Black Empowerment 2008 – Increasing Quality of Community

Africans in America are assailed by deplorable conditions, such as; lowest amount of wealth, highest unemployment, lowest income, highest crime rate, and fastest death rate. These conditions, according to Sociologists are the results of poor economic development. This paper will discuss alternative approaches to developing the Black community by establishing Black businesses.

THE PROBLEM

Our investigation of the deplorable conditions faced by the Black masses resulted in discovery of a twofold problem:

o Unequal Wealth Distribution

o Inappropriate Behavior Patterns

Unequal Wealth Distribution

We must understand that wealth is money you receive because of ownership of property – real estate, stocks and bonds, or business. Its money you continue to receive for as long as you own the property. On the other hand, income is money earned by selling your labor. The issue with income is if you do not work, the money stops. Black Americans have abundant income (Approximately 700 billion dollars) and minimal wealth.

The wealth gap is widening between mainstream White society and Black America. According to the report “The State of the Dream 2004” by United for a Fair Economy, African Americans were 13% of the population in 2001, but owned just 3% (including home equity) of the median family wealth. If we adjust for 2001 dollars, that means $121,000 for White households and $19,000 for Black households. Furthermore, it will take until 2099 (98 years) to reach parity.

Why is wealth accumulation so important? Wealth accumulation is vital because it determines an ethnic group’s social acceptance, access to functional schools, number of competitive businesses, equal justice, essential health care, personal comfort, and the length and quality of their lives.

Inappropriate Behavior Patterns (IBP)

Unequal Wealth Distribution is not totally to blame for Black America’s lowly economic status and accompanying quality of life. Another major cause is what Anderson (2001) calls Inappropriate Behavior Patterns (IBP) (Actions that result in Blacks participating in there own subordination or exploitation). [1] Inappropriate behavior patterns stem from the social conditioning of slavery. Some say IBP results from Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder.

Dr. Kenneth P. Clark, in a monumental piece states:

“In order to fully grasp the magnitude of our current problems, we must reopen the books on the events of slavery. Our objective should not be to cry stale tears for the past, or to rekindle old hatreds for past injustices. Instead, we should seek to enlighten our path of today by better understanding where and how the lights were turned out yesterday.

We should also understand that slavery should be viewed as a starting point for understanding the ‘African-American psyche, and not as an end point.

Therefore, the study of the African-American psyche should include psycho-history, but it should not be exclusively concerned with events in the past.” [2]

As a result, Slavery Conditioning gave birth to IBP that weakens the competitive impulse in African-Americans. Competitiveness declines to the point where we fabricate rationale to justify behavior of outsiders rather than ally with members of their own group to compete against outsiders.

Moreover, Inappropriate Behavior Patterns teach Whites and others how to treat us. If we want to be respected, then we must change what we are teaching our competitors.

Examples of destructive IBP are:

o Community Division

o Collusion with the Competition

o Seeking the Approval Of Whites

o White Ice is Colder

o Attitude Towards Work

o Attitude Towards Material Objects

Community Division

The most damaging inappropriate behavior faced by African-Americans is Community Division. The slave master fostered it among the slaves in order to diffuse any unification efforts. The slave makers knew that disunited communities would be easy prey for continued control. All types of division devices prevented the slaves from coming together.

The major separation was between the house and field workers. The house workers saw themselves as privileged. They had less physical labor, wore better clothes, ate better and took care of the personal needs of the master and his household.

Just to be physically closer to the master gave the house slave a sense of superiority over his fellow field slaves.

The slave master used his house slaves as a buffer zone against the field slaves. He encouraged them to feel superior, be loyal to his cause and take his side during any disputes. Because of this social conditioning, the slave master gained some slaves that assisted and identified with him completely.

Community Division in the Black community persists today. Rather than house versus field we have, establishment, grassroots, college-educated, non college-educated, Christians, Muslims, Baptists, Methodists, fraternities, sororities, schools, white collar, blue collar, republicans, democrats, neighborhoods and hundreds of other bases for division. The origin of all these divisions comes from the same source as it did 400 years ago — an outsider who profits from the separation.

Black Americans, just as we did 400 years ago, spend more time arguing and justifying separate goals than we do working on common goals. Slavery Conditioning has psyched us out to feel our separate problems are more important than our shared problems.

Collusion with the Competition

History has taught us that coalitions usually operate at the expense of the grassroot Black majority. This type of inappropriate behavior occurs when Blacks partner with other ethnic groups.

It is a problem because so many members of the Black establishment [8] use it. Coalescing encourages Blacks to work with groups who already have articulated goals, rather than organize goals of our own. Black participation gives credibility and strength to sexual preference, ethnic, class, gender, disabled, and Spanish-speaking groups, some of whom compete openly with us for wealth and power and openly oppose Black gains.

During Collusion with the Competition African-Americans, lose by default due to the inappropriate behavior of Black establishment leaders who seek cross-group alliances, White approval, and corporate dollars at the expense of their own people. In addition, if funds are available, the trickle-down theory takes effect and usually leaves us with leftovers after sexual preference, gender, ethnic, religious, disabled and Spanish speaking language groups receive what they want or need.

Being a Good Negro

Slavery conditioning produces an inappropriate behavior that comes from the old social or Southern racial etiquette. It occurs when Blacks, especially from the South or Midwest, avoid situations that make them appear free, independent and about determining their own destiny.

A Good Negro or “safe” African-American seeks White approval. They are perfectly happy to go to work or to church, look at television and then go to bed. To them whatever happens to Blacks in the community or anywhere else is not their concern. Good Negroes want to appear happy, content, compromising and non-competitive. Those who behave in this manner will neither speak up nor speak out on Black issues, nor will they defend against Black injustices.

White Ice Is Colder

Another type of inappropriate behavior that manifests from social conditioning is the belief that White Ice Is Colder. African-Americans conditioned by school, religion, and all the mainstream social institutions believe that Whites are inherently superior. As a result, the superior quality of the White man’s ice remains a commonly accepted expression in the Black community. Anderson relates an incident where he was witness to the behavior:

“Standing with a friend in front of his office building in Tallahassee, Florida, I saw a Black man drive up to a Black-owned grocery store. He got out of his car and walked over to the ice machine. He picked up several bags of ice, examined them, put them back into the ice machine, and then walked across the street to a White-owned liquor store. There, he went to the ice machine and took out two bags of ice. He examined them, and then went to the drive-through window to pay for them.

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