Our Best And Our Brightest

copyright © 2009 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

For years, many blacks have just come to accept that integration was the path to success in America. Blacks who have been able to have deftly navigated the integration maze either through employment, education, or athletic achievement. And once reaching the pinnacle of their success they have chosen to leave their neighborhoods, friends, and communities to relocate into white America where they take on mythical status as being more than black. To whites they become not like those other blacks and therefore become more acceptable to their white sensibilities. And in some cases blacks believe they have some mythical characteristics that separate them from other blacks. In their wake they leave behind a community that is devoid of role models and success stories. They leave behind a community that is becoming more financially and morally bankrupt.

Before integration and the black man’s desertion of the black neighborhood the only place for successful black men was within the black community. They didn’t have the option of leaving and joining the majority population so their influence and their example were there for all to see and emulate. With the exodus of these heroes the black community has been left with smoke hounds, drunks, and prison gang leaders for masculine role models. And people wonder why young black men are doing so well? When you remove the presence of successful men in a community a vacuum is created and as with any vacuum something or someone is always there to fill it. In the case of the black community it has been filled by despair, hopelessness, and this penitentiary mentality. The heroes we have been left with are those who exploit and pander to violence, criminality, and gangsterism.

I remember when I was growing up we had professional athletes, doctors, and professional men as neighbors. We interacted with them daily and got to see that a black man could be successful without resorting to dealing drugs, robbing people, and killing their brothers. These men provided hope just by their very presence to many young black men who otherwise would have been consumed by their circumstances. Even children who did not have fathers at home still could go out into the community and see that there had been others who were able to overcome their surroundings and reach to another level. As blacks have been able to wrestle success from the clutches of an economic system that for so long had ignored and marginalized them they began to seek the safety and comfort of the suburbs. While I have no problem with anyone who wants to make a better life for their families in the suburbs, I do believe that we all have to be cognizant of the consequences of our actions. As more and more successful blacks have migrated to the suburbs in their wake they have left a more engrained and intransigent form of poverty, a poverty that feeds on itself and creates more poverty.

In my opinion there are two ways to be successful. One is to migrate to the suburbs and integrate into an established system of success. This of course is the easy route to take because the only work involved is assimilation into the larger culture. The second and by far the more difficult way is to stay where you are and rebuild the institutions that you have. By doing this you create and enforce your own definition of success which may be different from the larger culture. The key question in all of this I guess is do successful black men owe any loyalty to their communities besides trying to sell them sneakers or an occasional drive through the hood? Each person must answer this question within themselves, but as a Christian I am not only judged on what I do but also on the opportunities I have to do the right thing and do not.

Our black youth in our communities are at a crisis point. They are angry and for good reason. When they needed a black man to protect them and to lead them there was no one positive there. Instead what was there was gangs, criminals, and disengaged fathers. No longer were there positive role models to emulate and find a communal sense of pride in. As more and more black kids are growing up without fathers the need for hope has never been greater. These kids need to know that they matter in a world that has basically ignored, shunned, and made them feel invisible. They continue to cry out in dysfunctional ways, but it is the only way they know how to say we are hurting and no one seems to care. It is time for all of us to come together not as a white community or a black community but as one community to rebuild and restore our promise to one another. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper.

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy ~ Charles de Montesquieu

With A Friend Like Him

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

As if things in America were not hard enough for blacks, what with Barack Obama having to explain and denounce his relationship with his “angry” black pastor to ease the fears of his white supporters. It is amazing to me how we allow and accept comments from whites without so much as a whimper, but let a black man say them and all hell breaks loose. It is this double standard and hypocrisy that created the “invisible” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I call him invisible because unfortunately for him he is too black to be white and too white to be black. He is lost in a false reality that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. He is a black man that hates black people, what a terrible place that must be.

Justice Thurgood Marshall was the first black man appointed to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Marshall had a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney many times arguing before the Court he would someday join. He brought an appreciation and an understanding of the plight of the black man in the American criminal and social justice systems. He understood that the laws of this land had been skewed in favor of white men and against women and minorities. This was the Justice that Clarence Thomas was nominated to replace. Many wanted and expected the nominee to replace Justice Marshall to bring a similar sensitivity to the Court.

Justice Thomas was not that person. I can accept that he wants to believe that he lives in a color blind society and that racial prejudice is ancient history. I can accept that he wants to interpret the laws written by imperfect and bias people as if they weren’t. I can even accept the fact that he doesn’t believe that after centuries of prejudice and bias that blacks do not need help in leveling the playing field. I can never understand it, but I can accept it. What I cannot accept is when a black man who doesn’t want to help other blacks does want to intentionally harm other blacks. I can not accept it from the dope dealers that prowl our neighborhoods selling poison to the their brothers and sisters. I can not accept it from the gang bangers who have replaced the Klan as the biggest threat to other black men. I can not accept it from a member of our highest Court concealing it as equal protection under the law.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction and death sentence of a Louisiana man who killed his estranged wife in a jealous rage, finding that the trial judge “committed clear error” in excluding black jurors.

By 7 to 2, the court ruled in favor of Allen Snyder, whose case came before the justices for the second time last December, two years after they had sent it back to the Louisiana Supreme Court and told that tribunal to consider whether the jury selection had been tainted by racial bias. NY Times

In the case that the Court overturned the prosecutor had dismissed all the potential black jurors from the jury pool for ridiculous reasons, reasons that were not used to excuse the white jurors. There were two Justices that voted against the majority opinion. Mind you, this is a case involving a black man being tried by an all-white jury and the sole black Justice on the Court did not see a problem with this scenario. Once again Justice Thomas displays why he is despised by many of his fellow black Americans. You are telling me that 7 whites including the Chief Justice who is by no means friendly to black causes finds fault with this case, but Justice Thomas can’t see a problem.

Ok Justice Thomas, you have proven that you don’t want to help your fellow black citizens or represent their causes, but why would you want to harm those same people and causes? As much as I despise the dope dealers and gang bangers, I despise Clarence Thomas more because due to his position on the Court he has the capabilities to do more harm to blacks than either of those two combined. He makes decisions that can affect all black people by a single vote. This is too much power to give any man that suffers from the degree of self-hate that he suffers from. Doctors have to take an oath that they will do no harm, I wish Justice Thomas had taken such an oath.

Why do we appoint women and blacks to the Supreme Court? Many will argue it is because they represent the best jurisprudence irrespective of race or gender. In a perfect world this would probably be true, however as many have tried to point out we do not live in that perfect world. We live in a country that for centuries believed that women and blacks were inherently inferior. We designed laws, public and social policies to enforce those beliefs. As a nation it took us 200 years to place the first black and woman on the Supreme Court. Why do we have diversity in our criminal justice system if justice is blind? Because our history and current experience has shown us that justice is not blind, that because of our racial and gender biases justice has been meted out unfairly. How many murderers of blacks were freed by all white juries? How many murderers of women were freed by all male juries?

We have diversity in our criminal justice system to ensure that everyone gets equal treatment under the law. We believe that by having blacks and women serving as jurors, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges that we open the system up to prevent past injustices from continuing. We also believe that they will bring their unique experiences to these positions to help temper justice with mercy. The whole purpose of being judged by ones peers is to bring this understanding of being in the other person’s shoes into the system. So we now know that it is inherently unfair to have a jury of all whites, or all men, or all blacks to judge anyone. Our court system is based on the belief of fairness and impartiality. Justice Thomas should be a better student of history than he is a student of ideology maybe then he would be more sympathetic to the plight of his brothers and sisters. With a friend like him on the Court, we certainly don’t need any enemies.

There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find – Michael Friedlander