Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Missed Exit Ramp - Fighting The Perpetual External Threat Rather Than The Internal Demons

The Missed Exit Ramp - Fighting The Perpetual External Threat Rather Than The Internal Demons

I believe that I am a reasonable man who goes out of my way to sample various perspectives and who has access to the "dual life" of the Black Community and others - White, Asian (Indian/Pakistani and Chinese/Korean) and Hispanic. I also understand that the history of the African while in America is like none other. From first being "brought here" to do the bidding of another as part of his scheme of commerce on to the struggle for equal treatment as a full US citizen. It thus is fully understandable as to how the activism that is most visible in the Black community is inclined to be externally focused. It was from the outside that the forces that threatened us the most had come from. It did not matter if one was civil with the highest order of social skills 100 years ago - if as a Black man he dared to walk in the front door of some of the finest hotels in America he was subject to physical attack and arrest. Both were used as extension of White supremacy to keep Blacks in our place. Thus the orientation was most attuned that that which threatened us indiscriminately as a people.

Within the context of this external focus came organizations such as the NAACP that was an organization of individuals working in unison to systematically confront this external threat using the court system as their main channel for having the rights of Black people expressed and defended when necessary. I have documented problems with the NAACP version 2008 but I have no problem in stating that they were an essential force in having Black Americans and other minority groups to have their rights protected. The framework per the legal precedents established by the NAACP is what these others are using.

We are all used to picking up history books and seeing certain periods of time clearly delineated for us. The "The Dark Ages", "The Colonial Era", "Industrial Age", "Reconstruction" - all of them can be plotted on a time line that the average history book has graphically presented to its readers. I wonder - did the people who were living in these specific eras make note when one period ended and a new one took its place? Clearly the answer is "no". These intervals of time are labeled as such after the fact to assist the observers of history to easily understand the period per the summation added by the historians.

In my own perception as a Black American it is clear to me that we are in the gray area that resides between two distinct intervals and are in fact clearly over new and uncharted territory. The period that has been exited which would no doubt be labeled as the "Civil Rights Era" was defined by the fight to obtain rights for our people in response to some assault upon our person which in the past was permitted with impunity per implicit government sanction. The gray area was the time period in which it was necessary to go on a "racism chase" as portions of the country did not realize "what time it is" and thus tested the fortitude of the government to enforce its own laws accordingly. Despite a list of examples that might be thrown up by individuals who disagree - the fact remains that in 2008 a racial assault upon a Black person or evidence of systematic discrimination in the workforce does not go unchecked. There is both active legal recourse available to the aggrieved Black person as well as comprehensive government sanction performed by governments at all levels against such actions. Even the Federal Department of Justice under the management of the oft scorned "conservatives" enforce these Civil Rights laws. The debate only being about the threshold at which government intervention and sanction is required with liberal Blacks having a trigger that is more sensitive than that of the conservatives who are more inclined to give deference to the corporate entity, the usual target of sanction. Most can be lead to agree - despite having rulings not go their way per the ideological bias that is present - their access to the legal system to have their "day in court" is more assured today than ever before in America when these matters come up for debate.

As for me - I consider myself to be an "analyst of Black people in society". Again drawing upon what I am asked to do on the professional side of my life - I am able to make observations of the way people channel their activities toward a certain end and then comment about them with reference to their stated objectives. I have learned through self maturity and via my exposure to leaders charged with managing people in order to achieve a certain result that the essence of their success is not just the mechanical steps that all who they are responsible for take as part of their duties. Greater than this is the need for a common set of objectives from which all of their actions ultimately roll up to. In recent parlance the notion of "the mission statement" has been coined as a means of unifying all of the actions and have all directives emanate from. "Quality", "Customer Satisfaction", "Safety" - all of these operative words can be found in these mission statements.

When I talk like this I inevitably get the push back artist telling me that "a race of people is very different from a group of people operating in the auspices of company". I could not disagree with them any more than I do. If you'll note - in today's society "what we do" is the fundamental portion from which much else flows - our wealth, our need for education, where we live, health care, who we socialize with. You had better believe that many of the concepts applied to individuals working in unison with a corporate entity is directly transferable in addressing some of the societal and community problems of today. The concept of establishing a goal, detailing the methodology for obtaining that goal and then getting specific as to what each member of the community MUST DO for these goals to be achieved is directly applicable to any group.

In my debates with many people of my race I find that they are so oriented toward fighting the EXTERNAL FIGHT that such talk as I have laid out above gets pushed aside as irrelevant to that which is attacking us. Only by "speaking truth to power" can we progress as a people. That one day "that LAST WORD SPOKEN to tell them about themselves" as we show that we are REALLY, REALLY angry this time is going to lead to the changes that have been long sought after. In fact I am but a "corporate indoctrinated shill" in service to our enemies. (Of course their use of the Democratic party to achieve their ends should not be seen in kind). Sadly their ideological bias and quite frankly their ignorance prevents them from seeing how the comprehensive and enduring power as expressed by these very firms that they vote for each month per the money sent into them each month in exchange for a good or service they consume is a testament to how the efforts of individual people can be bonded together for the purposes of actually obtaining all that was listed above as benefits (application of one's education, etc). The "revolutionary" doctrine has far outlasted its utility at this stage in our development as a people.

