Friday, February 05, 2010

The Real Dangers To The Survival Of African-American Culture

 Copyright By R2C2H2
The Real Dangers To The Survival Of African-American Culture

Sagging pants on young men, shaky finances, unstable and toxic relationships, illiterate teens (and parents), deceitful politicians, weak men, irrational women, failed institutions, and a hundred other social illnesses plague the African-American community in 2010. Forty-five million lost souls, who continue to impotently witness the internal decay and destruction of their cultural history…400-plus years in-the-making, and now on the brink of collapse. The primary excuse given is that we are still victims of oppression and racism, and that our men are still treated as boys in a man’s world; that the African-American community is “just a generation or two” removed from slavery. Even if those things were true, sagging pants and violent mistreatment of our women is a fairly new phenomenon.

Disrespect for senior citizens, armed car-jackings, epidemic drug sales and use, the mass criminalization of teens, and a complete disregard for education are all issues that have nothing to do with slavery. Irresponsible men, greedy women, selfish entertainers and athletes, and unconcerned teachers are now rooted in the cultural fabric of the African-American community. The self-destructive behavior of our boys is only a symptom of the larger sickness that must someday surely overtake our remaining cultural strength. Our 60 percent divorce rate, and the 51 percent rate of women over 35 years old, who have never married or had children, are factors as crucial as the four million confused, short-sighted, illiterate, and economically dysfunctional urban teens in our midst.

Our children are “intellectually blind,” walking through life without even a cane to find their way. Looking at their plight another way, we could say that our young boys are in a fight for their cultural lives…completely unarmed. And that young ladies in their cadre are ignorant, poor, lustful, star-struck, confused, and quite vulnerable to almost anything that comes along…including domestic violence and disease. Our seniors are frightened, economically ravaged, and unable to negotiate our modern world. And our families rarely have dinner together, except for the tattered cultural remnants of “Sunday Dinner” at grandma’s house, or for special occasions, such as Christmas.

Even the revered “Black Church” must now be referred to loosely as the “faith-based” community, with doors open only from nine-to-five, and no social justice being carried out for the grandchildren of civil rights veterans who attended mass meetings, risking life and limb, to see a better day for their children’s children.

The African-American experience in this country was always fraught with danger, deception, disease (the Tuskegee Experiment), and dislocation. Our cultural journey always moved ahead, often disjointed, mostly sporadic, but forward-moving none the less. The Cultural strength needed was always there, and saw victories in Topeka, Little Rock, Montgomery, Birmingham, and in 2008, in Washington, D.C., with the election of an African-American President. There are millionaire athletes and entertainers, and successful businesspeople among the ranks of modern black folks. But 95 percent of the African-American population still lags behind in every economic, social and educational statistic worth measuring.

I’m proud to be an American of African ancestry, and there is still hope for our cultural survival. But not as long as we continue to say “things are fine,” and these boys should be able to earn a living, no matter how raunchy and degrading their statements and video offerings may be. “Thug Life” has dominated the African-American cultural street experience for nearly three decades, and the evidence is starting to show what a complete lack of intellectual development can do to a race of people. Materialism has replaced morals, greed has replaced generosity, and “whatever” has replaced real work.

The Harlem Renaissance served a very useful and specific purpose, and now we need another “renaissance” to repair and strengthen the single thread that still holds together the tattered fabric that is the African-American experience in the United States. If we do nothing, as we have done, we will have no one to blame but ourselves… and it won’t really matter, because no one will even care to continue the struggle that gave us this opportunity in the first place.

Sagging pants on young men, poor finances, toxic relationships, illiterate teens, crooked politicians, weak men, irrational women, failed institutions, and a hundred other social illnesses are what we must overcome…just to keep our cultural dreams alive. Those are the real dangers to the survival of African-American culture as we know it.

(Anthony Nichelson is program director for the Citadel Radio Group and founder of the 110 Institute. 

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