Choices: Part One
Why is it that Black people feel they are exempt from making choices in America? Why are we incapable of realizing that we too are part of our own demise?
I get so tired of listening to all of these Pro-Black, overly conscious Afrikan leaders who are supposedly expert in all things Black who are intently focused on how society ruined Black lives. Thank you for reminding us what slavery has done and how it still impacts us today. Thank you for letting us know how the war on drugs have especially targeted Blacks and minorities. Thank you for filling us in on the fact that Blacks have always been punished more severely than any other race in America. Thank you for the history lessons about unfair interest rates, high incarceration and the huge deficit of wealth between Blacks and the rest of the world. We are all aware now and I agree with the knowledge you have put forth, but my question is, what are we going to do with that knowledge? It reminds me of counselors. They want to know your background to understand the origin of your current behaviors. But what happens after they bring all of that to the surface? It doesn’t change the fact that it happened, they just teach you how to better cope with it. I just want to get to the part where we are healing and better coping with our situation of being Black in America. When will we ever start the cycle to reverse the demise of our people? Because clearly reciting facts, marching, crying, protesting, looting and killing each other out of anger is not the answer. Sure, we make ourselves heard and may stop a bigot from campaigning in our city, but what happens when it’s over? Black people love to hear themselves talk and it’s getting old. Actions and money speak louder than our truths ever will. Once we all agree on this, I’m pretty sure we can start digging ourselves out of poverty and racism.
People are constantly talking about why Blacks are incarcerated at higher rates than any other race. But no one ever admits why we are constantly in the position to be incarcerated in the first place! Am I the only person who is capable of looking inward and realizing our flaws as well as those who have contributed to our lack of success? Every statistic shows that Blacks are targeted because of their skin, killed to a higher degree because of their skin and inhumanely tried in the court of law because of their skin. Our youth are sold into private prisons because they are Black for goodness sake. But we know this yet continue to fall into the same traps. Is it right, absolutely not, but what are we going to do about it? Keep slanging dope so we can get caught and potentially killed by police officers? Do we keep committing petty crimes and robbing people so that we put ourselves in the position to interact with racist, rotten police officers? Should we immediately resort to violence to solve disputes in school which lead us down the pipeline to prison? I mean at some point we have to take responsibility for our actions that place us in the back of police cars. And don’t get me wrong, I am aware that some people are racially profiled for absolutely no reason and shot in the back a kazillion times for running away, but unfortunately, we have to let the law figure that out. At least we don’t have Jim Crow laws preventing justice. I’m also aware that stealing and committing petty crimes should not warrant death, but people need to realize this is not a game! I don’t have a response for why a White dude can turn himself into the police department, get into an altercation with three cops, pull out the cops own gun on them and live to tell the story. Unfortunately, it’s not our reality and our Black selves will be shot and killed. I’m not suggesting we live in fear. I’m also not suggesting we back down and let people walk all over us either. I’m suggesting that we choose to make better decisions so we are not faced with police brutality and our corrupt justice system.
How we represent ourselves matters. Regardless of what people want to say, the way we dress speaks volumes about us until our personalities take over. And no, I’m not suggesting that someone dressed scantily clad is asking to be raped and murdered, I’m just saying that she can’t be mad when someone approaches her for a prostitute job. The same way that someone asks if you work at a store because you have on business attire, it’s just in a more positive setting. I agree that we should not be hated because of our style of dress, but we really need to stop acting surprised when someone is apprehensive based on what we have on. I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this one, but let’s be real for a moment. What is the primary attire we see criminals wearing? Hoodies and baggy clothing. Does that mean that every person who wears hoodies and baggy clothing are criminals and should be harassed? No. It just means they have to understand what their style of dress represents and make sure their personality fills in the blanks. I have read a million stories about our Black men being offended that people lock their car doors and clutch their purses tighter when they walk by. I’m sorry to say this, but so do I when I find myself surrounded by people who do not dress like what I’m used to. For me, it’s not about the color of your skin, it’s about your sagging pants and extra-long White tees that scares me. Have you looked at mug shots on television? What are they wearing? Exactly. The only way to fix this is to dress a little more normal. Why does a guy with a size 32 inch waist need to purchase size 42 inch jeans? Why is wearing baggy clothing even part of our dress code? Why can’t we just dress normal? And by normal, I don’t mean to look like your neighbor Bob, but just wear a decent pair of jeans that fit on your waist without the need of a belt and a normal, clean shirt is all. I hate to say it, but we are Black and unfortunately we have to adhere to standards that a lot of other people don’t. In the meantime, we should raise our own standards because as a people we should want to look better. I’m a firm believer that you look how you feel. So when you are dressed polished, you feel polished and therefore act polished.
Violence. Heavenly spirits please bless our souls. I just learned that my city has the highest Black homicide rates in the entire country! That is absurd. Do you know what’s even more absurd? Over 75% of those homicide crimes are committed by perpetrators who know the victims! And guess what people are murdered for? Disagreements, you got it! Petty arguments, twitter finger wars and facebook debates are what drive our people to kill each other. And yes, I am aware that every other ethnicity on earth kill themselves as well. Statistics show that most people are murdered by their own. Yes, I’m aware that Black on Black crime has become a term to shine even more negativity on our population. However, comma, but! That does not change the fact that Black people are still responsible for the most homicides of our own people. I don’t care what people say, this all goes back to home training or lack thereof I should say. Let’s be real. Too many Black kids are raised by parents who think yelling, hitting, choking, beating and insulting their kids are the best ways to get their point across to their children. Newsflash, it is not. And quite frankly, it is very damaging. Children do not develop proper social skills in that type of environment and next thing you know they are spitting on little Timmy in kindergarten because he won’t pass the basketball at recess. Next time they are slapping a little girl for rejecting him. And when they are put in jail for domestic abuse, all the Black people will scream free my dude Roscoe from the 401 block without realizing what Roscoe did to get behind bars in the first place. Let me guess, it was the White man’s fault right? The way Roscoe’s mother raised him is all White people’s fault, right? No, I beg to differ. We have got to do better! But how can we be better parents when statistics show Black students are the most promiscuous children and Black women have the most teenage pregnancies (and abortions)? Our children are having children. I hate to say it but some people are receptive of their motherly instincts when they have children and some people are selfish, leaving their toddlers home alone to go see Lil Boosie in concert. These are the type of people who are raising our future generations. Young, Black kids who can barely take care of themselves let alone an infant baby.
