Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Reality Check: African-Americans STILL Need To Have Racial Discipline In the Obama Era
Emmett Till before and after his trip down South. A reader mentioned the following news story during a recent conversation:
I said the following in response:
RESPONSE: I remember how furious I was as an undergrad when other Black students and I were singled out by campus security to have our backpacks searched as we left the libraries, etc. However...my friends and I did NOT associate with criminals. Now that I think about it, we didn't even associate with people who weren't also college students. We did NOT associate with anybody who had friends/relatives that were gang-involved, etc. We quietly excluded losers from our social circles.
We also didn't dress like hip-hop video criminals. Our range of clothing styles were basically the same as those among the White students at the time. From preppy to punk to new wave to grunge to the "standard uniform" of jeans and a t-shirt/blouse/Izod. A couple of things stand out to me about this unfortunate tale:
(1) The invented, ghetto names (including of the BF student who's whining).
(2) The access (key card) that another (BF) student apparently granted to a killer.
(3) The apparent ABC self-presentation of the whining BF student: "The honest answer to that is that I'm black and I'm poor and I'm from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way," she said." Really now, who wants to go to an Ivy League school to encounter ghetto bums? Who wants to be bothered with that?
(4) I would really be surprised if the "songwriter"-murder suspect is actually a songwriter and not an aspiring rapper. The reporter might have said "songwriter" out of political correctness.
As Evia has repeatedly pointed out, non-Blacks have a hard time telling us (normal, "survive and thrive" Black folks) from the "acting Black" mutants. I don't care about Harvard giving Miss Chenequa the boot. Good riddance to what sounds like bad trash. And maybe other "Sheniquas" will learn to STOP bringing ghetto trash onto that campus. That is, if they want to remain enrolled in Harvard.
I don't have much more to say about these sorts of news stories. There's very little left to say that hasn't already been said. These stories will continue to multiply unless and until WE change the cultural atmosphere that surrounds our children."
This incident brings up something that I touched upon during a comment to an earlier post. I said:
"It's too long for me to get into at length, but here's another example of what I mean by this. Non-AAs are often mystified by our current knee-jerk response of supporting Black criminals.
What non-AAs often don't understand (because they did not live through it) are the historical experiences that created these responses. Things like the Scottsboro boys, Emmett Till, other lynchings and Rosa Parks. These things are stories in history books for non-AAs. By contrast, these events are part of the LIVING MEMORY of my older relatives.
My paternal grandfather escaped a lynching because he looked White. That's why he ran away from the South. My friend's grandfather founded the Chicago church where Emmett Till's funeral was held. Emmett Till's funeral was a big deal, and a common, shared point of reference.
In terms of my living memory, the parents of most AAs in my age group (40s) made a POINT of showing us old pictures of what Emmett Till looked like in his open casket when we were around 11-12 years old. And, so did our teachers, for those of us who went to Black grammar schools/junior high schools.
They did this so that we could truly understand what lynching meant. Almost every AA I know in my age group saw that horrible picture as a pre-teen or young teenager."
As a result of the photos and the explanations surrounding them, most African-Americans in my age group and older were not naive about the potentially deadly consequences of wandering into unknown, non-Black residential areas. This horrible picture of Emmett Till was worth more than a thousand words about carefree wandering into certain places.
We were also not naive about the potential consequences of any of us "showing out" on a White campus, in a White workplace, in a majority White residential area, or any other White setting.
Our parents and other relatives drummed into our heads the message that if we "clowned" and did something inappropriate in a White setting, our actions would have consequences not just for us as individuals. But also for every African-American person that came to that particular setting after us. We were exhorted and raised to not be the Black person who screws things up for every Black person who comes behind us. This was one example of racial discipline.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, my generation of African-Americans failed to communicate this message to our children. That's why there are African-Americans (like the foolish Black female college student interviewed in this story) who are shocked that there's a backlash splashing onto them when other Blacks do inappropriate things.
Many of us want to believe that those days are over; and we're living in a post-racial country. Well . . . on some levels, yes. On others levels, NO. We need to snap out of our Obama-induced delirium and understand that we're still perceived in a category separate, apart and inferior from everybody else.
As I've mentioned before, everybody except African-Americans is in the process of becoming perceived as White. I see this in the police reports and government forms that I work with everyday. Unless somebody is blue-black in color and without a single strand of hair that could be called wavy, they are classified as "White" on these forms. This includes deep-brown East Indians. This includes Black Arabs. This includes deep-brown, Indian Latinos. This includes everybody except African-Americans.
One benefit of being perceived as either White or sort-of White, is the ability to access portions of White privilege. This is why a Korean student at Virgina Tech could kill over 30 people on campus without his actions leading to a pogrom against Korean or Asian students on White campuses. This does not apply to us. Anything any one of us does will most likely be held against the rest of us.
Just like before the Obama era. We still have a need for racial discipline.
*Note* Here's an excellent blog post about the importance of "understanding where you are."http://www.groupnewsblog.net/2007/09/do-you-understand-where-you-are.html