I have been recording a series of radio programs that are streamed on the Internet so that I can later review them during long business trips or other times when I can multi-task. It is important for me to listen to the messages that are being pumped out to my people in order to both stay abreast of multiple viewpoints and to apply these perspectives onto what I believe and determine if my current beliefs stand up to alternative reasoning.
It goes without saying that the majority of the messages that are heard on Black media outlets are "progressive" in nature. Atlanta's "WRFG" tags itself as the "Progressive Information Station". They give preference to those who have experienced discrimination in getting their messages out in the mainstream media because of their "race, age, gender, sexual orientation or political status". Amy Goodman of Democracy now and a host of Pro-African Revolutionaries (who are residing comfortably in an air conditioned studio in Atlanta Georgia USA) frequent this station. I must say that I enjoy the muckraking and challenges to the American system that they so often bring. It is not that they are "wrong", in my view, it is so often the case that they abstract themselves from the benefit that they receive from the very system that they live in, seeking change as they eat from the tree.
I record "The Friday Night Drum" each week. This is an interesting show because the show with "Sista Courage" puts forth a particular political perspective which is in constant struggle against the repressive forces of the "United Snakes of America". She also uses terms such as "We'll be right Black in a moment" and "We Overstand the importance of certain things". It is actually an excellent show with respect to the detailed community interest issues that they bring up. I don't have to agree with their viewpoints in order to greatly appreciate the value of bringing up that which we are not likely to hear in the mainstream media.
This week's episode was a discussion about Reparations. I learned that the long sought after study to consider the impact of the study of Reparations for American slavery (HR 40) was going to be reviewed by John Conyers' House Judiciary committee.
There was a Black physician who was on the show. She made the case that the legacy of slavery and "Jim Crow" has had a deleterious impact upon Black people and our community's development in relation to other people in this country who were accepted in without the same obstacles. She told of how the cultural admonitions that were created from our history are still apart of parental warnings to their children which limit them. For example where as it was often deadly for a Black person to look a White person directly in the eye the doctor noted that today parents distribute similar warnings to their children before they leave the house which end up perpetuating a sense of inferiority within Black people. Some of these points show up in the lower academic performance of Black kids compared to White.
The more interesting part of her conversation was when she argued that there is a direct link between current Black medical ailments and the legacy of slavery. Obesity, increased cases of diabetes, suicide, stroke, high blood pressure and depression all have their roots in the fact that we live in a society that continues to oppress us because we are Black. This was the basis for her call for Reparations.
The doctor argued that Black people should be offered free health care because the conspiracy that America has concocted against Blacks for its duration as a nation. Black people are dying for the want of quality health care. These medical ailments are directly linked to the deeds of America and the psychological effects on our ancestors and the culture that has communicated them intergenerationally. The remedy for that which ails Black people today and in the future is government paid health care as a reparation.
Upon hearing the above linkage I realized how fundamentally my thoughts differed from those of this doctor, the "Friday Night Drum program", the average progressive Black person and those who support Reparations for these purposes.
First let me identify my common view points. I agree that access to quality health care is a fundamental requirement for a people and a community to sustain itself. It goes without saying then that the Black community should do everything necessary to insure that our people obtain quality health care. I believe that as a society would should MAXIMIZE the provision of health care to everyone while not attempting to violate the fundamental principles of economics nor private property rights in order to achieve this worthy end.
The point where I differ fundamentally with my ideological adversaries is the tendency of the Progressive to focus almost exclusively on lobbying and protesting toward the government in order to be provided such health care services. By definition this creates an external dependency upon a system that Blacks have no direct control over. All the while Black people remain in want of health care services and some are dying in the process.
In the program the host and the guest listed all of the surplus revenues that the state of Georgia had amassed. The governor recently made note of a $750 million to $1 billion balance in the "rainy day fund" for the state. The guest and radio show host claimed their right to these funds for provision of health care. "Black people have only come as far as we have through protests and letting our feelings of outrage be known". They focused upon the unfeeling and unsympathetic politicians that were seemingly out of tune with the needs of the Black community when it comes to health care. Thus again their strategy for providing health care to Black people was NOT to have Blacks organize to provide health care to Black people. Instead the strategy is to LOBBY the powers that be to provide health care to Black people.
I can just image years later when the contracts have been let to provide the government based services that these advocates have lobbied for that some of these advocates will turn their future protests into the issue of how Black owned firms are not receiving their "fair share" of contracted revenues to provide these services to their own people. I can image that these same people might raise a protest about the race of the people providing these services in the Black community and how Blacks are not provided with adequate medical training to work in these facilities. The common point of their message is the fact that the need is for the Black community to ADVOCATE FOR rather than ACTUALLY POSITION OURSELVES TO PROVIDE health care services to Black people, indeed to "save our own selves" where others are not interested in doing so.
I was reminded of a statement recently made by radio host Steve Harvey which said "in life it is often the journey toward your goal rather than the actual point of achieving the goal that knowledge and character is built the most". I believe this to be a true statement. In the course of seeking to improve one's condition per the goal that is present - it is the SYSTEM of changes that are implemented that form the structure that all else is built upon. Upon realizing important lessons along the way and them making sure that harmful elements are not passed along is how the concept of "don't forget your history lest you are doomed to repeat it" should be implemented.
Based on this radio interview and the general direction of the Reparations movement it seems that they are building a legacy of advocacy and lobbying EXTERNAL FORCES so that Black people might be given the resources that are seen as their "rights". This view point seems to prioritize the RECEIPT OF SERVICES over the PROVISION OF SERVICES and and the question of WHO the people are that are providing these services to the Black community.
My criticism of such a strategy is that there is no guarantee that the Black community will be improved from a technical perspective with regard to our capabilities to provide both the resources and then the medical expertise to take care of our own interests. As we consider the impact of "
The "unemployment problem" within urban America is really an "under-utilization" problem within the Black community. Will there be calls for Black people from these same underserved communities to focus their educational efforts into becoming doctors and other highly skilled medical professionals? Will the community be willing to develop a fund raising charitable organization to pay for the college education of these individuals and have them return to their own communities to deliver such services to the people? Think of the organizational and management skills that are squandered by NOT seeking to address the problem from within. Instead internal skills are shifted to EXTERNAL LOBBYING. I know that many people will say that it is OFFENSIVE of me to dare believe that the people must help themselves when they need help today. The key is to focus on the FUTURE COMPETENCIES that are developed rather than the CURRENT CONSUMPTION that is received. The demand is perpetual. The question is will the supply of resources be available and how is your community negatively impacted if the system that you have no direct control over fails?
Update 2007/12/08 12:26pm :
I would fully support the call made by these operatives to have the state of Georgia to transition the property of the now defunct Morris Brown College into an urban medical institute for the education of medical professionals that are focused upon preparing doctors and nurses to provide medical services to the underserved communities across the state of Georgia.