And then there is the lack of family units and fathers. When Black people realize how important family is, perhaps we will value it more before we have kids to stay on welfare or because we simply like to screw without protection. I’m just being real because I’m sick of this crap. Even Kevin Gates went on a rant about Black families. He was like when will it be cool to get married and have children like it is to cheat on your girlfriend and knock up hoes? We need our families for support, to build wealth, to become our business partners, for guidance, help, positive nurturing and love. We need to think about our family dynamics when we bring kids into this world. They deserve more than one parent. Because regardless of how great people think single mothers and fathers are, two is always better than one in that scenario. It means more income, more money for extracurricular opportunities, financial stability to support the family and less stress which can mean less anger and depression for the family. A two-parent home allows children to experience the behaviors of both man and woman. More than likely, the father is the disciplinarian in the home and well, if he’s absent, the children are not getting that side of parenting. Children need to be disciplined and taught to respect authority regardless of how they feel about them. But too many of our children today are mouthy, violent and disrespectful because they think it’s cute and cool to curse out their parents, adults and teachers. Like motivational speaker Eric Thomas said to his crowd, the most disrespectful kids he comes across are Black kids. I can attest to that when I mentor. The question we must ask is why do we think those behaviors are cool? Why is it called “acting White” when someone speaks proper, smiles and express polite gestures? Because as I have mentioned before in a previous blog, we truly need to be careful of what we consider White and Black behaviors. If acting good is a White thing, then what does acting Black mean? Can we please change this horrible description of ourselves? We can do this by altering the behaviors each of us displays.
We have to look at the other side of these cases that result in a Black person being killed. We have to understand that there are some cops who are waiting to write a ticket, pull someone over or reprimand someone simply because they possess the power to do so and it’s not always about their color. Like my girl told me one day, some cops try to provoke you to have an attitude and do something silly just so they have a reason to arrest you. Is it right? No, but they have a badge and can do whatever they want apparently. So when we get pulled over, it’s probably not the best idea to teach our children to respond like Sandra Bland. When you put respect above all, you learn to respect someone regardless of how you feel and that seems to be a concept a lot of our kids just don’t understand. Is your life worth you having the last word or making someone realize how tough you are? No, it’s not worth it. Stop fighting with cops. Stop talking back. I’m sorry if a little White girl can call a cop out of his name and live to tell the story, but us Black folks don’t have that luxury. I don’t do the best with cops myself, but I would never disrespect them and curse them out because I now know it won’t get me anywhere at all. Cops are not always right and sometimes they put us in terrible situations, but we must not focus on the situation and instead be concerned with how we handle it. A Black man once told me a story about the time he got handcuffed in front of his own home in his own yard. Cops were patrolling his neighborhood looking for a suspect. Of course being a Black man, he fit the description. The cops were rude and disrespectful to him, but he never allowed them to change his character one time. Instead of retaliating to the cop’s ignorance that day, he was able to get off the pavement and walk back inside of his home. In the end he won because the cops assumed he was trespassing, but unbeknownst to them, he was a Black man who owned and maintained a 4-bedroom home by himself. His level of success pissed the cops off more than his attitude. Sometimes we can show people better than we can tell them. I aspire to be more like this Black man because we need to stop allowing our mouths to be the death of us.
As Black people, our priorities are truly twisted. We need to change how we operate in America. Don’t get me wrong, systematic oppression is real and the effects have been devastating to our people. But I guess I just came to the conclusion that I have to accept the lemons that were handed to me. We can continue living sour and breeding sour into our lives or we can turn those sour lemons into lemonade and pass it off to our offspring so their lives are a little bit sweeter. The American dream is not a fictional concept. We are all capable of achieving success regardless of where we came from by making better decisions in our lives. Not every successful person was spoon-fed with silver and gold, some simply decided to change their environment, and it wasn’t easy, it took hard work and dedication. If you are a poor child living in poverty, you should not aspire to continue living in poverty nor does poverty have to be your destiny. We have to be honest and admit that there are some people who want to work at McDonald’s while others desire to own it; it’s all about your individual mentality. Mind over matter. So while we love to talk about our setbacks, we have to realize there are a lot of people who enjoy living their mediocre lives. It takes a lot of effort to study in school, make good grades, work for an honest living and dedicate time to our education or enhance our skills to learn a trade. We have to be willing to put in the work. Nothing worth having comes easy. We have to fight for it. But don’t ever let someone tell you that you don’t have a choice because you grew up poor or are plagued with being Black. You can do whatever you put your mind to and I am living proof of that. I can honestly say that I am not discriminated against regardless of my Black skin and natural hair. I do not allow my Blackness to hold me down. I don’t act like a color or treat people per their color. I act like a civilized human being who makes mistakes just like everyone else.