Posts Tagged ‘Black identity’

Week 2 October 10, 2013.

Today the class discussion was about the what it means to be truthful. This topic hit a lot of nerves. We also talked about history. Does one really know his/her history and what role did, knowing or not knowing, play in the acts that many of the guys committed.

The discussion took a turn to religion and got out of hand. I had to bring things back into perspective at that point. Unfortunately, many guys come to prison to find God and leave Him here when they leave. I knew that this could become a discussion that would get guys away from the real issue, victimhood. That is what we are here for and that needs to be the theme, not the color of Jesus skin or what climate he was born in.

I had the chance to talk today and I spoke about the realties of the system. As much as one may hate the way that the system works one cannot deny that it has served a purpose. It has done a good job in making people dependant on it. I spoke about how guys are more concerned with the new food menu than their kids. Recently, they changed the food menu and guys have been expressing their gripes or likes about the new food. These are the topics that have made guys forget why they are here. These are the topics that make guys feel comfortable in being here.

I also spoke about how the design of the system has made guys strangers to their own families. I based that off of what I see when I go on visits. I often see guys fearful of showing love and affection to their love ones. How I hear guys always talk about their “homeboys” yet their homeboys are not coming up here to visit them. That the people the people that are coming here are the ones who are the constant victims of our incarceration. They fall into the category of victims as well as those other people that were directly effected by our offenses.

Along with this topic we discussed the roles that we play in this cycle. That in order to stop the cycle you have to know where it began. For many it began with someone who looked like us, someone that was close to us. For many of us we showed someone whom we loved the “game” and how it is played. So we have to take ownership for the lives that we have exposed to this lifestyle. When one can get to the point of acknowledging this they can take the steps needed to change behavior.

Overall, we had a very productive and inter-active class. It is still early so there is more to come.

As always I invite comments and questions.

Peace

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holly-bass-jaamil-olawale-kosoko-double-consciousness

I was reading something today and it read “solutions to double consciousness.” When I read the statement it made me think about what it meant to have a double conscious in the first place. I wrote about this a while ago and I guess that is why i feel compelled to write about it again.

After thinking about this statement I had to ask who does this really apply to. I mean in order to have a double consciousness you have to have one to begin with. So how do you answer this question in a world where there are people who don’t have a consciousness to begin with.

There has to be some sort of education involved to get to the core of ones beings. It will allow for one to come into the essence of self. To know thy self is one of the greatest tools that can be used in finding the solution to having a double consciousness. But, how does one achieve that if they are part of a group of people that lack heritage and culture to identify with in the first place?

During one of my classes I posed the question to 2 white men and 2 black men. I gave a slip of paper to one white guy that read, “what does it mean to act black?” and i gave a slip to another white guy that read, “what does it mean to act white?”
I also did the same to the two black guys that i had selected to answer these questions. I asked one, “what does it mean to act black?” and the other “what does it mean to act white?”

These men were not prepped to answer these questions and were selected at random. You would not believe the response that was given. Every answer was based on a stereotype. What was worse was the stereotype that the white guys had for “what does it mean to act black” was the same stereotype that the black guy gave when asked “what does it mean to act black?” Talk about a double consciousness!

The typical response was a negative one. One where the black guy always had to find a way to “act” a fool and ignorant! So I asked the question, “why is it that not one black person in this room said that to act black is to be a father, responsible. law-abiding, educated, loving, caring etc.” The shame that filled the room was heartbreaking. That many young black men have fallen victim to a stereotype that someone else gave them.

I asked a Hispanic guy what it meant to be Hispanic and the first thing that he said was,” ahhhh I don’t know how to answer that, but we have our culture…” I stopped him and told him “you have said enough.” It is sad that many blacks when asked about their history the think that it began on a boat in chains and shackles.

What does that say about the consciousness of someone to think that their existence began in a state of degradation. So much so that till this day they believe that the only thing that they can identify with is the definition that someone else has placed on them. Therefore they act that out.

This is the state of affairs of many of the young men here. They take pride in being called nigga, dog, thug, fool, pimp, gangsta and all of the other adjectives that have been adopted into the culture of mainstream America, as it concerns the black communities.

I asked a question, the same day, where did blacks learn what they know about themselves? No one had a legitimate answer to that question. Most of these guys are young so don’t remember a time where TV was (and still is) by white shows. So they have no idea as to what it means to live in a society where there is no one on TV that looks like you. See this is something important as TV often becomes the medium from which we learn, from where the status quo comes. So it is through TV that we learn most of our behavior.

When did the decline of the black community really begin? Who knows but I do know that when they begin to give us time slots on TV to be fools it seemed that we took those images and ran with them. Do you remember N.W.A.( niggas with an Attitude) they changed the game and we became known for a new genre of rap, gangsta rap. Where we yelled fuck the police and talked about niggas getting shot and I can’t forget “A Bitch is a Bitch” or the other songs that came out that young blacks began to identify with, shit that was causing them to kill themselves a mile a minute.