As we consider some of the key problems that we have in the Black community - disproportionately high incarceration rates, inferior educational facilities, unemployed minds and disconnectedness from the system of wealth creation - there has been a standard and popular framework for analysis as to WHY all of these things are as they are in 2008. RACISM!!!

Racism is the great "summary statement" that is applied when we just can't figure out WHY there is two groups of people - one White and one Black yet different set of results are had - with all else seemingly being equal. Our response? ATTACK THE RACISM! If we can get those folks on the outside to stop using their power over us to give us a differentiated set of services (or to spread THEIR money over to our town because of our shared Americanism) then our problems will be solved.

What about our internal problems? Unruly Black teens? - they grew up in disposed of communities. What we see today is what THEY (this external force) has planted in the ground for them to become. Unfavorable outcomes in Health? Those menthol cigarettes are working as they were intended. High Incarceration Rates? You know the Prison Industrial Complex - the new slavery - must make their money per the bounty that is on the head of every Black man entering into their midst.

What is the common thread to all of these?
We must work "ON BEHALF OF BLACK PEOPLE", having the SYSTEM to change its ways so that that which it rains upon Black America will cleanse us. The activism has the mindset of lobbying on our behalf in the legislative chambers of America for these long sought after benefits. Even when we talk about the EDUCATION that is critical for us to become SELF-SUFFICIENT and INDEPENDENT - the pathway to obtaining this has an external passageway prior to us ever walking into the land of independence. It is said to be UNFAIR that the aggregate economic output that is expressed via the community's policies are used as the primary means of funding these important services. Anyone who does not see that the anti-gentrification policies that are popular also have the effect of suppressing property values and thus taxes collected upon them needs to return to Economics 101.

What is the means by which these consequences can be worked around? GOVERNMENT POLICIES of redistribution. Rather than go through the standard name calling exercise that is often associated with such a statement let's just lay out plainly the fact that in such a strategy greater society's economic output is used to subsidize the system within these communities which have proven to be unable to fund the standard of living that is desired by the residents despite their own economic ability to generate such wealth. The society thus expresses its valuation of the residents within living up to this certain standard and thus a net transfer of "goodwill" takes place with the transaction. The question for those who are interested in the benefit of this community MUST BE - "Will your efforts to NATIONALIZE the benefit assumed by the people of most interest to you ever attain the state of EQUALITY that you seek or are you are on a perpetual EQUALITY CHASE with the hopes that it one day will?

Let's revert back to the concept of "intervals" in time. I believe that it is reasonable to believe that we are standing in a "clearing in the field". The jungle through which we once walked which had vines, trees and thorns preventing us from standing up or moving forward as a people have been replaced by the creeping tentacles that are seen on the forward growth of vine as it crawls up a wall or fence. Indeed it is a bind but an upward thrust of one leg at a time is enough to free ourselves from its grasp, allowing us to move forward unencumbered.

Indeed "organizational" memory is an equally powerful force. The memory of that impenetrable jungle is a strong one. It has been passed down throughout history and remains as an important part of our folklore. In fact an important part of our hero making are the details of how we fought against these forces.

Thus we have two competing theories at hand. One is the top level fight - Battle for NATIONAL EQUALITY for all as the pretext of having equal benefit rain down upon us. Second is the notion that I am advancing - the propagation of the "Wez Free" message onto the masses. The promotion that the greatest force to determine our ultimate outcome IS US. That we have enough of a clearing afoot that INTERNAL ORDER is force enough to make that which is lingering irrelevant in proportion to the whole. These two strategies could not be more fundamentally different as we consider the PEOPLE upon who these efforts are focused. The essence of the "External" versus "Internal" debate is thus.

Those favoring the "External" strategy call upon our SHARED NATIONALISM to be the ticket by which we will receive EQUALITY as expressed by the government. The day a constitutional amendment is passed guaranteeing "equal access to quality education" is going to bring this forth and if not.....the string of lawsuits to that effect will do so. At minimum every school will have a swimming pool afforded to them. The question of WHO will win the contract for the construction of this pool no doubt will be a point of contention. This is how things go though, when it is not YOUR MONEY doing the buying and you are more interested in being in RECEIPT OF BENEFIT rather than the production of such.

Of course - the counter stance to the INTERNAL strategy will be the oft heard slam that one needs "BOOT STRAPS" in the first place to be able to pull one's self up by them. They only need to do comparative analysis between the resources that the poorest of Americans have to that of at least 3 billion other citizens on this Earth. In doing so they might note that the bootstraps that they do have while not as thick as the affluent in America certainly function significantly better than those available to the rest of the world.

Another serious flaw in the REJECTION of the INTERNAL strategy is the national debt of the United States and the impending growth of other nations around the world. This "world's richest nation" is poised to move closer to "room temperature" with the rest of the world as these other nations stand up on their feet and increase their productive capacity. For one's constitutional right to equal education funding to be possible - the money has to be available in the first place. Increased immigration into this nation will only add to the pressures upon the national resource well. It is a serious strategic mistake to have this external dependency rather than preparing for the independence that might be force upon us due to circumstances beyond our control.

For me - that which was theorized as the ascent into local offices proves enlightening to the chances that a more national effort will one day succeed. If they "flew away" from you at the local level do you really figure they'll stay put once you try to trap them nationally?

No comments: