ABOVE PHOTO: Forty3Zero / Shutterstock.com
By Rahim Islam
Philadelphia Community of Leaders
In America, White people and especially Black people, can’t let the American institution of slavery and the crimes committed against Black people ever be forgotten, for only in remembrance can America fulfill its great promise to humanity.
Let s be real and tell the truth. Yes, Black Americans are a sick people! However, Black people are not inherently or genetically sick, they were made sick by an even sicker people, the ancestors of today’s White people (i.e. White slave masters and a silent White populace). Just like Germans who stood silent as Hitler and his Nazi regime perpetrated the Holocaust, Whites are guilty for what was done to Black people during a period of nearly 350 years of slavery, even if they didn’t participate themselves.
Today, White America enjoys an extreme level of advantage and privilege procured by the enslavement and subhuman treatment of Black people WITHOUT ANY COMPENSATION. Remember, our Black ancestors were not guilty of any crime. They were neither casualties of war, nor were there escape routes for slavery. Yet, unspeakable acts were committed by so-called Christians and condoned by the Christian church. (I will discuss this religious hypocrisy in another article).
Millions of our Black ancestors were forced and/or born into slavery with no way out (millions of Black people died in slavery). The brutality, barbaric conditions, and organized torturing of our ancestors represented some of the sickest and darkest imaginations of the mind. The work of 1,000 horror writers doesn’t come close the horrific story of slavery and the treatment endured by Black people during this period and for nearly 75 years thereafter. The impact and effects of slavery in America, by far the worst and most prolonged barbaric treatment of human beings in modern history, still exist to this day. Did this happen without casualties? No. When a mass shooting takes place in one of our cities, America responds with a whole host of psychological support and treatment for the survivors, while acknowledging that the damage caused by this single event could/would have a traumatizing impact on the family and community of the victims for years to come. Using this reasoning, how do you handle the psychological damage that impacted tens of millions of Black people over a period of 300 years? Black people have been severely damaged.
While America doesn’t force its African American population into servitude today, Blacks continue to be traumatized. Unless diagnosed and treated, many of the ills of Black people will continue or get worse. The diagnosis is the psychological effects of slavery and the treatment is a comprehensive deprogramming of Black people. Because they don’t understand what is happening to them, and our compassionate nature sometimes doesn’t allow us to comprehend this type of threat, Black people often self-medicate to deal with the daily traumas they suffer.
Even the most liberated Black man or woman has deep-seated fears and insecurities and carries this burden. How else can you explain our collective paralysis? Despite the individual accomplishments by Black people, we are collectively at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and without purposeful and real conversations that define what the core problems are, Blacks will become a permanent underclass in America.
Over the past 60 years, since the formal removal of segregation, even though Blacks are more segregated now than ever before, we have watched Black people move into all White neighborhoods and within a few years, all of the Whites move out. This phenomenon has been an economic boom for the real estate community, not only creating new suburbs around many urban cities, but now we have the resurgence and influx of White people coming back into the very cities and neighborhoods that they left through gentrification. As a child, I remember moving on to a block where I would later learn that our family was the third Black family to live on this block. This once all-White neighborhood became all Black in only three years. This has happened all over the country. Generally speaking, there are many White people who don’t want to live with Black people and the acceptance of physical integration was an illusion.
The true integration was that of the Black economy. I can tell you that many Blacks romanticize about the days pre-integration when Black people owned their own stores and there was a general sense that they had more control over their own destiny. During segregation, Blacks owned hotels, insurance companies, banks, grocery stores, clothing stores, and furniture stores. During this same period, segregated Black schools with Black teachers and administrators produced a better product than today’s public schools.
While I m not advocating having laws, systems, and institutions that discriminate against Black people (these fights were justified), I, like many other Black people, feel the same way that many whites do when they say ‘I want to live with my own people’. If most Blacks also feel this way, then we need to understand what happened and why we fled our own neighborhoods to live in places where we weren’t even wanted.
One of the vestiges of slavery is that Blacks love others more than they love themselves. This accounts for why Black people would flee their own neighborhoods to go live in neighborhoods where it is made clear that they’re not wanted. Blacks were made to love white people and some, especially those who were more economically mobile, were severely bitten by White supremacy and Black inferiority. Those that were most economically mobile were our so-called elite and therefore have fallen for the illusion of integration more than most Blacks and because they were our leaders they made integration the mantra for the Black community. They, in many cases, define White neighborhoods as good and Black neighborhoods as inferior.
