When Will the Black Community Recognize that We Can’t Whine Cancer Out of Our System?
I was recently involved in a "discussion" regarding the prison industrial complex with an extremely intelligent young woman by the name of Lydia. I placed the word discussion in quotes because the moment she started quoting me the statistics on the Black experience with the prison industrial complex relative to the rest of society, I began to overtalk her, and I didn’t let her get a word in edgewise. But thanks to her cool head and grace under fire, after our discussion I immediately began to question my behavior. The fact is, even though she didn’t get to say much, she outclassed me, and as a result, I’ve decided to never use that strategy again, because it’s not only rude, but it’s counterproductive. Since neither party is listening to the other, no useful information can be exchanged.
But what set me off was that I’m so sick of hearing people in the Black community substituting complaints for solutions that when I hear people starting to slip into that forty year-old mantra it immediately makes my eyes roll to the back of my head. Why constantly state the obvious as though you’re saying something new? Constantly giving statistics on the fact that there’s institutional racism is like trying to prove to that the Sun is hot. We know that. So what we should be discussing is what we’re going to do about it. But then, maybe that’s where she was headed and I didn’t give her a chance to express herself. So what I should have done was sat quietly and heard her out, then maybe I could have walked away from the discussion more informed.
In the future I intend to do just that. Not only would it provide me with the possible opportunity for growth, it would also force those who thrive on muddled communication and making a living off of anger and complaints to have to come up with rational solutions for change. But many like myself have become impatient, because so many in the Black community have been listening to people like Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and others of their ilk for so many decades that they’ve begun to confuse whining, beggin' and finger-pointing with educating the Black community to the need of taking effective action.
People like Malcolm and Martin Luther King - those sincere activists who these latter day ‘saviors’ are trying to impersonate - weren’t just complaining for the sake of complaining. During their era, pointing out the abuse of the Black community was a part of the educational process. During their time, Black people were so use to being abused that Malcolm and Martin had to educate the community, and society as a whole, to the extent of their abuse as a prelude to taking effective action against it. And back then, that educational effort was a dangerous process, as their eventual murders will clearly attest.