This past week my wife and I were going through our nightly ritual of showering, brushing teeth, hair, etc. and somehow got into a discussion on race relations in America. She is convinced most of the US is full of prejudice peoples, mainly for all the press that dipicts such issues and how frequently they do so. Coming from rural Alablama I have a unique perspective. I am 1/2 American Indian and 1/2 German, so everyone always thought I was Mexican, until they met my parents. Growing up on a farm we had few neighbors and 90% of them were African-Americans. I grew up along side these kids and shared some of their issues and fears until the teenage years. My first employment experiences were working along side many hard working and honest African-American teens and men. I have many African-American friends, from childhood, the Navy, college, and professional working experiences. Now what is really odd about all this is the fact that you have to explain yourself to such detail before you begin to discuss any Black-White relations in America so you will not be labeled a bigot or prejudice person. Whith that said here is a brief synopsis of my conversation with my wife.
We were discussing jails and crime and punishment in America and China, mainly the death penality. I then informed her of the statistics of African-American males in jail, their murder rate, the problems with single parent homes, and walfare system failing them in the US. She did not believe me and want to know where I was getting all my information. Well, growing up in the middle of this I have been hearing about all this information since my junior highschool days. Now it just so happens the two days later I happened accross a NPR article about this exact topic (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5618023&ft=2&f=1090), more or less, outlining Juan Williams‘ (a very good reporter and comentator!) new book Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It
Reading exerpts, and having lived among and in the heart of some of these issues, in Alabama many whites have to learn all about the civil rights movements and are sometimes better versed on its history, struggles, and leaders then some young Aftican-Americans (which is a shame). Part of the converstion my wife and I had revolved around Bill Crosby and his touring the nation speaking out in African-American communities accross the country. He do so in Milwaukee, it made huge news BOTH years it happened their, and Chicago amungst other cities across the country. I think Mr. Williams and Mr. Crosby are hitting the nail on the head. The problems in race in America, and far beyond that of just African-Americans, is how we look at race internally.
Some people look at things in the past, which is a very southern attitude (harboring greivances generations after the deed was committed and well beyond the control of any of the presently alive people). Some people are disconnected with the times, issues, and problems of today (outlined in the above two articles). The amount of problems and issues facing so many African-Americans today is no longer a government or overall society issue, but an internal community and value issue. The new breed of African-American leaders need to do as Mr. Crosby stated, stop blaming white America for your problems and start cleaning up your own house. Mr. Crosby has drawn a lot of heat for his straight forward, no appoligy approach to this topic. But he is right and so is Mr. Williams in his new book.
My wife always says that complaigning about something without doing something about it is just talk, and a waste of air. Again actions speak louder then words. It may be time for leaders to stop blaming the ‘man’ and start fixing what is wrong withing their own community. Without strong morles, values, or a foundation of honor, respect, and integrity you can not have a lasting community, as it will all dissolve into chaos and self serving greed. I hope these messages are being received by todays new African Americna leaders and they can help to turn around a good, prosperous, and dignified community that has fallen to the ills of capitalism’s dark side and the ideals that money and greed can elevate the common man above the poverty of the ghetto. The problems as Mr. Williams and others are pointing out is not a lack of leaders, role models, or opression… rather the problems are a lack ok focusing the message on the modern and real plight of the present African-American community, not the one of 50 years ago.
I have mentioned on this site before about how we shape our own reality, our preception is the world we live in until someone challenges this and forces us to change our view. This is what American’s current African-American leaders need to do, challenge the current internal view of black American and force it to modernize and address the real problems it faces. Lack of stable 2 parent families, strong dicipline and admiration for staying in school and suceeding in legal trade provided by the entire community, no tolerance for drug, gangster, or immoral actions or representations within the community, holding leaders accountable for thier actions (remember Marion Berry), point to the real sucess stories (Condelezza Rice, Collen Powel, Tiger Woods, Juan Williams, Bill Crosby, The Williams sisters, Denzel Washington, the thousands of CEOs, Executive VPs, lawyers, cops, fire fighters, doctors, charity organizers, and other people who exemplefy a positive message and pride for their race, them selves, their community.) Just like in the movie Crash, the community needs to realize the problem is not how whites see blacks, but how blacks see them selves in America and in life in America. In America the individual is responsible for their destiny, it is the year 2006, not 1956. African-Americans have all the oppertunities everyone else does. It takes hard work and determination to suceed in life, this is true no matter your race or nationality. If you work hard enough, get up when you are knocked down, and do right by your fellow man then you will go as far as you want to go. Dr. King, Malcom X, Jessie Jackson all had obsticles in front of them, yet they always rose above them and suceeded. This determination is in us all, all we have to do it apply it.