The Pardu

The Pardu
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

"The Wattree Chronicle": Black People Are Still Waiting For Santa Clause?

Repost from......

The Wattree Chronicle



An Ugly Truth: Why Some Black People Are Still Waiting For Santa Clause

Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
An Ugly Truth:
Why Some Black People Are Still Waiting For Santa Clause
Whenever I hear the Name Belafonte the first word that comes to mind is "Class." That’s the only word appropriate for the way Harry Belafonte represented Black manhood in the fifties and early sixties. During a time when the few other Black celebrities with the crossover appeal of Belafonte were trying their best to make the White world forget that they were Black, Harry Belafonte flaunted his Blackness with dignity and pride. This soft-spoken, intelligent, and self-assured Black man with the undulating body drove White women crazy for just a taste of forbidden fruit, while at the very same time giving the White establishment a glimpse of things to come.

During that period America still viewed Black men in the Steppin’ Fetchit tradition, so for the most part, the only Black men that we saw or heard in the media were people like Lightin’ and Amos n Andy. So brothers like Harry Belafonte were sorely needed to upgrade our image, but ironically, Belafonte was so self-assured, and moved about the White world so effortlessly that there were a few in the Black community who called him an Uncle Tom. Such people will always be around. No matter how impressive a person is, you can always depend on a handful of haters pointing out that one of his shoestrings was shorter than the other.  

But, of course, calling Belafonte an Uncle Tom was ridiculous. Harry Belafonte was on the cutting edge when it came to defining the modern American Black man. Again, Belafonte was one of America’s first looks at what the modern Black man - at his best - was to become. While on the other hand, those who called him an Uncle Tom represented a throwback to the slave mentality of the Black man at his worse, with a mentality that dictates that any Black man who doesn’t walk around looking at his feet, or who is comfortable in casually dealing with White folks eyeball-to-eyeball, can’t be trusted. 

I’ve come to call that mentality the Smiley/West syndrome. You can always spot these people with just a glance. While they don’t act overtly subservient to White folks, and they’re even militant at times, their interaction with the White world always have a needy, self-conscious tinged to it, as though they’re seeking admiration, or recognition, from the White world for being "brave" enough to speak up, and smart enough to speak to him in his terms. Thus, while on the surface, they seem to be speaking on behalf of Black people, the message beneath the surface seems to be a desperate plea for acknowledgment, for the "Great White Father" to give them recognition for being "special" - "See, I ain’t like those other niggas!"

Such people are frauds. They’re trying to play both ends against the middle. On the one hand, they’re trying to gain the admiration of Black people for having the courage to speak up on their behalf, while on the other, they’re winking at the White man and desperately seeking his approval. That’s why they were so hostile toward people like Harry Belafonte in the past, and Barack Obama today. People like Belafonte and Obama have attainted the stature and genuine respect of the White establishment that the frauds so desperately seek, so their response to people like Belafonte and Obama is like that of a child who resents their brother or sister because their daddy seems to like them more.

There’s clear evidence of this syndrome in the career of Cornel West. For a man who claims to love "his people" so desperately, it’s very curious that he’s never invested his lauded skills as an educator in effort to educate Black kids. Cornel West has never taught at a predominantly Black school in his entire career. He’s chosen to educate the kids of the White elite at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale instead - and a good rule of thumb when trying to assess the character of a person, be they preacher, politician, or potentate, is to ignore what they say, and watch what they do.

There are far too many Black people around who still suffer from this slave mentality. They’ve been convinced over the years that their own people are inferior, so unlike the people of most cultures, whose prime motivation is to come together and help move their people forward, the prime motivation of far too many Black people is to prove that they’re somehow superior to their own people. Then, when they come across other people who demonstrate the excellence, and brilliance, that thrives within the Black community, instead of embracing these people, they feel challenged, and become hostile. 

As a direct result of that attitude by some, the very Black people with the knowledge, foresight, and character to help us move forward, are often severely scrutinized and brutally attacked, and that’s exactly what’s taking place with respect to President Obama. Instead of just letting the President do his job like any other president, people like Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are constantly demanding that he PROVE that he cares about Black people. It’s ridiculous - the man’s wife and children are Black, and he’s Black!

