Thursday, April 30, 2015

Absurd Theater of the Hood

By Heru Ammen

Lights, camera, action! Cue Baltimore. Wait for it. Wait for it. And now coming to the stage… pastors, ministers, academics, activists, leaders, pundits, politicians, and their wannabe sycophants. They are like dyslexic roaches coming out only when the lights come on - framing them in the center of the pomp and circumstance of another hood uprising. They all wax eloquently about this and that and the need for black folks to “come together.”

They prance to and fro in front of or near the camera waiting for their 15 minutes of fame outfitted in their finest attire; neon silk, wool blend or polyester pinstripe suits, gators and staceys, monogram cotton or silk shirts complete with gold (or gold plated) cuff links and jeweled finger and neck accoutrements.

When approached by a reporter, they dance a jig of excitement, make the appropriate gas face and invoke Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous staccato when they speak; all the while talking loud and offering nothing of substance or significance to a desperate people. The aforementioned drama plays out in the Theater of the Hood every time another African American is murdered unjustly by an overseer of the law; better known as a policeman.  The sad fact of the matter is that the Baltimore uprising gives us a clear picture of the impotency and clown car mentality exhibited by what is traditionally called black leadership.  

Under the auspices and direction of the black religious, political, academic and activist cognoscente, urban communities have steadily devolved into semi third world social, political and economic ecosystems. If one traverses the urban areas of most cities in America, one will witness miles of blight and poverty. Schools have closed or have had funding reduced to the point where teaching fundamentals in the disciplines of math, science, language and the arts are no longer possible.
The war on poverty was/is a de-facto war on the African American male. Welfare policies were highly effective in removing the African American male from the home in the 1960’s resulting in over 70% of households with children in the African American community today becoming one parent homes; with the majority being headed by teen-age and young mothers.

The black church has a problem too. There are black churches throughout this country with a hundred to tens of thousands of members each. They have church every Sunday and collectively take in millions of dollars in donations every week. Yet the communities that they serve continue to exist in poverty, ignorance, violence and crime; as they have done so for generations. And as quiet as it’s kept, there exist in the black church a culture of sexual abuse by pedophiles targeting young black males and females that are being raised by these young and single moms. (Yes, I went there!).

Where were all of these black leaders, preachers, pundits and activist when schools were being closed or defunded in our communities? What plan did they implement to mitigate the negative economic impact when businesses started leaving our communities? What did they offer to the people when African American males were being kicked out of their homes due to welfare policies? What solution did they offer when mile after mile of residential and commercial properties were being foreclosed upon, abandoned and boarded up in our communities?

What we have witnessed in Baltimore this last week is a culmination of 45 plus years of inaction and neglect by black leaders, entrepreneurs, clergy and academia, et al. that had the opportunity, means and the ability to do great things in our communities. They complain of injustice. However people with power and money have exploited those without since humans placed financial value in gold, money and commodities. We've face that issue since the ship named Jesus brought us to this country.
In the past, we were able to overcame slavery, jim crow, discrimination and segregationist policies designed to stymie economic opportunities in our communities. Even when all those policies existed, we were able to build Black Wall Street in Tulsa. We owned land to farm and build businesses and homes. We formed the first internationally recognized workers union called the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in Chicago and we had our own Professional Baseball league.

Our kids went to college and came home to work and start business in our communities. We became entertainers, musicians, scientists, doctors, attorneys and politicians. Even back then, a great number of our people that were poor and disenfranchised. However those of us that were able to succeed became beacons of light to others in the community. Our people had a “reach one, teach one” mentality. So don’t tell me that the “white man” or the “system” is the reason why our black leaders completed ignored and abdicated their responsibility to our urban communities for last 45 years. They ignored our community because they were/are more interested in obtaining their 15 minutes of fame in front of the camera pretending that they are actually making a difference, then they are in putting in work to actually make a difference.