The Death of Black America

September 16, 2007

Despite the many riches that blacks have attained in America and despite the growth of black people becoming top executives and obtaining advanced degrees, black America and black causes are becoming a vanishing minority. The travesty of it all is that we are responsible for our own unraveling. There are two facets to our demise. The first is mentioned in my article on illegal immigration and gay rights below so I will not delve into that here. I will instead focus more on the second facet of my theory—the willing cooperation of black America in its own destruction.

The first aspect is the way in which blacks in America are still under attack, yet our stories seem to only garner attention when tied to other causes. For example, who can forget (well, most of us have), the case of the 3 black college students who were murdered execution-style in Newark, New Jersey? Did anyone notice that it was almost 48 hours before the story made national headlines? Does anyone know why? The reason is that whether they were college students or not, it was just another case of inner-city crime until it was discovered that there was an illegal alien allegedly who was one of the killers. Once this news was discovered, Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly and others could not keep their hands off the story. So black America indirectly found its way to support someone else’s cause with no direct benefit for our own.

If you think I am stretching this argument too much, let me ask you this: does anyone know the names of the students who were killed? Not likely. We did see their faces on occasion. Their names (if anyone cares) were Terrance Aerial, Iofemi Hightower, and Dashon Harvey. Terrance’s sister Natasha fortunately survived the attack. As black Americans, we should have been outraged that our children were being used by others to advance an unrelated cause but we were silent and have not reached out en masse to assist these families.

It is sad that events like these keep occurring in black America. The fact of the matter is that black Americans en masse would rather defend Michael Vick than the Jena Six. Everyone from Jamie Foxx to Whoopi Goldberg has come out in support of Vick but our celebrities are relatively silent on the aforementioned issues. Where are these celebrities on issues such as the Jena 6 or Megan Williams’ rape by a white mob just this month? I am not asking that celebrities become the champions of civil rights causes. I am just annoyed at the causes they choose to open their mouths for. Many of them build their careers on black support force and then forget us, highlighted by Beyoncé’s recent confession that she wishes she was Latina because they have a richer culture.

But here is where it gets troubling and actually quite sickening. Despite the fact that there are Latino gangs that lists killing a black person as initiation (reminiscent of white boys during slavery who had to rape a black girl as a rites of passage); despite the fact that members of armies in places like Germany are being told to think of black men when they shoot; despite the fact that some of “our” celebrities hate the skin they’re in; and despite the fact that white people are still hanging nooses and gang-raping our women, I am still more likely to be killed by a black person than anyone else where I live in inner-city Washington, DC. Despite the work some of us do in prisons, where the majority of the black inmates are incarcerated for assault, murder and drug possession, I am still going to turn on the TV and see black men promoting the sale of drugs and promoting violence and murder. I am still going to see artists get signed because of their street credit instead of their college credit (unless they dropped out) and many young black girls and boys lose their lives following their example.

Some of us are quick to say that it’s white folks at the top of the movie industry and record companies that are responsible for this. That was true a decade ago but now as people like Jay-Z and Diddy rise the corporate ladder, they bear much of the responsibility as well, at least as it relates to who gets discovered. Despite Viacom’s BET purchase, there are still black people working there at every level so I will not blame Viacom for the creation of shows like “College Hill” or “We got to do Better.” This is the same company whose mission statement is to showcase the “culture, genius, beauty, and talent of the black race.” BET founder Bob Johnson stated that he’s a businessman, not a social worker and has nothing to apologize for because he created more black millionaires than anyone. So kids who watch TV without supervision get one message: get money no matter if it’s at the expense of your own people.

In the eighties and early nineties, BET had shows like “Teen Summit” and even a few news shows like “BET Tonight” with Tavis Smiley. Bill Cosby used his media influence to create shows like “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.” Though we have made more advances financially in the last 20 years, publicly we have basically gone from “A Different World” to “College Hill” and from “Soul Train” to “Soul Plane.” There are black graduates of predominately white colleges as well as HBCUs behind these types of programs, movies like Soul Plane and music videos. Despite their degrees and our financial advances, we still cannot manage to have one 30-minute television show on the air devoted to news affecting us in 2007.

This is why we are disappearing. We are killing ourselves locally and promoting degrading stereotypes internationally. We are in charge of our image now. When I look at many blacks in movies and videos I sometimes feel like I’m watching the scene from “Birth of a Nation” where white folks in black face are eating watermelon and chicken in the White House. Someone once said to me when I was in high school that if blacks were in power, we would still be suffering the same ills as we were in the Reconstruction Era and beyond. I thought it was funny. But now we’re getting power and I see black-on-black crime (lynching), women being paraded as sex kittens and breeders (slavery) and blacks acting as buffoons in the media (minstrel shows). With the exception of our en masse reactionary activism on issues like the Jena 6 and Hurricane Katrina, it appears that there are no more black causes, just black people. Just darker-skinned Americans, particularly as our issues have been swept under the category of class rather than race. How convenient. I know we have some nicer houses and cars now, but even Stepin’ Fetchit became a millionaire so how far have we really come? More importantly, where are we going?

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