THE BLOG

Looking for Televised Insight Into Black Condition Is Hopeless

Jul 29, 2013 | Updated Sep 28, 2013
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Televised simple-mindedness is not beholden to any particular race, political bent or sexual orientation. We should not be surprised that a cross-section of TV talking heads cannot identify the root cause of rampant black-on-black violence.

It is not poverty. It is not the disintegration of the black family. It is not cultural rot.

Hopelessness is at the root of the violence plaguing poor, black neighborhoods. Poverty, family dysfunction and cultural decay contribute to the feeling of hopelessness pervasive throughout black inner-city communities.

Solomon, the Bible's wisest man, said "hope deferred makes the heart-sick." There are sick hearts in America's black ghettos. When you strip a man of hope, you have stripped him of his humanity, his respect for his own life and the life of others.

Poverty, family dysfunction and cultural decay are not unique to the black American experience. All races experience those problems. What is unique to the black experience is the feeling of hopelessness born of 400 years of unabated legalized discrimination.

Slavery deprived black people of hope. When it ended and hope-filled black Americans responded by participating fully in this country's democracy by becoming judges and winning elected offices, the majority community responded by instituting Jim Crow laws designed to extinguish hope.

When Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil-rights movement put an end to Jim Crow, the opponents of racial equality assassinated and incarcerated black political leaders and their sympathizers, and President Richard Nixon responded by concocting America's war on drugs. Jim Crow has been replaced by mass incarceration, and now there are more black men under the jurisdiction of our criminal justice system than were enslaved in 1850.

Hopelessness. Sick hearts. Men stripped of their humanity.

This is what is at the foundation of black-on-black violence -- a relentless, never-ending string of political and legal policies designed to demoralize the poor black masses.

America's corporate interest set the demoralization and self-hatred to (rap) music, installing mythical kings of the hopeless jungle as pop-culture icons and role models. Their high-paying jobs are to glorify the degradation and define black people as unworthy of full citizenship and respect.

Bodie Broadus, one of the great characters from The Wire, stopped caring about living once he realized the game was rigged and he would likely never escape his plight as a pawn in the drug game. Black men in America have been made to feel like pawns in a game they have no control.

Occasional glimmers of hope are quickly extinguished.

America did not enact Jim Crow laws immediately after slaves were freed. For a little more than 10 years, black people seized their newfound freedom and elected black men to the House of Representatives and Senate. After the civil-rights movement, there was a delay before President Reagan financed Nixon's drug war and President Clinton doubled-down on it to win support in the South.

Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency is another respite from utter hopelessness. His seat in the White House is the main reason poor black people have chosen political activism over civil unrest in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict.

The opponents of equality have reacted to this latest glimmer of hope by getting the Supreme Court to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering voting districts and moving to implement stricter voting guidelines designed to suppress minority voting.

Other than Native Americans, no ethnic or racial group in America has had to withstand such a sustained attack on its liberties. Poor black people have been made to feel they have no recourse when it comes to injustice. They have been deprived of hope, brainwashed into buying into their 'niggadom' and pitted against each other since slavery.

The concept of a group of people resorting to violence when left with no recourse against injustice should not be foreign to anyone with an elementary understanding of American history. Taxation without representation caused American heroes to turn violent against their former countrymen.

Had George Washington, Sam Adams and Ethan Allen been subjected to the mind-altering, self-esteem-destroying degradation of enslavement, there's a damn good chance they would've turned on each other rather than their colonizers.

The uniqueness of the black American experience and the side effects of that experience are not difficult to relate to, convey or understand. It's just that most pundits and broadcasters are far too lazy, scared and convinced of viewer ignorance to go beyond simple-minded, attention-grabbing sound bites. Or, their political agenda dictates they support the continued demoralization of poor black people.

On Sunday, George Will, a pundit of considerable intellectual heft, excoriated the virtually all-black citizens of Detroit for the city's financial collapse. His critique had merit.

"Forty-seven percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate," Will said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. "Seventy-nine percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don't have a fiscal problem. They have a cultural collapse. ...

"For 60 years, they voted for incompetents, malcontents and in some cases criminals."

All true. But, as far as I know, Will never indicts the drivers of America's broader cultural collapse.

Six years ago, America filed bankruptcy due to the pervasive greed, degenerateness and criminality of the virtually all-white citizens of Wall Street and the banking industry. If there is written or video evidence of Will excoriating that group for its cultural collapse, please point me to it.

It's this sort of intellectual inconsistency/inequality and subtly disguised divisiveness that fuels the political and legal policies at the root of black American hopelessness.