The Unfinished Community Building in Black America
Phrases like “It takes a village to raise a child” are often used as a metaphor for old school neighborhoods, how our black ancestors lived, and a romanticized past that many want back.
In 2016, sometimes the village/community phrase feels like a cliché for African America. It's not to say this can’t be done but two questions must be answered for our first-class status as a Village to emerge. 1. Does African America know what we deserve that we do not have (jobs, police profiling, gentrification changes, etc)? 2. How unified are we towards the answer to question number one and how do we get it?
Building community takes time, patience, and knowledge that activism in this effort is to invest in the children who are not born yet. It is not for today’s community builders to benefit from anything other than knowing the virtues of commitment. Like saving for that rainy day, daily action as individuals, with family, friends, and in your colleagues must be an investment in question number one's answer.
We must revisit our leaders in many areas, churches, businesses, politicians, and others. One difficulty here is living in the age of Internet Technology and the unregulated court of public opinion. Laced with almost unrelenting media influence honest representation of who we were to objectively see if who we are matches is difficult. Popular culture still offers whiteness as the best place to be regardless of subject matter and individuality first and foremost ahead of the community. Though honored, most heroes of the 20th-century civil rights movement are also viewed as old fashion. Oddly death by assassination seems to have fallen into the valueless abyss of how lives’ lost in a video game or Smartphone app are turned on & off. Maybe ‘truth be told too many Millennia’s fear carrying the baton of black pride from Malcolm or Martin because they died for confronting the system.
Yet the glass of community building is not half empty. James Baldwin wrote in 1955: "All over (America), Negro boys and girls are growing into stunted maturity, trying desperately to find a place to stand, and the wonder is not that so many are ruined--but that so many survive!"
As an educational consultant, I come in contact with middle, high school, and college youth weekly. Many young blacks are an inspiration to me in many ways and I hope that my work with the Registry shared with them is unifying their souls a bit. Yet those two questions must be discussed a lot.
1. African America can spot on implicating white privilege and systemic barriers for lack of opportunity, however, if they were eradicated then what?
- Are we unified enough to repair the village from within, remember who we are, and rebuild? The implicit bias and downright hatred of blacks by some whites do not change if you have fame, wealth, or are secure. Sadly despite laws changed, we are still pathological niggers in the hearts of many whites.
Plus some of us have adopted this racism internally and do our village and one another harm as a result. One cannot legislate morality and if we unconsciously still only know how to take care of the master, then we must revisit why we don’t do a better job of taking care of ourselves.
Funkadelic lyrics (old school music) mention, “free your mind and your ass will follow, the kingdom of heaven is within.” We’ve learned many bad habits from servitude through slavery and Jim Crow, drinking much of that kool-aide we often talk about. Since they brought us here, American whites have never given blacks (slaves or citizens) anything without conflict.
From emancipation, which was based on property seizure after the American civil war, they continue attempting to roll back the laws many of us died for in the ’50s and ’60s. And sadly aside from police killings of black men and women, national homicide stats show that many of us are doing our work for them. Community building in black America is alive; I see it every day with interns and volunteers that the Registry works with. There are often news stories spotlighting snapshots of the village growth amid the systemic oppression of everyday black life in white America. Understanding the effort for our children not yet born builds a stronger village and grows the tangible results and happiness from our souls. Published in April 2016
by B. Mchie