Conveniently Black…Conveniently Outraged

Niggerhead.  It is a word that has been injected into this cycle’s election debate.  Apparently, Rick Perry and his family leased a property in  West Texas that unofficially held the infamous moniker.  Unofficially, in the sense the ranch’s name was scrawled across a huge rock in block lettering.  As soon as this story broke in the Washington Post the usual vultures came out to pick their pound of flesh from Perry’s exposed political body.

What struck me as odd was not the responses from people like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson Jr. who are far too often conveniently black and outraged during the latest cause celebre, it was their utter silence on issues that threaten to effect the African-American community in a more adverse way than a few racists playing Deliverance in the backwoods of Texas.

The Part About The Music:  The Billboard Top 10 for R&B/Hip Hop features songs that pose an immediate and damaging effect on young, impressionable black minds.  Marvin and Chardonnay features  the word ‘nigga’ prominently, calls women ‘bitches’, and Kanye exclaims that his girl is cool because she gives him head while wearing her sunglasses.  Speaking of Kanye, on his highly anticipated collaboration with Jay Z, Watch the Throne, the word nigga is used on every song in aggressive and damaging ways.  There is even a song that features that very word; Niggas in Paris. 

Where’s the outrage from Sharpton and Jackson?  Jesse Jackson Jr. sponsored a resolution condemning Perry’s leasing of the Niggerhead compound during the eighties when he, Perry, was a Democrat to host fundraisers.  Where is the Congressional resolution to condemn these ‘artists’ who put this poison out weekly, pumping it into the brains of our kids; weakening their view of themselves and cheapening the value of young, black women?   Don’t even get me started on the reinvention, and acceptance by women, of the label of being a bitch, or their man’s bitch. 

The Part About AIDS:  At the end of 2007, African-Americans accounted for almost half (46%) of people living with a diagnosis of HIV infection in the 37 states and 5 US dependent areas with long-term, confidential, name-based HIV reporting. In 2006, blacks accounted for nearly half (45%) of new infections in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  In 2010, 300 new HIV/AIDS cases came up in the St. Louis area.  Almost two-thirds of those cases were among African-Americans.  But among women, African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of new cases. 

So if one looks at the data black women are dying in packs to a very preventable disease with nary a mention on Capitol Hill.  No marches planned by Sharpton or the NAACP.  No speeches from either one of the Jesse Jacksons.

The Part About Access to Education:  A post-slavery century in America, where unequal access to education is prominent, has left African-Americans lagging every other racial group in terms of resume building and vulnerable to discrimination in a world that decreasingly values on-the-job experience.  This is the biggest roadblock to the ascendancy of African-Americans.  If white children in Norfolk were graduating at the rate that black kids are there would be riots in the streets. 

As it stands, there are no protests, and the only ones suffering are the 53% of eligible graduates who fell by the wayside last year.  Yes, 6 out of every ten black seniors failed to graduate from Norfolk’s high schools last year.  Paul Fraim… Paul Riddick… Anthony Burfoot where are the mandates?  Where are the hearings?  Where are the firings and recalls?

The Part About Having Solutions:  A black kid gets shot on a street corner, cue the news cameras and the ‘local black leader.’   A black kid gets shot on a street corner by a white person, cue the national news cameras and the ‘national black leader.’  Either way, the story usually dies within a few days with no guidance or plan for eradicating the problem in the future.  Wealth, as defined by the Institute on Assets and Policy, is ‘what you own minus what you owe, allows people to start a business, buy a home, send children to college, and to ensure an economically secure retirement.  Without wealth, families and communities can not become or remain economically secure.’  Well, African-American wealth is zero, because we don’t own any solutions  to our own problems, we don’t have anyone willing to lay their lives on the line to push our agenda on a national level in a militant way,  and the legacy we’re leaving  our kids does not  give our prosperity a chance to be.  If this continues there will be no wealth.  There will be no communities.

What are the solutions? 

Where are the leaders, and do they seek publicity or progress? 

From left: Deborah Wilson of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, Michelle Taylor of the United Way, Tony Allen of the Wilmington HOPE Commission, educator Maurice Pritchett of Pritchett Associates, and Raye Jones Avery of Christina Cultural Arts Center and Kuumba Academy. Photograph by Jared Castaldi

Why are the most iconic images of protest and uprising in black and white?


Where is the revolution? 

Black Protestors 1

How many more kids have to die… how many more women have to  contract HIV/AIDS… how many more studies have to come out that show black kids are being diagnosed as mentally retarded before someone sees a need to turn off Marvin and Chardonnay and get to work saving a nation of people?  In my 890 word essay I didn’t offer one solution.  That is something that will have to come from a national debate/symposium akin to Tavis Smiley’s The State of the Black Union(which died due to the corporatization of that movement.).  What do you think the solutions are?  An entire movement is waiting on your suggestions.


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