Thursday, May 24, 2007

caste acceptance

sorry, this is a long post.

the other day, i was on a messageboard that i frequent and i read this anonymous post. the board seems to have more white posters than black, and fearing that i wouldn't get candid reactions on the mixed site, i pasted it onto other boards with all black readership, asking for black folks' reactions.

I realize that all black people in these neighborhoods are not acting badly. Not all black people are litterbugs, etc, etc. Unfortunately, in most instances, you have only a few people on say a given block who may have some pride in themselves and do not consider their poverty status when deciding whether or not they should run a vacuum, rake their leaves, pick up the front yard, etc. These people are surrounded by too many people who use their current state as an excuse for not having to have any pride in themselves or take any action to create a future for themselves or their children. It is very hard for one or a few individuals to fight such a massive tide of adverse behavior or characteristics. Ultimately what happens is that these people get discouraged and simply give up and end up conforming to the group or leaving. Then you are left with what you have now. Also, the nice people are not going to get sucked into this because the nice people leave the demoralized slobs behind. At the end of the day, its unfortunate to admit, but we are living amongst two, not one, but two lost generations. Not talking about the few exceptions who find a way out, but on a whole, we have two generations who have gone to crap. What we are now witnessing are the offspring off the unwed and uneducated daughters who were born from the crackheads of the early 80's. To make it worse, the men that have impregnated them are also the products of crackhead mothers, and so on, and so on. Each of these generations has less value to impart to the next. I see them as digressing more than evolving. Seriously. When you look at how these people carry themselves and their demeanors, and how they dress, they actually look like slaves. You could pluck these people from modern North Phildelphia, and drop them "as is" into the year 1830 in South Carolina, and judging by their language and social skills, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart from the rest of the field hands. The only difference would be that the "modern" black person would have no desire to free themsleves from their bonds. They always talk about succesful black people being "Uncle Toms" and "House N[-]" and so forth when in actuality, these people who refuse to contribute are the ones living in the masters house. They are living in a world designed by those in power for them to inhabit. They think they own their corners and streets and do what they want when actually they are doing what their opressors want them to do. And thats to kill each other. I honestly believe that what we are dealing with are people that at the end of the day are basically genetically defective. The only thing that can change that is evolution. As Darwin called it "survival of the fittest". In order to survive, you either adapt, i.e., educate yourself to compete in this society, or, you starve to death. I think this generation will succomb to the latter rather than strive for the former. The most unfortunate thing is that their demise will be by choice.

i think it's sad that virtually anyone black who has responded to my request for feedback on this post simply agrees with little to no objection - responding with their eagerness to leave the hood, their dissatisfaction with other black people. i can't say i don't understand it. there's are good reasons why i don't live in the hood now. there've been times when i have complained about some of the same things. but to see it in black and white plain speech like that is so disheartening.

i would like to think that we would have a greater esteem for black folks in the hood, i would hope so - i once was one of them. i have family members who still are there. class stratification is a beetch. i'd hate to think that i've turned to judging that which i've come from - but in reality, i don't come from that. my parents were married homeowners who paid their bills, raised me right, and paid tuition for my private school outside of town. college was no choice for me, it was a default expectation. following behind the other kids was not an option, and my upbringing ensured that it was not a desire. the only thing hood about my life was my address and my front-row spectator seat to what was going on with others. but from that spectator seat, i've seen so many others like myself, with caring parents, clean and safe homes, similar work ethic and values... like attracts like, and while i was living in the hood, i had no shortage of friends from the hood like myself. today they are professionals, master's candidates, well-adjusted, happy, generally functional people.

thing is, they've all moved out too. there is some truth to the idea that those who can leave, will leave. those who can progress, will progress. and those who stay behind are those who have stayed inert.

a major thing i've learned from reading the history of africans in this country is that we haven't all had the same experience, believed the same things, agreed in politics or strategy as a people, etc. but for so long, the fate of our majority was a collective fate. the imperative then, especially during the civil rights movement, and even during the black power movement, was to exhort us to think and act collectively for the welfare of all. having been shaped by that mindset, it hurts for me to admit that at this point, as a people, we can't do that. we won't do that. we are so very splintered mentally, according to where we see ourselves on the spectrum from the extremes of bourgeois negro to ghetto thug, each reveling in the correctness of our caste - each trying to guilt the others for being traitorous to the values of a people who don't really have collective values. the adversarial stance we take further reinforces the fractures, breaking and chipping away at the idea of a people with a common future, until such a future becomes no more than a childish utopian illusion. but what are we supposed to do? become a monolith? the american capitalist in us - the distrust we have for each other - precludes that option altogether.

should i then embrace my middle class spot on the spectrum, disdaining the more wealthy who look down at me for socially (economically) climbing, as well as the folks in the hood for seeming to revel in their stagnant reality? where does accepting your caste cross the line to being a judgmental jerk?

i wonder what w.e.b. dubois and booker t. washington and marcus garvey and martin luther king and malcolm x would think.... probably five variations of "i told you so."