When we were slaves, the master used to have us fight one another for his enjoyment, sporting events and for betting purposes. We were told that our people were worthless and therefore deserving of death. We were brainwashed to debase and devalue our own kind. When redlining and white flight( which are illegal but still happens…it’s just cleverly hidden ) were put into practice, we had no other choice but to live in the ghettos. With a poor educational system and no prospects of jobs or betterment, we did the unthinkable; we turned against ourselves. Gangs were formed out of the need for family and power, drugs were peddled to babies( they were manufactured by wealthy, white men to be sold to inner city blacks and Hispanics but that’s another post )women were beaten up by the disenfranchised husband who couldn’t find work and essentially, the streets ran red with blood. We hated each other. We couldn’t understand the crux of the “problem with no name” so we blamed our brethren. Why does this matter in modern-day AmeriKlan?
Because after all this time, after all the books and talk shows, after all the schooling and degrees, the black race remains a race plagued with: crime, drugs, poor health conditions( a post coming soon ), gang-related shootings and most important, self-hate. Many will read this post and claim that we are the way we are because we have an intrinsic affinity for violence, drugs, rape and self-destruction. “But, but….what about the many immigrants who come here and start over with no problem? Why can’t you people do the same?”
Because the many immigrants that came here and continue to come here do so of their own FREE WILL. That is very different than being forced to bend against your will. Did I ever tell you that I traveled extensively? Well, I did. I’ve met and befriended a lot of people from all walks of life. Some good, decent and hardworking and some…well, bad. I met a young, black man once, a prisoner, in fact. He was out on parole. He was a tall, good-looking, strapping youngster who got caught up in the system. I questioned him honestly about why he ended up in prison, why he made those choices and if he could, would he take them back.
He looked at me with serious and intelligent, soulful, brown eyes and spoke with amazing clarity. He said, “When you live like an animal with no hopes of tomorrow, anything seems better than the situation you’ve got.” My heart jumped. I understood that better than he realized. He spoke of having no dad, his was in prison. He spoke of the uselessness of education, they won’t hire him anyway. He spoke of the usefulness of gangs, they provide you with a family to lean on, support, respect and power. He spoke of his dream to be an engineer but he had no money for school. And besides, selling marijuana on the streets required no education( street smarts is a different kind of education ), no application to remind him of his failings, no embarrassment and anxiety and no feelings of sadness when he wrote down the address of the broken-down building he lived in.
I listened intently. I wanted to understand why we turned on each other and why they felt it was “necessary” to do so. I tried that old argument that I’ve heard my whole life, “If you’d only tried harder, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” But he did try. He told me of the warehouse job that paid 9.00 an hour from which he was the first to be laid off. Apparently, blacks seem to be last hired, first fired/laid off. He told me that “something is happening here”. Something that sets black men, especially black men, up for imminent failure.
Turning to a life of crime seems “easier”. Hmmmmm…..I tried to think objectively of my own life as a black woman. I felt the coldness and the racist attitudes of corporate America my whole life. I take only on-line studies now. Classroom discussions were uncomfortable for many factors; my speech and ability to debate on “their level” being one of them. Then there’s the actual job, which I liken to the Jungle; Eat or be eaten. And finally, my entire life in brown skin…Yes, I can see why we turn on each other. I don’t condone it. I don’t practice it…I love my people.
But I understand.