Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Back to the Future"

The Prelude

They say hindsight is 20/20, but in my few years of living, experiences have afforded me with clear vision on a few matters of life. One thing I am passionate about is ethics and fair treatment among all people, but I am particularly concerned with the African American race because well…let’s face it, I’m black.

Here recently, I have been especially observant and aware of subconscious attitudes and behaviors in America that I believe stem directly from the shameful stain of slavery. It is inane to minimize the significant effect the American enslavement of African Americans that lasted for hundreds of years has had (and still continues to have), and even more senseless to limit its effects to the mindsets and outcomes of only one race.

Over the next few months, I will begin a dialogue with you...a multi-part series, if you will, that will cover several aspects of the this topic from varying perspectives. My intent is not to complain, shame, or lay blame – but, rather, to present some realities and from them, collectively and positively more toward the future.

Until then, I welcome your comments, experiences, thoughts, and questions...

The acknowledgement of our weakness is the first step in repairing our
loss.” – Thomas Kempis

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  1. The timing of this series is perfect considering Shirley Sherrod, a black agriculture department employee who was fired in haste due to her misconstrued comments regarding black and white farm workers. I do believe her race had a major part in how this situation was handled. It is ironic that she was fired based on her racist sentiments when folks are allowed to air out racists sentiments blatantly on the air. There was no investigation performed to look further into her remarks or anything. She was fired immediately. If they would have investigated, they would have found that her ending comments were not racist in nature at all. I KNOW that her color had a huge role to play and her situation is not the only situation but it is one in which we all can relate to. I do not pull the racist card at all because I for one believe that we are the only ones who hold ourselves back, but I do not believe in unfair treatment for any human be it black or white. It should not be swept under the rug, but addressed and resolved.

  2. Definitely! I agree, Michelle D. Her race was certainly a major part in that situation. It is particularly ironic that she was fired for giving a speech in which she acknowledged her past racial anxieties, a speech intended to actually help push us forward in terms of resolving racial tensions. I love how they construed it as her bragging about how she screwed over one white guy, when anyone who has read the transcript would know that that is the farthest from the truth. But, as you said, they didn't read the speech.

    Sherrod and her situation is a mirror of white people's fear of President Obama: their deep-seated and ever obvious fear that he, as a black man, will screw over white people in general, just as Sherrod acknowledged that she did (ever so slightly) to one white man. It was like they used her comments to say to themselves, "See! This is what happens when you give a black person a position of power: they will use their authority to destroy the livelihood of (and get back at) all white people. They will only help each other."

    (That last statement--"they will only help each other"--is so wrong, it makes me want to laugh. Sometimes I wish that statement was true. Seriously, all we African-Americans, especially those of us in positions of authority, ever do is help everyone but ourselves or our own people (it seems to me anyway): in fact, maybe if we did a little less helping everyone else and focused on our own people, we'd be a little better off.)

  3. This is exciting. A necessary dialogue for black people to engage in. One topic that comes to mind is fatherlessness and the castration, so to speak, of the black male and breakdown of the black family structure.

  4. @ Michelle - I have heard so many people speak about this story, I am going to have to do my research on it and give my opinion. But, you mentioned a couple of things that piqued my interest: 1) the lack of investigation that was done regarding the incident. Who is at fault for that? Do African Americans minimize their own self worth by not demanding that they be treated fairly? Heck, for ANY race or evenindividual - if you won't stand up for you, who will? 2) You also mentioned the 'race card.' - Is this proof that racism still exists? Some people complain about others 'pulling the race card,' but would that supposed card even be relevant if there weren't still issues that still existed?
    Part of me knows the effects of racism will always linger with all of us, but the other half of me believes it still carries an ugly stench because it has not been acknowledged, nor apologized for.

    @ Miss B - You said: "Sherrod and her situation is a mirror of white people's fear of President Obama: their deep-seated and ever obvious fear that he, as a black man, will screw over white people in general..." Why do you think some white people have this fear? I believe it may stem from the subconscious guilt of slavery. Many people argue that present day blacks and whites were not the ones working in fields and enslaving people (respectively), but STILL - those sentiments and feelings carry through generations in how we treat each other and rear our children.

    @ GLRL - My favorite author, Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu, often speaks of the disastrous breakdown of the black family structure (and also of how it is NO accident). You can definitely see a stark change in 'the way things used to be' to how they are now. Black families used to be a living example of what a COMMUNITY exemplifies...but, now we are focused on the individual, rather than the collective. I happen to think the child support system acts as a way to break down family structures further and keep families apart. Think about it - first of all, the system is a MONEY MAKER (for the government), and does not encourage positive family dynamics...rather it encourages MONEY as a replacement for an absent parent, and only supports ONE parent, instead of the entire family structure. We won't even talk about other systems... right now, at least.

  5. I acknowledge that racism does still exist and will exist even after we have both gone. With each generation, I believe will knock down barriers though. We don't have to fight as hard as our ancestors did, but still yet have to fight. The racism is not as blatant as it once was not meaning it doesn't still exist. People are just not as forthcoming with their prejudices. I DO NOT like when people pull the race card and use it as an excuse not to get ahead. Sure, we as African Americans, Mexicans, and other ethnicities have to fight harder to get ahead;however, we can do it though. We have to continue to knock down the wall of social injustices and inequalities by first acknowledging that they exist. I put a status on my facebook yesterday due to another status I saw, and it simply states, " Until we stop the ignorance amongst ourselves, the ignorance against us will not stop." WE are our own worst enemy and need to learn how to UNITE in order for our cause to be more effective. Regarding Sherrod, the force was against her. She was fired without warning, without time to put up a fight... she did try to tell them to listen to the entire message but when word comes down from the White House that it is okay to go ahead and terminate, that is what it is. Some of us don't put up a fight, but rest assure, Ms. Sherrod is doing so now; and I admire her for not going down quietly. We all need to make noise. We are not the only group of minorities being targetsp; the Mexicans in Arizonia are going through their own battle. They took our place as being slaves. When we woke up and realized we didn't have to work for low wages, the white man came up with a plan to get the Mexicans here now they want them gone. Same thing they done with us, brought us here on slave ships and when the amendemnt was passed that slaves were free, they wanted us to go back to Africa... We are not physically enslaved, but mentally enslaved. Please check out the story and yo

  6. This will be interesting. Many of us have not left the plantation mentally. Physically we are gone, but the mental state is a different ball game.