Separating myself from my peers is something I have never been afraid to do, and as I grow older, I grow bolder; I have always refused to accept the status quo, not always in a combative way, but certainly in an affirmative and determined way. Why? Because accepting the status quo is just plain lazy. The harsh reality is that religion, history, philosophy, sociology, politics and economics have all conspired wittingly, (institutionalized) or unwittingly (unscripted) to deceive us, and all too often because of our self-imposed ignorance, neglect or apathy we mirror the deception. We accept what we are told by authority figures: namely our pastors, doctors, teachers or bosses, without hesitance, no questions, without even a hint of curiosity or query; no explanation or reason required.
This obviously results in the status quo, a static situation much like standing water, which eventually becomes stagnant and putrefied, becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and other hazardous conditions. Can you imagine moving into a home with carpets which look pleasant enough, but have been laying on the floor for years, yet you never raise them to see what’s under them? You never explore the attic or the basement thoroughly to find what may be concealed in them; so, if you are too busy, distracted or uninterested to investigate your own environment, then it means you have accepted things as they are – the Status Quo! You are apathetic, static, stagnant! Hence the attitude; If it doesn’t affect me personally or those I care about, it does not exist in my world!
This mental and psychological dereliction of intellectual curiosity has hastened the demise of reason, and the growth of ‘know nothingness’ which discounts that fundamental Socratic challenge to mankind – “to know thyself.” Ignorance is self-imposed if one makes no effort whatsoever to learn something else, or something new, informative and stimulating!
Yes, we live in a world where people place great emphasis on the importance of their traditions, no matter how much they conflict with logic or reason; the inevitable result of this automated behavior is a pooling and festering of the status quo much like stagnant water. The agents of that thinking revel in such stagnation, because it means they no longer need to be innovative or creative…no mental challenges; the fix is in. They have succeeded! Black people have bought most of what has been sold to them, Christmas, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Valentine’s Day, American exceptionalism, Shining City on a Hill, etcetera, etcetera; hence, since they have defined us, our chances of re-defining ourselves are slim and none. It’s that cynical! That’s why we are disrespected, because we have deceived ourselves into accepting the Status Quo – striving always to be equal instead of exceptional, being consumers instead of producers, fighting to entertain, instead of desiring to own the entertainment; devoted instead to merriment and bacchanal, while sacrificing our innate inventiveness and creativity on the altar of materialism.
Even a casual observer will readily notice the material excess on display in Black communities; Mercedes, BMW’s and Porches populate too many driveways, sometimes in two’s or sometimes more; this attention getting display of luxury is often a symbol of some success – some academic or professional achievement, business success, winnings from the lotto, or an investment cash out, but much too often, from the proceeds of crime. Whatever the reason for the odious display of materialism, it fuels the White narrative that we consume way more than we produce. We deceive ourselves into believing that our material Bling makes us equal – that it defines our achievements, hence it defines us. Most of the luxury on display is depreciating in value by the day; they generate little or no income unless they’re used commercially, but we deceive ourselves of their value.
We go even further by deceiving ourselves that our college degrees make us the cat’s meow, not true! In the real world you must validate your ownership of that degree and then proceed to use it to really educate yourself in learning the enduring life skills. Self-flagellation and self -absorption are not engaging and likeable traits, they are in fact repulsive enough to limit your social and emotional connections; but then, we deceive ourselves into believing that being nice or being caring is weak, or punk-assed.
Our collective experiences as Black people should instruct and divert our behavior away from self-deception, yet we continue to be beguiled by the prospect of being like the White man, trapped in what is described today as the Stockholm Syndrome, (when you begin to bond with your captor/tormentor, ultimately believing their lies). Black folks have learned to depend on the White man, instead of working on Black inter-dependence, self-awareness, and self-love. So, the full-scale acceptance of white lies, traditions and narratives, has become our lies, traditions and narratives, his standards become our standards; so, unless we embark on the conscious mission of Self -Work, Self – Awareness, learning ourselves, knowing ourselves and living our authentic selves, we will continue to deceive ourselves.