burdens to working WITH people with burdens to insure that they don't add to them unnecessarily.

No comments: