In honor of Black History Month, it seems necessary to review where we are going in addition to where we have been. Black people, we have got to do better. These are my top inter-culture crimes we should do all we can to continue to avoid in 2009.
Broke vs. Bougie
Integration, with all of its promises of equality, has decimated black on black relations; most notably in terms of classism. It seems, once people of color move on up to the “eastside”, they completely forget about those they left back in the bricks. Classism is a big problem among African-American communities. Many of us are so eager to “be accepted” as equals that we are real quick to forget where we came from. What’s even worse is that once many of us are granted access to this imaginary society of success, we are even more resistant to lend a hand back and pull someone else up.
Bill Cosby’s comments back in 2004 in which he stated, “the lower economic people are not holding up their end,” failed to acknowledge that these same lower economic people are the ones forced into failing schools, victims of police brutality and harassment, and often times lack the role models and access to information, that would allow them to change or improve their situations. Everyone from Roland Martin, Tavis Smiley to Stanley Crouch applauded the Cos’ efforts to berate the least of us.
My question is why must there be a least? Why are all the people with money so ready to criticize the people who have none? Knowing all of the hardships that plague Blacks in America, where is the outreach to make a difference in that “lower economic” persons life so maybe they can be the catalyst to move their family toward a new direction.
Furthermore, I think it’s unfair to assume everyone who comes from the ghetto, is ghetto. As poorly written as it was, Cora Daniels’ GhettoNation is an excellent example. In her book, Daniels attempt to show that we are all ghetto, citing Paris Hilton, Elizabeth Hurley, Gwyneth Paltrow and herself as illustrations. What she doesn’t explore is the very legitimate ghetto mentality and how some people are just happy being hood. Ignorance is ignorance, but never is poverty an automatic indicator of such. Is it a crime if you don’t aspire to be a doctor, or a lawyer or President of the United States?
Going forward good people, I hope we are quicker to give a helping hand than a verbal insult. This has less to do with not being accountable for our shortcomings as African-Americans and is more about opting not to look down our nose at our own, when they don’t live up to our expectation of what we think an African-American should be.
Speaking of accountability let’s stop giving our athletes and entertainers a free pass. Numerous instances of sexual and domestic violence from these figures occur with impunity. The latest example of this in action: Chris Brown. I don’t care if Rihanna is crazy, gave him herpes, or whatever the story is now. The Chris Brown storyline is a clear indication that while only 19, Chris Brown still thought it was appropriate to assault a woman. What is worse is the entertainment community is validating him. All over the Internet, he is being defended and Rihanna is being blamed. I know neither of these people; I cannot shed any exact details on their particular situation. What I do know is a culture of abuse against women is damn near the point of veneration in sports and hip-hop and our media stands idly by. This encounter should have served as add the authentic culture of abuse toward women that exists in this country to our national conversation. Chris Brown, you need Jesus.
Lastly, after the Sleeping With Your Colonizer article, some really good sub-topics jumped off, like a blatant refusal on the behalf of brothers to date sisters who were natural or didn’t ascribe to a media induced image of beauty. My feelings on this topic are two-fold. Brothers, yes, you should stop cringing when you see a woman rocking her natural and normal hair, hair that isn’t long enough for you to pull, or no hair at all. Yet ladies, let’s say no to weave this year. Tell yourself that you love yourself and the hair that grows out of your head is good enough for you. In worsening economic times, being natural is less expensive, and says you’re not ashamed of your God given beauty. More so, women in other countries are having their hair stolen right off their heads so you can rock a ponytail. The first step in getting men to realize the beauty in our naturalness, is accepting as truth for ourselves first.