Before African Americans created the blues and gospel music, work songs and spirituals were their mainstays. The phenomenal history of black survival from the Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade, through chattel slavery, and on to present-day discrimination, is marked by an ability to release repressed emotion. Psychologists call it abreaction.
Churches spring up everywhere in black communities, even right next door to one another. There never seems to be enough of them. They are the safe places, the spiritual places where release can be had, where connection to hope for a better day can be found, where there is deliverance. Sculpture, painting, jazz and theater are all but completely absent in America’s black communities, which deadens them – almost imperceptibly.
And so, the young people create hip hop and break dance, and create a new style of dress, a uniform that distinguishes them as soldiers of another presence, another reality. Young blacks tend to rebuke both black and white residues of slavery – right down to the history, civics, literature, et al, served up five days a week by the mis-educational systems they despise. They don’t want anything to do with “the founding fathers,” the politics of containment or Mark Twain. And to them, so-called black leaders are punks.
As presently situated, black communities (that is, the people within them) will never break the shackles that bind them to an eventual apocalypse. And, like the four horsemen in the biblical story, there are four leading reasons why black people can’t organize to save themselves. They are: fear, ignorance, inertia and a psychology of dependency.
When black people were Negroes, the worst and most common fear was of the white man. On the slave plantation, it was fear of the cat-of-nine-tails – the whip that tore through skin and pain, leaving scars for life. It was the daily fear of being worked to death. And then there was always the next day, the day anyone could be torn away, sold far off to another strange place, to new loneliness and more homesickness.
Emancipation brought Reconstruction and hate: Night riders, public lynching, black codes, poverty, police brutality and the chain gang became staples for black people. But now that Negroes have become black people/African Americans, and while fear of the white man is omnipresent, the greatest fear is of each other, and especially of young black people – males in particular. Trust cannot adhere where there is fear!
The cumulative effect of slavery in the Americas (aside from the development of enormous wealth for white people) is the almost universal development of ignorance among people of color. Skilled enough under “supervision” to build and maintain plantations, railroads, ports and even the White House; to suckle and raise white babies and children; to cook, clean and run white people’s homes, black men, women and children were yet imbued with an inferiority complex.
Black people were flogged or killed before assembled slaves when caught learning or teaching to read and write. Since being allowed access to “education,” however, blacks are thoroughly conditioned to the Anglo-Saxon Priori, the Judeo-Christian Ethic and the Democratic Ideal – what I call white nationalism.
So-called black leaders advance through the ignorance of white nationalism by working in concert with white nationalists – mostly by turning their backs or remaining silent – instead of informing, educating, and organizing black people to change the negative status quo that perpetuates mis-education, poverty, physical and mental health issues, crime and failure.
Slowness to take action on behalf of self and community is inertia. This condition is a result of all I’ve said above. One devastating ramification of this unfortunate reality is the black vote. Civil rights leaders, past and present, still won’t admit the anomaly of persuading southern blacks to defy possible death, maiming, jail and loss of property and employment, to register and vote Democratic during the 1950s and ‘60s civil rights movement. Blacks went to the polls and re-elected the very politicians, the Dixiecrats, who were avid segregationists (white nationalists).
Today, most black voters still vote the Democratic slate in all elections and, as a result, have only tertiary negotiating leverage. In effect, the black vote is taken for granted. However, black leaders who deliver that vote do receive a modicum of compensation. But what if significant numbers of black voters were independent of political parties, while others were both Democratic and Republican?
What I call the politics of containment only works because of a psychology of dependency drilled into the mindset, the psyche. During slavery, the Willie Lynch system of divide and conquer through which blacks were divided from cultures, languages, tribes and families created total submission and dependence on the white man.
He became Master, and will continue to be unless and until black people learn to organize, organize, and organize!