The problems are so familiar simply because they are never solved; they are just in rotation. Black folks, our problems are always so familiar because we never really resolve them.
It seems that we are on the rotation and just have replay after replay. Warmed-over leftovers. What I want to know is why? I do not need to hear solutions from the people who have no clue what it is like to be black in this world.
There are real solutions to the problems we share. We are still living in a world that is really unbalanced, and we suffer these difficulties simply because we have been used for free labor to build the economy of a country that still disrespects and devalues us.
The fact is no matter what is said by others: “Get over it.” “You weren’t my slave, why do I have to be held accountable for that?” “Why don’t you just get over it, and start from today?” “How did I profit from slavery?” “My family worked for everything we have. My grandfather built what he gave us from the ground up.” If this were really true, it would be cool, but it is not.
No matter how much you hate to admit, refuse to acknowledge, slavery was the driving force behind the economy of this country.
If you look at the calendar, the emancipation of slaves and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement were very recent as the United States is a baby country in comparison to other nations. The profits made on the backs of our fore-parents are a debt owed to their descendants.
The fact is as a people we are owed more than anyone could ever repay. It is difficult to see my people so lost and living so far beneath our potential. We value things more than people. The designer labels that we covet shows our ignorance of our self- worth.
We seek to gain money and things instead of self-respect and pride and community. There are so many things we need to repair inside our communities that we are often running in dysfunctional circles trying to find what we believe to be the “American Dream.”
The only community that has no real financial base is us. Where are our stores, our banks, our self-owned Anything?
Before integration, we were forced to have our own because they were excluding us from the things we needed or treated us like less than when we had to go into their business just to buy food. Now that we think we have arrived, we overlook any black-owned business and go give our dollars to the white man using the excuse that “black folks just won’t do right.”
This is ridiculous. What makes us believe this age-old fallacy? There was a time that the only ones we could deal with fairly was each other, now it is so far removed from our minds that we will talk our brothers and sisters down not even knowing if what we are saying has any validity.
I read a story recently where a Chinese man told a Jamaican man that the black man is the stupidest man on earth. The Jamaican man was insulted and wanted to know why the Chinese man would say such an offensive thing.
The Chinese man told the Jamaican man that if a white man opened a store right next to the black man selling the same exact thing for the same dollar amount, the Jamaican man would help the white man put the black man out of business.
The unfortunate fact is that many times we will patronize a white-owned business just because. This is rooted in slavery. We still carry the heavy weight of the past around, and until we start on a different path, we will never be able to hold our own in this country.
We spend our dollars outside of our community daily and make no effort (for the most part) to be sellers instead of buyers. We are too afraid to pool our funds and open our own businesses in our own communities to keep our dollars in our communities to strengthen our base as a people.
We cannot allow our money to be spent trying to keep up with the Joneses when the Joneses are just as far behind the eight-ball as we are. Living in this small town, we think this is the way it has to be, and it is different in the city. For the most part it is not.
The fact is the entrepreneurs that live in the cities are no better off than we are. They are without a business community that is a true reflection of the black community they call home as well.
We see other races doing exactly what we will not, but all we do is give lip service and still run to purchase any designer label even if it is a fake.
Imagine if we would work as a true community what we would be able to accomplish. Imagine how far we would be able to go if we stopped worrying about carrying a $300-$400 purse with some white man’s initials on it or name-brand tennis shoes with some ball player’s logo on them.
This is not un-reasonable and could be accomplished if we really put forth a real effort toward truly doing what is best for the future of our people.
Cynthia Perry-Crawford lives in Valdosta.