Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Letter To A Brother

Brother xxxxx:

I am engaged in multiple dialogues with various Black folks on the general subject of "Where do we go from here?". The perceived 'talking down" style comes from the experience that certain Black folks don't like being challenged. They will start calling names as a defense mechanism and thus will never have to submit their line of thinking to any particular introspection and thus our strategy continues on - unchallenged. I will work to have a constructive conversation with you.

I assure you that my only goal is for the best interests of my own people. At times, however, the people themselves become beholden to certain principalities that despite their popular support, do not in fact represent their own best interests. I perceive my purpose as being to challenge the "Black establishment" for the very same reasons that the "White Establishment" needs to be challenged. Power does not always work in the best interests of the stated constituency. In doing so the attacks upon my person are incumbent with the exercise.

You reported your life's tale about being convicted of a crime that you did not commit as a youth. I have little doubt that this experience has motivated you to reach out to the Black men who are in jail as they too have not lost their individual stories or their humanity while being locked behind bars. Regarding my own "street contact" - I choose to work in a reading program for young Black male residents of a housing project. I have come to realize that they are like my own young son but don't have some of the structure that my wife and I afford to our children. I choose to focus my efforts on prevention. I also have plans to develop a technology training class for this same group of kids. I am in a far better position to translate my computing skills to them than to be any type of direct social services advocate for them. Their possession of hard skills will greatly increase their utility and employability.

All of this, however, brings me to another dimension of my own advocacy. I am a "victims rights" advocate in the same way that others are a "victim of the system" rights advocate. I would be in denial if I ignored so many of the "Black people crying" as a result of having lost a loved one to a senseless act of violence. In my research there are certain communities within cities where Black people are concentrated in which the 'homicide closure rates' are abysmal. These assailants walk free, never having to account for their deeds in the same functional way that White racists in the past were able to kill us and not have to stand accountable because the system was skewed in their favor. Currently the "system" in question extends beyond the granite halls of justice and the iron bars of the jail into the systematic actions of the Black community itself. This system is stacked in a away where justice is fleeting for Black people today with the finger prints of Black people being all over the crime scene.

I am sure that you will hear more of my views - both in our personal correspondence and as I reply to the various brothers on the e-mail thread. Behind all of my thoughts are the clear vision that change within the Black community will only come from the wholesale change within the Black community with the community itself initiating the bulk of it because continuing on this same course has proven too painful for us.

Please understand - my response to the message by the sister from Ebony is because it followed the common pattern that is rampant within Black political discourse - savage one's political adversaries (conservative Republicans) but speak little about the local incumbents (Progressive Democrats). The murders that she spoke of, the HIV infections and of course - the state of our schools and our young people in general needs to be front and center in our racial consciousness domain which then flows over to our political domain. Let all who are at fault be held responsible not just those who's sight can draw a crowd of protest from Black folks.

Reread the construct of her argument. She in effect dismisses the candidate that "can't relate" to her struggles that the Black community faces (in some cases "struggles" = failures) while effectively fails to talk about the machine of politicians that are actually and directly presiding over these issues which cause so much consternation among Black people. There is no ideological and partisan diversity within the Black community to speak of.

All of this is a basic argument regarding which entity should bear the burden for solving the most pressing problems within the Black community. Some argue that this is the national government who bears the burden - where the unfair distribution of resources and services (as well as latent racism) that has created that which we see today. The other side - which I admittedly favor - says that social order and wealth are assembled by the people themselves, not rained down upon them. There is need for them to have skin in the game of their own destiny. The community that seeks these things will work to first communicate to their people of interest the vision of their glorious future then these same people will be asked to express this common goal by primarily ordering themselves behind this comprehensive goal.

The primary point over which I disagree with the prevailing voices in Black America is about the domain over which this movement should be expressed. I believe that the expectation that your "Friends and Family Plan" which defines the people to whom you wish to share your resources with because you fully support their growth being expanded to include your vowed adversaries because they live in the same nation as you do is a flawed strategy. You will always find yourself chasing after them. You will also see them seeking to escape from your circle. Yes - let us ask for justice and a framework for construction. It is we, however, that must do the heavy lifting.

Instead the Black community needs to develop as a whole as it developed the individuals who will play a part in this higher order of things. Last night I attended a banquet held by local Jamaicans. It was a fund raiser to collect money for health care services for their own people in the western portion of the island. In Jamaica a vote on "universal health care" would be irrelevant. Upon its passage all would not be treated to first rate medical services. They don't have the resources present so their only choice is to DO FOR SELF. This connection between the the expats who have departed the island and now have access to both greater monetary resources and medical skills and those who are in need of all of these resources completes the loop and it also gives these ex-pats a purpose for their time spent outside of their homeland.

Within the Black community here in America there is the need for the very same set of services and connectivity. The thought, however, of asking Black people ourselves to form an organic system by which we set up an overlay system of health care and quite possibly dole out scholarships to our own people who might otherwise be hanging out on the corners of Philadelphia, turning them into medical professionals who are helping their own community will likely be seen as something of an insult because we are asking the "victim" to play the primary part in his own recovery.

I reject this thinking. The Black community will create more jobs of its own when we begin to express our needs for goods and services UPON OUR OWN BACKS. This is not an insult - this is critically necessary for any people to do so if they have any hope of being the primary provisions of their own well being. These actions occur at the "human instinctive" level. Employment will come to our people once there are TASKS that are asked of them and the necessary education in place to insure that they operate with disciplined knowledge about their craft.

In response to your "house slave / field slave/ massa" metaphor - I have the audacity to believe that Black folks were required to do all of the above prior to our self determination being hijacked into America. What better way to reconnect with our true orientation than to direct ourselves toward producing more organic expression of our own needs?

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