Why We (Blacks) Are Our Own Worst Enemy.
© 2015 – Vincent Watson
I am Black, I grew up Black and as far as I know, I will always be Black. You go ahead and feel free to use the term African American if that is your preferred nomenclature and it makes you feel comfortable. I personally prefer the term Black. It’s the term that I grew up with and I personally see no reason to change it simply because those who subscribe to absolute political correctness sees it as a polite alternative to lines of color drawn in some meeting of bureaucratic label makers. So yes, I am black.
What I am not is “yo nigga, yo muthafucker, or yo dawg.”
You will not catch me out in the world “sagging” my way through the hood with my home boys referring to them constantly as “ma nigga” to prove a point, insult or complement them all with the same level of vulgar intensity. You will not catch me cruising the hood with rap music (and I use the term music for most of it reluctantly) so loud that the only defining or memorable pieces of it are the obscenely frequent use of the word nigga, the vibrating license plate and the fact that the oversized backwards spinning “rims” probably cost more than the car is actually worth.
I do not refer to women as bitches and hoes, nor do I post videos on YouTube of my children’s first steps with commentary such as “check dat shit out, that little nigga walkin.” I can appreciate many of the smaller intricacies of the English language such as not using “ax” instead of ask, or “dat” instead of “that.” I mean really, is it too much to ask for you to actually fully complete an entire single word or stop using the ones that were originally used to deride and control us? If it is your choice to be offensive, there are plenty of other words that will do just as well and without the extremely negative connotations of being “less than.” As far as I know, we are the only race to consistently and willingly throw ourselves under the proverbial bus and claim self-awareness under some misguided attempt to lay claim to a culture we never really understood in the first place.
CALL ME AN ASSHOLE. I’M OK WITH THAT.
The way I see it is this. If you call me an asshole, the connotation of the word becomes irrelevant. The word asshole is universal; more of a one size fits all kind of insult applicable to anyone of any race, and generally used to point out a behavior or belief at a particular point in time. But when you call me a nigger, you are diving into a particular time and place as well, but one where the word is universally and undeniably used to denigrate my existence.
You are implying that I am “less than human” an animal to be acquired, used, traded, sold, or even killed at your whim because we as a culture were at one point considered property stolen from a nation in Africa and shipped to America to be used as free labor. You can if you like, argue the point that “it’s our word,” or “we’re taking it back,” or “it’s ok if you are black,” So let me just say this.
NO IT’S NOT OK AND I DON’T CARE WHAT COLOR YOU ARE.
It is not ok to call people you supposedly care about niggas, and changing the word from nigger to nigga does not make it some cute term of endearment. It is what it has always been which is to say a term of degradation and marginalization. It is not ok to refer to woman as bitches and hoes and if you disagree, then explain to me why you are not so cavalier about it when someone uses those terms to describe your wife, sister or mother?
I realize that it may be too late for many older blacks to completely revamp their ways of thinking, but I also believe that we must as a culture must begin to move forward and consider making the changes in our lives and the lives of our children that prove to the rest of the world that we can be better than the animals they currently see us as. There is something so profoundly wrong with embracing a societal methodology that only goes to show those outside of it that we are only capable of behaving in the most negative of ways and behaving like the animals they think we are.
If you want the world to believe that #BLACKLIVESMATTER, a good place to start would be to act like they matter to you. As far as I know, we are the only culture on the planet that goes out of their way to prove that we are exactly the thing we fight so hard against and then complain when people of other races embrace the very same negativity.
#BLACKLIVESMATTER chose to interrupt Bernie Sanders at his speech instead of engaging in a dialogue with him when he is one of the few candidates that have actually spoke out about social inequality. I live in Minnesota and # BLACKLIVESMATTER chose to try and “shut down” the Minnesota State Fair instead of taking your complaints to the state capital. What has the State Fair done to you? Wrong Venue for your issues people.
If you want the world to believe that Black lives actually do matter, then stop embracing music that glorifies the murder of police officers and the mistreatment of our women and then we complaining that you are treated disrespectfully. We refer to ourselves derogatorily utilizing the very same words that our parents and grandparents fought so fiercely against while quoting Martin Luther King as we do so.
Unless there is an unknown draft of the “I have a Dream” speech, I don’t recall the term “my nigga” being used even once in the one that was delivered. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to use our greatest civil rights activist as an example of, or in reference of the mistreatment of blacks while working to subvert their very message. We as a people need to stop raging against “the man” and work for improvement in our own lives and culture. We also need to stop perpetuating the myths and blaming the world for problems we have helped create.
You see, civil disobedience and protests are acceptable ways to voice an opinion or make a statement and the civil rights movement is a prime example of things working the way they should. What you see in the historical records of those events are thousands of people marching, holding hands, singing, and speaking to each other respectfully. All of those people worked together for a cause and when those against their movements got in their way, they simply stepped around them. They didn’t threaten to “buss a cap in they ass.”
