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Responding to hlewissmith's Missive on "Black Consciousness"

On the front page of LJ I saw the sponsored link to hlewissmith's entry about "Black Consciousness", which I guess is doubling as a place for him to plug a couple of books he has written on similar topics. I was going to just post a comment to him there, but I wanted to turn this into a thinkpost and open it up here because I had a little bit too much to say about it for it to just be an LJ comment.

To briefly sum up his statements, if you don't want to read through the piece, he is asking why there is no similar outcry from the black community when a black person kills/robs/brutalizes a fellow black person as there is when a white person has done so against a black person. He goes on to criticize gangsta rap and fashion, and state that these are the elements that are diminishing the community.

So, after reading through it, I wanted to respond.


And here's my response.

Hi there H. Lewis Smith.

I have some thoughts about your comments here and I want to say this is not intended as criticism of you or what you have said, but is, what I believe, is a more accurate view of the same material.

Let's start with this.

If I told you that somewhere within the borders of the United States, every day, at least one American citizen called President Barack Obama the "N" word, would you believe it? Would you be surprised by that? Or, would you even doubt it and instead, accept it as fact? Would you believe that that number was ten? How about a hundred? Maybe a thousand?

Keep in mind, this man is a Columbia University Graduate. He was the Editor of the Harvard Law Review. A Constitutional Scholar. A Nobel Laureate. This is no hardcore rapper. It's the President of the United States. It doesn't get any bigger or more important than that. It doesn't get any more astute and more cultured than that. It doesn't get any more stylish and tailored than that.

If it really were about how you talk, how you dress, how you conduct yourself in public, how is it The President is still being called the "N" word? The answer, simply, is that it's not about any of that. It's about the one thing that he cannot change. It's about fact that he's black.

While you are stating that blacks need to change what they are doing, I'm stating that racism is the overarching reason that isn't happening. It also explains the black on black crime that is going on.

Really, what is black on black crime about? It's the pain of not being able to escape poverty. It's trying to take advantage of people who are close by. It's the anger and the frustration of not being treated like a human being. And it's the people who run guns into those neighborhoods, turning the streets into some kind of X Box first person shooter game.

In the ghetto, you aren't going to get as good an education as you would in a private school or even a public school in a more affluent neighborhood. In fact, you probably wouldn't want to attend some of these ghetto schools because they're more like prisons, with bars on the windows, poorly lit rooms with few, if any school supplies, and teachers who didn't qualify to teach anywhere else and are just scraping by until they can escape to the job they really want.

That leads the potential students developing a hatred of scholastic work, bad grades, flunking out and very few options for success. So many employers wouldn't even consider them for an interview, let alone a job. And without work, there's no money.

Also, the style choices, the creative flow and the art that has come from things like hip-hop and rap you're deriding is a direct expression of the circumstances that young blacks are experiencing and expressing. Now, you want to take even that away from them? When Miley Cyrus twerks, she somehow is able to do it without degrading herself. When Eminem or Macklemore rap, it's all cool. No one is saying how the white culture is going down the drain while that is happening.

Just as Jazz was born from the oppressive circumstances blacks were experiencing in the late 1800s well into the 1930s and 40s, this more recent form of musical self-expression is a reflection of the time and the place in which it is happening. It's helpful to remember that many folks were saying how wrong, even sinful Jazz was at the time. Would you have stated that people like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway, or Ella Fitzgerald should have "stop degrading their own race" and given up their musical form? Where would the world be, today?

I do see your points, so don't feel I'm just tearing down everything you're stating. But the real issue is that the problems you are examining here are all just more of the strange fruits of the racism tree. Take away racism. Allow everyone the same chances to learn. Don't stifle creativity and freedom of choice.

And this is where we begin.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
timetotriangle
Sep. 16th, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
Wonderful think-out post. I felt the same way when I read H. Lewis Smiths post.
hlewissmith
Sep. 16th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
Black Consciousness in 21st Century America
Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts deeply appreciated. However, I am somewhat puzzled as to what it was about the article that made you feel the need to offer an analogy about President Obama and use of the n-word? You seem to make certain assumptions which has nothing to do with my article. It goes without saying that many people hurls the epithet N-word at the president and because of the very reason that he is black; it comes as no surprise that this happens, but yet you make it seem as if people aren't aware this is going on.

You then go on to make the following comment: If it really were about how you talk, how you dress, how you conduct yourself in public, how is it The President is still being called the "N" word? The answer, simply, is that it's not about any of that. It's about the one thing that he cannot change. It's about fact that he's black.

Once again you are basing your comments on assumptions. Where in my article do I allude to WHY people are called the n-word? I'm at a lost as to what your comments here have to do with my commentary?

Insofar, as the rest of your comments are concern I can respect all that you've had to say. Your comments are understandable and validates why "Undressing the N-word" had to be written. The issues that you've outlined in your response pertaining to racism, use of the n-word, social pathologies are addressed in a comprehensive manner. The book is a hard hitting indictment of the truth, and any critique of it is welcomed: http://www.amazon.com/Undressing-N-word-Revealing-Naked-Deceit/dp/0615962424/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392176564&sr=1-1&keywords=undressing+the+n+word

You end your response with:

And this is where we begin.

If you really want to know where we begin I highly recommend your reading "Undressing the N-word." And feel free to write your own review on it.
penpusher
Sep. 18th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Black Consciousness in 21st Century America
Sorry, I didn't see your comment here - it appeared screened as suspicious, likely because you attached a link to your book via Amazon, so I didn't even know you responded until today.

The reason I offered the President Obama analogy was that you seemed to suggest in the Black Consciousness piece, that it's about how people dress, act, and carry themselves that is a determining factor in how they are treated and why they are demeaned. But that isn't the factor that matters to people who are racist. And I think that's the game people who are trying to resolve the racism issue start playing when they are looking for answers.

If only we would just "clean up our act," everything would be better. It's a lot more simple and a lot more complex than you're making it out to be, and, based on what I read, I responded to the elements that I felt needed a response.

If you would like me to write a review of your book, feel free to send me a copy. I'll provide a mailing address if you would like.
hlewissmith
Sep. 20th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
Re: Black Consciousness in 21st Century America
With all due respect I'm going to suggest that you re-read the article because no where in it do I allude to anything relative to your following statement: The reason I offered the President Obama analogy was that you seemed to suggest in the Black Consciousness piece, that it's about how people dress, act, and carry themselves that is a determining factor in how they are treated and why they are demeaned.

You imply that I SEEM TO SUGGEST such and such, which is not the case at all. It seems as though you are trying to read something into all of this that isn't there. My concerns are not with how others see or view blacks, but indeed how blacks SEE themselves, which is the sum essence of the article.
(Deleted comment)
i_17bingo
Sep. 18th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)
The only time white people ever give a shit about black-on-black violence is when they want to deflect attention from something like, say, a cop or a vigilante who is so scared of someone he deems a "thug" that he shoots an unarmed teenager without legal consequences (also, he gets to keep his gun). And there is never any attempt or even ideas about how to sort out the black-on-black violence they're suddenly very concerned with. All that term is is the rhetorical version of "I know you are but what am I."

I would not have treated Mr. Smith with the same amount of respect you did.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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