How we see each other
Between the calls for Black unity, Tavis Smiley’s Townhall Meetings, and countless personal conversations, rarely do I find Black people actually challenge the way we view each other. I hearken back to Chris Rock’s famous line where he said, “I love Black people, but I can’t stand niggas!” That joke was classic, but it was also tragic.
The tragedy comes from the increasing social distance between Black folks that would make that quote tickle the core of so many Blacks, regardless of their socioeconomic status. So as we talk about moving forward individually and collectively as a people, do the niggas get left behind? I certainly hope not, but the fact that so many of us (especially those of us with a lil’ ejumacation) are thoroughly convinced there are clear lines of demarcation between Blacks and niggas is troubling. Can someone tell me what they are?
I think what makes matters worse is the lack of probing that allow stereotypes to fester amongst our community. While I am not interested in enumerating various stereotypes, I would like to challenge all of us to check our assumptions against what we think and what we know. And what I know is that the differences between Black folks are not that much. When I mentor young men who are erroneously labeled at-risk, I always tell them that my going to college does not create a gulf between us. In fact, there are probably two or three decisions that made our paths so different.
But here’s the rub, it wouldn’t take that much for our roles to change. I could get caught up in legal trouble and end up in jail in much the same way that a young man who responds to mentoring by changing his life around and starting his own business. And what I hate is this notion that you are entitled to live whatever lifestyle you currently live in, such that negative and positive expectations are set in stone resulting in extreme self-deception.
Take Black people and all people for individuals and learn to absorb their stories. Try assuming the best when you are thinking of the worst. I also encourage us to empathize, understand, and most of all listen because we all have something to learn from each other. In closing, any call for unity will require us to not let our interactions be solely determined by stereotypes.
Getting back to basics,