What about Boyz in the Hood, Juice, Menace to Society, South Central and the many movies that came after that that depicted young black men as menaces and culprits to every type of crime that could be committed. I was so wild in those days I can recall a guy pulling out a gun on me an pulling it and hold it sideways, imitating what he saw Ole Dog on Menace to Society. See i can sit back and recall those days of foolishness.

Why is it that Denzel won an Oscar for portraying a crooked cop? Why did 36 Mafia win an Oscar for it is hard out here for a pimp? Why couldn’t Denzel win for Malcolm, John Q, hell Man on Fire for all it matters. My point is that if the images that are portrayed on TV and in the movies depict blacks in these stereotypical ways what do you expect from some one who adopts these roles? Where is the consciousness to begin with?

With that being said how do you answer the question, what is the solution to having a double consciousness? I say that it starts with those of us who have a good idea of where this double consciousness comes from begin to educate those who don’t. Sometimes those who know take for granted that no one wants to listen when that may not be the case all the time.

For instance one day a young guy was talking to me and he says, “see that cracker over there.” So I ask him what did he mean by that. He says, “I mean that white guy over there, the racist one.” So, I ask him if he knew where that word came from and why it was used. He says,” No. I just know that it refers to the racist ones.” So, I explain to him that every time you call that guy “cracker” you exalt his status as an oppressor. He looks at me in disbelief. I go on to tell him that the word “cracker” was a word that the slaves used for the white man because they didn’t know his name and every time he came to punish someone they used to say here comes the “cracker” as that was the sound that came from the whip. He was blown away by that small information and vow to never use the word again. In that regards he was able to deal with that double consciousness.

The same thing exists in the names that most black people bear. Jackson, Johnson, Williamson, Robinson etc. These are all names that were passed down from slavery to identify the owners of these slaves. So the slaves of John were called Johnsons etc. I just use that example to point out that even the best of use carry some of these traits with us on a daily basis. We sign big checks bearing these names. We buy big houses bearing these names. We pass these names on to our offspring’s. We have family reunions celebrating these names.

So it is safe to say that the vast majority of African-American or blacks, which ever you deem to be more political correct, suffer from this thing called a double consciousness. But, as long as you know that a disease exists you can continue to treat it. You may not cure it all the way, that may be too hard, but it is treatable. You can treat it with education. Education of self and others. In order to get to an end you have to know where you are starting from!

how do we deal with the current black leaders in the African American communities? and do they share in the culpability of the design of the criminal justice?

that is a question that comes up often in the groups that i sit in at times. i am of the mind that there are a lot of leaders that have exploited the black communities and have gotten rich of this exploitation. they have done nothing but incite more anger,hatred,animosity and separation in the black neighborhoods than they care to admit. so if this is the case than blacks don’t stand a chance when it comes to change and progression in this society. Michelle Alexander touched on this a little in her book.

it is know that we suffer from issues that extend from drug abuse to identity issues. we have yet to identity ourselves as a people. i remember fondly, in my younger years, hearing the term “african booty scratcher” or having the idea being planted that african people were savage. this lead to the feeling that i didn’t belong to that part of the world, as black as i am huh! well the connotation was that we, of all people didn’t want to be from there nor associated with that land. we wanted to be native american. we were thought to love all but hate each other. nappy headed, big lip black ass nigga!! we tore each other down and that still exist today. i met a black girl who told me that she don’t call herself african american because she doesn’t even know if that is where she comes from. how is that? the same thing that i heard 30 years ago is still being debated today, who are you and where are you from. so if you don’t know where you are from, and accept that, where the hell are you going. does acknowledging this and loving this means that you have to hate others? no not at all. it means that you can love others and appreciate them more as you know what it means to love the human race. but you can’t do that if you love everyone else yet hate your own. as you make up a part of the human race, the only race!

back to what i was saying. some of these leaders have profited off of teaching us to hate other. where is the talk of self love? how is it i understand more about the so called ‘enemy’ and his plot than i do about my myself. where is this education at? this is where i hold those leaders responsible. all of the stuff that they preach in the churches and some of these mosques are geared to further oppress blacks and not uplift and liberate them. it is no secret that most black families are tied into some sort of religion so the most fitting place to begin this conversation is in these places. the same way that these mass revivals are staged and conventions etc are set up there should be conventions that address the plight of blacks in these urban communities. when are we going back into them to clean up the mess that many of us left behind. when are we going to go in there and uplift the people and show others how to better there quality of life? see those that have the major power an money to do so refuse to do so. that is that double consciousness that w.e.b Dubois speaks about. it is cool to talk about the issue and all the blacks that are locked up but no not cool to act out. why is that? could it be that we are so far gone that we don’t even trust ourselves? hum! now that is something to think about. we have been told for so long that we are not to be trusted that now this is the way that we think about each other.