Does Alexandria’s recreation programs fit your needs? or anybody’s needs? See Pages 6 and 7 in The Light. Click here: Sept. 15, 2009
The news of the recent homicide on Levin Street in Alexandria, La., has generated a lot of talk about what needs to be done to prevent such happenings in communities that seem to be plagued with everything from low employment to a lack of education to drugs.
As I’ve listened to the powers that be, many thoughts have crossed my mind about what could and should be done. Try as I might to prevent me from generating an egotistical stance, I could not.
Here’s why it’s personal.
After reading a recent Essence magazine article regarding whether or not black women have a pool of black men from which to date, mate and marry, I began to take offense.
In the article, “Where is the love?,” Essence interviewed author Hill Harper about his book “The Conversation.” Harper said he wrote the book because “black women and black men have spent the last 40 years just surviving. If we want to thrive, we have to build healthy relationships.”
Harper’s statistics indicate that 64 percent of African-American women have never been married, while 57 percent of white women have wed at least once in their lifetime.”
What in the world does this have to do with Levin Street in Alexandria’s District 1? It has everything to do with Levin Street and all of the other streets in neighborhoods where blacks live.
Harper suggests that black women should take a page from Michelle Obama’s book and consider a man’s potential rather than their current status. Harper said, “(Michelle) dated potential. Most women are unwilling to do that.”
Here’s what I think of Harper Hill’s assessment: It’s a lie. Black women have always dated “potential.” If we’re going to use Michelle Obama as the standard then we must say that Barrack Obama gave her something for which she could work.
Whether we want to believe it or not, black women have always been the driving force in their relationships whether the man had potential or not.
We can talk about the problems in our neighborhoods until kingdom come, but until we get back to the basics of families taking care of each other and the neighborhood being one big family looking after every member, our boys will not grow to be men who have enough potential for women to nurture.
Yes, it’s true that Barrack Obama’s father, like many of our black fathers, did not contribute to his son’s life in any meaningful way. But, it’s also true that Barrack Obama had a mother and extended family to fill in the gaps. He didn’t meet his future wife with nothing to contribute. He had an education. He had a job. He had no baby-mama drama. He had no police record. He had no drug problem. Of course, this is as we know it.
Black women, I believe, understand that no man is perfect. However, I also believe that until we deal with the systemic problems in our communities, we will have no boys to grow up to be men filled with potential, promise and possibilities.
When President Obama, in my opinion, spoke out of line by saying that theCambridge, Mass. Police Department acted “stupidly” in its arrest of Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates, I asked myself: “Why is it that some black people, without knowing all of the facts of a particular incident involving another black person come to their defense regardless of what they are accused?
The evidence against could be rock-solid, and proves without doubt, that they are “guilty as sin,” but yet, there are those “coming to the defense of my brother and sister blacks” who immediately sides with the guilty party(s) mainly because they are black like them.
Here are two examples to prove my point.
When the news came out that Michael Vick was arrested and charged for allegedly arranging and participating in dog fighting, a majority of black people around this country became quite upset and angry because they perceived that “The Man” (whites) was trying to take a well-liked, highly successful black man down. Michael vehemently denied that he had participated in dog fighting, and his denial had blacks believing in his innocence.
All the evidence was there to show that he was guilty, but despite the evidence pointing to his guilt, some blacks defended him mainly because he was black. But as we know now, Michael came clean and confessed his guilt to knowing all the facts about his dog fighting ring. Boy, was that a shocker to those “always-believe-the-black-person” blacks.
And how can I not mention the infamous “Jena Six” case where blacks around this state and around this nation rallied, and rallied big time, for the cause of six black boys who were charged with attempted murder for their part in a simple school fight. Blacks were outraged that something like this could happen, and just by hearing the news of the charges, they jumped into action to defend these boys without knowing all the facts and circumstances behind their case. They saw black skin color and nothing else.
Every one of these boys proclaimed their innocence, and that’s all it took for some blacks to stand behind them and defend them for almost two years. But when some of these boys began getting into more trouble and began appearing as they were celebrities, some blacks who were there for them in the beginning gradually shifted away from their cause of defending them. Many of them regretted that they had taken off work and traveled long distances to rally for them because they soon discovered that these boys had always being involved in some form of criminal behavior. And as we now know, they were absolutely right to do so because every one of these boys confessed to having a part in the beating of their white classmate.
What I’m saying is just because a person’s skin color is black, and they have proclaimed their innocence, that’s no reason to run to their defense when they have been accused and charged with a crime or anything else.
Having the same black skin color does not obligate us to be our brother or sister’s keeper.