I’ve never seen or read the story Animal Farm by George Orwell. But it’s my understanding it’s the story about how farm animals are able to develop a community void of oppressive humans and how the pigs became the new oppressors of the farm. The pigs took on the most repulsive and oppressive characteristics of humans and actually became more human than anyone thought possible. In the vacuum left by the humans the pigs became humans. The moral of the story could be summarized to say that a community should have vigilance lest the absence of an oppressor could lead to an opportunity for someone or some group with a concealed desire for control or a latent superiority complex to become the oppressor.
There is a belief by some people that if the black community would simply take over the management of our more critical community resources such as schools, police, government, hospitals, and etcetera, then we would take a giant step in the right direction for retaking control of our destiny. It is natural to think that someone who shares our community values would share our community goals. However, problems come into play when people in the black community assume that just because someone shares our skin color that they would then share black community values and therefore share black community goals.
I am reminded of this phenomenon several times a day on a regular basis. The number of black people who vigorously support the status quo that maintains the disparity between the dominant community and the black community appears to grow exponentially on a daily basis. Black people who claim to have a love of self and of the black community are quick to abandon black people at the drop of a hat.
One concrete example of this phenomenon are the number of black people who say that they are proud of their brown skin but they just so happen to fall in love with a white person. In itself there is nothing wrong with dating or marrying a white person. But it is interesting to note that these black people refer to themselves as brown skinned but don’t refer to their significant other as peach or cream skinned. These people willfully sacrifice or downplay their link to their blackness but let the partner in life keep their link to their whiteness. Black people who have children with non black people run a greater risk of having their children identify with a non black community. It is my personal prejudice that black people who only date non black people may not be as committed to the future of the black community as they like to assert. If they did they would make having black children with strong black identities and black community affiliation a priority in their life.
Another example is the various black houses of worship that will have spiritual leaders that live in conditions separate from their flock. There are ministers, preachers, pastors, reverends, spiritual teachers, religious entrepreneurs, or whatever title is applicable, that will feel entitled to live rather lavishly in a series of palatial mansions that would rival Citizen Cane’s vision for Xanadu while members of their church are facing eviction from their most humble of dwellings. The prosperity doctrine says that if you live righteously and do your tithing religiously then you too will have the gift from god of material wealth. However, materialism and spiritualism are actually mutually exclusive. In fact, the love of money is supposed to be one of the most depraved sins in the bible. Yet, we all aspire to be the next pharaoh, living large and in charge, off the labor of others. The singular focus on the accumulation of personal wealth is not a community building activity, unless the goal is to build a community of paupers.
Regardless of how or why, there are too many instances of black community organizations, components, institutions, and situations that are led by black people that are not at all focused on the welfare of the black community. In the absence of a white skinned devil that takes advantage of the black community, many of us will rise to the occasion to become the black skinned devil that will seek to subjugate others in the black community. And unfortunately, like most things that exist at our level of understanding, it is far easier to feel the repercussions from the negative effects more so than the positive ones.
The person looking to be the leadership of the black community will appeal to black people’s collective ego and work on our insecurities and will promise to work hard to restore our self worth and take away all of our social problems will undoubtedly be appointed as the leader of our community. These black leaders promise to have all the solutions to our problems. Unfortunately, it never crosses anybody’s mind that the charismatic person at the front of the crowd doesn’t have much experience being the person at the rear most people ignore. The problems are hardly the same from these two extremes. But somehow, we are sold a poor fitting bill of goods that says one solution will fit all. How many times do we have to hear that the system worked for some high profile black person and therefore it must be fair? It’s fair despite the fact that for every high profile person there are thousands of people at the other end of the spectrum.
A lot of high profile black people make fine examples of the problem with the alleged leadership in the black community. It is a fact that many so called black leaders are actually people that the dominant community promotes as black leaders who are in fact working to undermine the black community. These people have thrived in this environment of disparity and are more apt to argue that the status quo must be maintained. These are the type of black leaders who distance themselves from the black community when black leadership can be most effective. These black people will stand in front of the dominant culture and say something to the effect that they are not the average black person but a fellow member of the dominant class that is not identified by race but happens to take virtually all operating procedures from the predominantly white culture. Black people will do better if black people will just do better. Pick yourself up by your bootstrap. Get good grades and get a job and you too will distance yourself from the black community. The key to the good life is kicking blackness to the curb.
Conversely, the black person who sees that something is wrong in the black community but is honest enough to say that they don’t know all the problems and certainly don’t have all the answers is dismissed as nothing but a complainer with a victim mentality unwilling or unable to do the work necessary to resuscitate the black community. Without a grand master plan that rescues us all, this person is not seen as a black community asset but just another lost soul looking for personal relief. We have been conditioned to think the solution to centuries of oppression and subjugation by a dominant culture that controls every aspect of life including, but not limited to, government, entertainment, law enforcement, manufacturing, banking, financing, travel, distribution, education, employment, and justice can be solved in a paragraph or two, or with a charismatic individual who can stroke people’s egos.
But the bottom line is that it will take all the black people who truly care about the welfare of the black community to come together to repair the black community. In the history of the African American the dominant culture never gave our ancestors and elders anything without a hard fought fight. Black people stood in unity when they fought for civil rights and the right to vote. Why we can’t figure out the unity factor now is beyond me. The psychological programming that keeps black people divided runs deep. I’m not saying I or any other single person have all the answers. I believe that we all have a small piece of the answer. Only when we bring those pieces together will we once again take control of our destiny.
We can leave the welfare of the black community to charismatic black leaders who promise nothing but we believe can change things for the black community simply because they exist. But don’t be surprised when you see the black leader personally gaining and gaining large. And before you know it nothing will change. Before our very eyes these leaders evolve into the very devils that we have come to know so well. If we want change we all must do our part to recognize the need, come together to deliver ideals and develop a plan, and then work together to assure that the plan comes to fruition.
Too often people say that it is somebody else’s job to develop the plan or it’s somebody else’s job to develop concepts of racial equality or that it is somebody else’s job to make sure that whoever steps to the plate to be the spokesperson of the black community is kept on the up and up. It is all too easy to sit back and say that somebody else should do it. But until we all roll up our sleeves and make the choice to take an active role in spreading awareness, identifying the issues that are most disastrous and dangerous to the black community in general, until we all contribute to the development of plans at the neighborhood level, community level, and every level all the way up to the national level, the black community will never experience anything resembling equality or self determination. Until will all step up to the plate we will repeat the mistakes just like the characters in Animal Farm.