Sure, our communities are not perfect, not by a long shot. I ask you how Black communities would ever improve if the most economically mobile move out, leaving the community poorer and without economic and human resources. Today, too many of our communities are extremely poor and Blacks who have achieved some level of wealth now live in White communities. I know that the educated Black person is saying I’m educated, and I have two doctorate degrees from Harvard, Princeton, and/or Yale. I’m doing my own thing. I know what I like and what I don’t like and no one controls my mind.’ I ask you, what have these universities really taught you? Did they restore the knowledge that was taken from you? Did they teach you of the horrors perpetuated on your ancestors by them? Did they teach you about the tricks and lies of racism? Did they break down the structural racism, discrimination, and bias and how to abolish it? NO! Your great American universities taught you how to assimilate and to get out of the ghetto. They taught you how to run from your people; how to get ahead of other Blacks, but never whites; how to uphold and emulate the systems that wreak havoc on the Black man on a daily basis, and how to love White people and hate yourself.
For the most part, these schools taught Blacks how not to use the power on loan to help your own people especially to advance Black self-determination. If given a chance, we know that Black people can compete and win. For the most part, you’re at these universities that help to perpetuate the illusion of the ‘American dream’ for everyone and believe that we live in a post-racial society and you, unlike millions of your Black people who are just lazy and looking for a handout, choose to work hard. The benefit for working hard is that you get to be with White people. If you’re honest, Mr. Black Elite and tell the world what your real experiences are and how you are really treated, both in school and out, you’re reminded daily that you are Black and how vicious and stinging racism is, or maybe you re just too dumb to even notice it. The great Carter G. Woodson said that the Black man in America hasn’t been truly educated and/or empowered; he has been miseducated to love White people and to deplore his own.
Today at 57, I must diligently and constantly be on guard against acting on my own ‘learned’ black inferiorities. This is why I’ve personally abolished the N-word. The N-word was created during our enslavement by the slave owners. The word was used to demean and dehumanize our Blacks and it is associated with the perception that Blacks were inferior, lazy, ugly, and subhuman. When I hear how people use the word as a term of endearment, it’s very clear to me that they have bought in entirely to Black inferiority. To combat a lifetime of learned inferiority, I need a strong and positive Black filter that I’m able to funnel my thoughts through. It is hard for many White people to understand how pervasive White supremacy and Black inferiority is and it is communicated throughout every known medium. It’s extremely suffocating, it’s everywhere and most importantly, it is thoroughly engrained within Black culture. THE BLACK FILTER CAN ONLY GROW THROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF SELF, SO IF YOURE NOT STUDYING FROM OUR GREAT BLACK LEADERS, TEACHERS, AND RESISTORS, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO BUILD THE FILTER NEEDED TO INTERNALLY FIGHT THE MASSIVE PROPOGANDA OF BLACK INFERIORITY AND WHITE SUPREMACY.
What is your belief Black Man? Can we challenge the conditions facing Black people in America? If you answered no, you’ve been poisoned by Black inferiority and White supremacy and trust me, it’s not your fault. If you answered yes, but can’t point to any tangible proof that you are doing anything about it, you too have been poisoned. Many of you talk about Black power but don’t have a Black conscious and therefore, you do nothing about it. What are you waiting for? For the truly conscious Black man knows that no one will do for the Black man but the Black man.
The question still remains whom is oppressing the Black man today? From 1500 through nearly 1970, it was clearly the White slave owners, a White government; and a number of White-controlled institutions. In addition to the structural and systems that discriminate against Black people, poverty and all of its derivatives is the oppressor of Black people. Access to capital and quality education are key factors to combating poverty, but securing this for poor people is extremely difficult and almost impossible given the structural nature of both. Capital resources and access to a quality education are key factors that predestined the Black community to becoming a permanent underclass trapped in poverty unless Blacks break this cycle.
In part one of this article, I tried to zero in on Malcolm X’s contention that ‘the oppressor will never feel the pain of the oppressed.’ Will the children of the oppressor ever feel the pain of the children of the oppressed? Also, today who are the oppressors? The Black man in America is most definitely being oppressed, and while there is no chattel enslavement and its barbaric treatment of Black people nor no Jim Crow laws and the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, we now have institutions that are oppressive to Black people. These institutions are colorblind and exist to perpetuate themselves. They don’t have the capacity to distinguish those that are unable to meet the threshold of criteria mandated by them, which will allow them to participate. This is why in the 60s during the Civil Rights era, in an effort to address the overwhelming disparities that these institutions help to create, many Affirmative Action programs were created for Black people. It was generally understood that slavery put Black people behind the proverbial eight ball and made them unable to compete with White people. The guidelines were too high to achieve for many Black people and unless something like Affirmative Action was enacted, these systems would continue to lock out Black people on a structural level.