The Answer Is In The Silence
I am by definition a “Black man”. Because of the context of “Black” in America, I reject this identity. In almost every context that I explored the meaning of “Black”, I found it to have a negative connotation. Why is that important you ask? Because it identifies how you see me, and if I believed the reference, how I see myself. Let’s “Fact Check” my submission:
• Black Cat
• Black Magic
• Black Market
• Black Heart
• Black Eye
People size me up as a Black man in seconds. The lens that I am viewed through was developed from the lens of the people that taught them. So what exactly are they evaluating in those seconds?
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has studied first impressions with fellow psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske for over 15 years. What they discovered, and is chronicled in Cuddy’s book, is that in those seconds that I am being summed up, the average person is answering two questions about me: can he be trusted and can I respect this person? The immediate answer to both questions for the average person is “no”. Their assessment is based on the color of my skin which identifies me as Black.
They arrive at this answer based on their belief system and the evidence that has been provided for them in an effort to prove this assessment is true.
During my 14 years on the Houston Police Department, when I was observed in my police uniform in a predominately White neighborhood, the assessment was that I could be trusted and respected. In that same neighborhood when I was not in uniform, I was treated quite differently and it was clear that the answer to the two questions posed above was “no”.
Now you may think that this article is about the injustice of racism or how so called “Black people” are unjustly treated in America; well that narrative has been told many times and it is true, however, that is not the purpose of this paper.
Viktor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Shhhhh, wait a minute, do you hear that? What is it? It is an audible silence coming from the Black Community. There has not been a recent situation of a White Police Officer shooting an unarmed Black man (at least not that has been publicized in the last month). But wait, does that mean that ALL is well in the Black Community?
Far from it my friends. I could get very technical here and give you a ton of statistics, however I won’t bore you.
I grew up in a low income Government Project home until I was 9 years old. My mother, Bobbie N. Jones decided to go to war. What was different about her approach was she fought for what she wanted and not against what she did not want. She did not wait for an event to push her to demonstrate negative emotions to highlight injustice. She demonstrated that the same energy could be used to highlight the greatest injustice in the Black Community and that is the silence you hear right now.
Why aren’t Black Leaders, politicians, and clergy raging about Black on Black crime? Why can’t I hear their loud, passionate voices on the apathy of the Black Community on the value of education? Why aren’t we out cleaning and beautifying our communities, rather than piling up junk in our driveways, yards and street corners? Why does our spending habits say that we are more concerned about the price of everything and the value of nothing?
Will we continue to wait for a handout? I believe that Government Assistance Programs should be a hand up, not a hand out. I believe these programs should lead to independence, not dependence. When I hear “Make America Great Again”, when was it great for Black America? What is the true meaning of that for me?
My mother armed herself for this battle with more education and a great work ethic. This single mother of four decided to go back to school and become a nurse. She taught us to do what we could do to make life happen because of us and not wait for someone else to change. She taught us to always pursue our ambitions and dreams and to never blame things or circumstances on our failures or other people.
The answer is in the silence. It is in this silence that we can arm ourselves with the arsenal of a great education. It is in this silence that we can clean up our communities. It is in this silence that we can rid communities of poison pills and loose cannons who refuse to be a healthy part of a positive movement forward. It is in this silence that we can learn how to positively communicate with each other and consolidate the churches in our communities. It is in this silence that we can start new businesses that positively support the growth of the community.
What is the REAL Injustice in the Black Community? It is the silence that appears when there is seemingly nothing to fight against.
If progress is to be made, it will come from within the Black community and within each individual in the community. When we accept personal responsibility for that truth we will find the answer which resides in the silence. If we choose to step up and advance the Black community into one that is a positive, constructive, contributing community that benefits Black people, it will also be positive and constructive for our society as a whole.
Please give me your feed-forward in the comment section below!