But it’s more than just ridiculous; it hurts the Black community, and it hurts the nation. It makes the President’s job twice as hard, because in order for the President to be effective, he has to have the solid support of the people. So this constant insinuation by his Black critics that he’s somehow "not Black enough," not only dilutes his Black support, but their constant demands that he do something SPECIAL for the Black community to prove his Blackness serves as grist for the mill of his political opponents. His opponents use such demands to both further dilute the Black community by claiming that he should be doing more for Black people, and then flipping the coin and telling the President’s White supporters that all he cares about is delivering special treatment for Black people. Thus, everything he does is scrutinize and evaluated in that light. As a result, everything he does that happens to benefit any group, is turned around and used against him as evidence that he doesn’t care for another.    

It also hurts the Black community because it prevents President Obama from using his bully pulpit to even suggest things that the Black community could do to improve its plight, and that’s something that’s needed very badly. A prime example of that was when, then, Senator Obama, was running for president, he gave a Father’s Day speech suggesting that Black fathers step up to the plate and take responsibility for their children. The next day all Hell broke loose. Dr. Boyce Watkins - who it now turns out is an undercover Black conservative - wrote an article in "Your Black World" wanting to know why Obama singled out only Black deadbeat dads. It seemed to me that, that should have been obvious.  

What makes this problem so tenacious, and so easily seized upon by Black demagogues, is that Black people have been on the receiving end of such groundlessly slanderous criticism over the centuries that we’ve become overly sensitive to ALL criticism - even when it’s constructive and warranted. We’ve got to get past that and learn to follow truth. We’ve got to train our minds to always give truth priority over ideology, and learn to follow truth wherever it leads and regardless to whose ox it gores. If we can simply teach ourselves to do just that one thing, it would put us "Miles Ahead" (pun intended) of every other group in America.

Truth is much like physical pain. While it can be severely uncomfortable, it can also alert us to serious problems that need to be addressed. So again, we should always follow truth wherever it leads, and then, if we don’t like where it leads us, instead of trying to deny truth, we should take the necessary action to modify what it reveals. 

If we can do that, we’ll see many of the problems in the Black community begin to melt away, because truth will tell us that we’re both the primary source of many of our problems, and the primary source of their solutions. Truth would tell us that more money passes through the Black community than through many countries, so if we would learn to work together and patronize our own businesses, we could become a nation within a nation. Truth would also tell us that we need to begin to teach our children the value of knowledge from the day they’re born, and we should also teach them about the stupidity of killing one another over a "territory" where they don’t own one blade of grass. 

Truth would also tell us that our churches should be doing a lot more in the community than just preaching and collecting money every Sunday. It’s not enough to just recite the words of Jesus. Jesus’s words were designed to teach us how to actually live, not just TALK about how to live.  

One of the things that Jesus said was, "If you claim to be the children of Abraham, you’d be doing the works of Abraham." Are our churches doing the works of Abraham? I don’t think so. If they were there wouldn’t be a hungry child in America. So again, truth would tell us that our Churches, and the preachers who preside over our churches, spend far too much time TELLING us about Jesus, and far too little time living like Jesus. 

Take the issue of poverty, for example. One of the biggest expenses for many working mothers is childcare. Why aren’t our churches helping to relieve that burden by keeping the churches open during the week and using some of their tithes to provide affordable childcare for working mothers? They could also hire unemployed mothers to staff the operation, and use retired teachers within their congregation to help educate the children. I think that’s what Jesus would have done.  

So until we open our eyes to the truth, we cannot correct one of the most serious legacies of slavery - the belief by many that Black people have a moral obligation to remain ignorant. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated we think we’ve become, we are still the product of a racist environment, and as such, many of us are just as racist toward other Black people as any racist, sheet-wearing, barefoot, Hillbilly - and in many cases, even more so. So in order to neutralize that inbred legacy of slavery, it is incumbent upon us to expand our minds. 

The human mind was designed to hate ignorance, so true pride can only be had through the acquisition of knowledge. Thus, until such time that we obtain the true pride that comes with knowledge, we are doomed to continue to hate ourselves, which will make it impossible for us to come together to fight for the independence, equality, and justice necessary to sustain a viable culture. So the long and the short of it is, until we learn to respect the power of knowledge, we will remain enslaved - period.

Eric L. Wattree 
.Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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