What you also do not see are people burning down the very neighborhoods they reside in and then complaining that they have no where to shop once the smoke has cleared. You do not see them carrying off televisions and other goods as they marched leaving a wake of destruction and theft. The greatest civil rights activist achieved success by not being the thing people believed they were. This is to say that they achieved success by not being the ignorant animalistic cavemen that those against them wanted everyone to believe they were. They achieved their goals by being BETTER THAN those who opposed them.
Looting is not protesting. It’s theft. Destroying public property is not protesting. It’s vandalism. I understand why the people of Ferguson were angry and not having been there I chose not to believe all of the hearsay regarding the events leading up to the death of Michael Brown. I’m going to address this and simply say that It’s tragic that another black life was lost through a police shooting. But what must be said is this. It’s apparent that Michael Brown was no angel and to be perfectly honest, and if we are to believe the story of the police officer, I have to say that if some three hundred pound man rushed me, I might have shot him as well. However, If the police officer was lying he should have been prosecuted. I have to hope that all of this did not start simply because a kid was walking in the street and refused to obey orders. Again, I wasn’t there, but I have to believe that it would have been a simple mater for the police officer to drive away for what was probably a minor violation rather than end up with another dead black man rotting in the street. He was wrong.
Travon Martin was killed by a man who simply thought he could get away with it. He was killed by a citizen who essentially stalked and harassed a kid on his way home and it ended up with yet another dead black teenager lying in the street. The problem is that we let him get away with it. The system failed Travon Martin, his family and our community in general. We let a murderer walk away a resume his life and his family left to grieve with no sense of resolution.
A BADGE IS NOT A LICENSE TO KILL
We all know that police have in fact gotten away with murder, but I have to believe that those officers that are simply out for the kill are few and far between. I also have to believe that the best way to deal with these situations is simply not be in a challenging situation. Remember that the goal is to be alive when all is said and done. People can be ignorant and frightened at things they do not know. I was reading the comment section of an article about black live matter boycotting the Minnesota State Fair the other day on WCCO and some ignorant (I assume white) woman commented that if #Blacklivesmatter then “They should stop killing each other.”
I managed to hold back my first and rather angry response, which was to say, “Yes, maybe they should go to movie theaters and high schools instead.” It was a kneejerk reaction to bigotry and I didn’t say it, not because I thought it would be impolite, but rather I didn’t say it because ignorance is what it is, and understanding simply cannot be taught to someone who is universally unwilling to see past their bigotry.
I understand that there are people in the world that still consider us as animals and would be perfectly content to see us wiped from the face of the earth but that is another subject for another time. What we need to be concentrating on is teaching our children that the way up is through education and realized ambitions instead of spending every waking hour dreaming of becoming the next Michael Jordan instead of hitting the books. While there may be the next Michael Jordan somewhere out there, they are few and far between and it is a dream that should not be relied on instead of contemplating plans B, C, and D.
And yes, there are police officers out there who simply cannot wait for an opportunity to put down “one of those animals” under the guise of serving and protecting. Here is a suggestion and one that I give my son should he be confronted by a police officer. BE ANGRY LATER and ALIVE NOW.
We need to learn how to do something on that smartphone other than to upload vulgar videos to YouTube, send shout outs to all of “our niggas.” Maybe you should figure out how to program it to automatically upload video to the cloud once you start recording and if you are pulled over or stopped by an officer, hit the record button and place the phone on the seat next to you while answering the officers questions calmly and politely, and then go home. Remember, the goal of this is to be alive at the end of the confrontation, not indignantly righteous and nevertheless dead.
If you expect to live in a nice neighborhood, teach your children what garbage cans are for. I watch many of the kids in my neighborhood throw trash on the ground despite the fact that they are ten feet from several garbage cans. Stop sitting on the front porch with distorted music blaring from a speaker in the window while drinking beer and disposing of the cans by tossing them on the lawn. I’m sorry but this isn’t a race thing. I don’t want to live next door to you either under those circumstances. It’s about respect. It’s about you respecting me and me respecting you. But mostly it’s about self-respect. There are a lot of horrible things going on in this country at the moment and we need to deal with them, but there is a right way and a wrong way and too often, we choose the wrong way.
If you want to remind yourself of humble beginnings, go back and read the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s iconic song Living for the City. It’s about working through adversity as a person of color, not simply raging against it. Stevie Wonder understood it even back then, as did others who fought and died for the equality we squander so readily.
But the bottom line is this. If you consider yourself as, and refer to yourself as “a nigga,” then you don’t get to complain about being treated like one.
This article and its contents are ©2015 by Vincent Watson and StonesthrowGathering. It may not be reprinted or sold without direct permission from it’s author or legal representatives. Links to the original article may be used for non-commercial purposes.