By Clive Williams
Why do you claim to be socially conscious, yet you spend most of your disposable income outside of your community? Are you are aware that you are building up the tax base and improving the economic conditions of the communities in which you shop? Do you realize that you are robbing your children, family and community of vital revenue it needs to provide better schools, roads, water supply, drainage, shopping centers, health care? Don’t you read the signs, listen to the news, or follow social media? They have all been beating the drums with some urgency – begging you, pleading with you to Shop Local, are you so apathetic or foolish, to believe that we can survive and thrive without supporting each other? What’s wrong with you?
Why is it that OG’S like me have to remind all you smart college educated guys that your first loyalties are to your GOD, self, family and your community? What does that really mean? Does it mean that you have an obligation to think about the consequences of all your life decisions and how they affect the rest of us? How is it you act as if the communities in which you live are not deserving of love respect, support and care? James Baldwin had something to say over 50 years ago that is worth repeating, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Digest what Baldwin said, because I am going to come back to it, but before I do, I have to ask you some more questions; what value do you place on your life, how much are you worth? Do you care about yourself enough to actually love yourself? What’s wrong with you?
How much time do you devote to improving your own life mentally, physically and spiritually, or is it just about the “Benjamin’s”? When you glibly boast about the grandeur of your African Ancestors and their achievements, why don’t you reflect their pride and sense of struggle? Whose side are you on when you neglect your wives and children in favor of your selfish needs, whose interest are you serving, when you treat your own people like the enemy, when you treat your women like trash, your children like strangers and your employees like slaves? Where is your mind, your critical thinking capacity, in the quest to reform stability and purpose as a Black family, to restore relationships and rituals that honor our birthright and ensure our raison d’etre? What’s wrong with you?
Do you really believe that all your material acquisitions is a substitute for who you are, in other words, do you believe you’re represented by the home or car you own? Have you been deluded enough by the lifestyles of the rich and famous so much, to make you believe that life skills such as good manners, courtesy and respect no longer matter? Let’s role play for a minute, change places with your spouse or your boss or even a friend, and respond objectively – would you tolerate your own behavior? If not, then isn’t it time that you re-assess and begin the process of reprogramming your life? What’s wrong with you?
Are you ready for the answer to my annoying rhetorical questions? We, are what’s wrong, not racism, not the bogey man, not Trump – it’s exactly what Baldwin said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” So next time you, or I ask the question, what’s wrong with you? The real question should be what’s wrong with us? We lost our focus in the Black community as we were engaged in fighting too many battles, we neglected the fundamentals, we became more material than spiritual, so the principles of strong tribal families gave way to “you do your thing and I do my thing.” The intoxication with Integration is hastening our disintegration; as a community our quest should be redirected from equality to self-determination, equality is a divinely settled matter.
Our previous notions of unity, community, cohesiveness gave way to individuality, my way or the highway mentality – our children saw the growing schism, the conflict, religious contradictions, hypocrisy, deceit and self-hate, they were also tired of us blaming every event on race. In our vain efforts to undo the harm of indulging and protecting our children, we overcompensated in our efforts to please them, and made a bad situation worse; the result is that the coping skills of our children and grandchildren are underdeveloped, leaving them to complain and whine over the slightest challenge to their personhood. How about making our homes our Churches, (they have been over the last year) so we can forgive, reunite, converse, share, play and love our families as the tribe once did, then, maybe we will begin to right the wrong that we caused through our submission to coercion and deception.