Friday, February 23, 2007

The Black KKK?

Multiple people have pointed out that this past weekend's NBA All-Star game was surrounded by a chaotic scene in Las Vegas. More and more in recent years, it has become almost as big an excuse for celebrities of all sorts to gather and party as is the Super Bowl. This year, it was noted that police simply seemed 'overwhelmed'. Bill Simmons described it as the "Hip-Hop Woodstock".

Reaction to the presence of this criminal element has brought about an interesting article by sportswriter Jason Whitlock. In a piece entitled Time to Stop Looking Past Black KKK: Denial Only Empowers Negative Forces in Community he writes the following:

We have a problem in the black community, and it didn't make its debut at All-Star Weekend Vegas. What was impossible to ignore in Vegas was on display in Houston, Atlanta and previous All-Star locations.

With the exception of Louis Farrakhan's 1995 Million Man March, it's been on display nearly every time we've gathered in large groups to socialize in the past 15 or so years.

The Black Ku Klux Klan shows up in full force and does its best to ruin our good time. Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members.

Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and '50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don't bother us.

Our fear makes them stronger. Our silence empowers them. Our lack of courage lets them define who we are. Our excuse-making for their behavior increases their influence and enables them to recruit more freely.

We sing their racist songs, gleefully call ourselves the N-word, hype their celebrity and get upset when white people whisper concerns about our sanity.

And whenever someone publicly states that the Black KKK is terrorizing black people, black neighborhoods, black social events and glorifying a negative, self-destructive lifestyle, we deny and blame the Man.

I don't want to do it anymore.

We can immediately observe that this is an article that will no doubt be controversial. In the same vein as Bill Cosby and Juan Williams, Whitlock will likely face outrage from within even his own friends.

He raises a valid question, however. What is the answer to the violence that has become ingrained within inner-city black culture?


Kristian Aloma said...

Great point. And great question.

I don't know the answer but I think what might help is focusing on the opposite. Where are the people doing great things in the black community?

There are so many people striving to make something of themselves despite all of the obstacles and challenges they face, but they are so rarely glorified. Money is king and anyone that can get it quick is considered a hero - drug dealers, thieves, gang members. Why wouldn't an impressionable child want to follow that lifestyle? If my mother is working 18 hours a day to barely make ends meet and my cousin drives around in his luxury car with cash in the trunk, who do I want to hang out with?

Now I certainly don't expect high-powered individuals to walk around recognizing the true heroes of low-income communities. Oprah held an event with a similar goal, but I don't think the small business owner down the street was invited.

But isn't it a shame that the last great black event that people readily recall was the million-man march? Honestly! Why aren't people recognizing heroes more often? If no one is recognizing them, how on earth will they become role models? Most of the great role models in our lives were great role models because they had heroic characteristics. I'm not saying they are celebrities, but they had a quiet, heroic mission worth imitating. They are there! But no one sees them!

I think it is in fact up to families, but it is also up to teachers, up to young adults to help make this happen. People don't automatically idolize the right people. We have to get the word out that it is worthwhile to recognize teachers, students excelling, individuals making an honest living and working hard at it and even young children who are trying to help in whatever way they can (like do the dishes for mom).

So, I may not have completely answered the question. I don't think I was expected to but I do challenge everyone out there to bring heroism back. It may not change anything right now, but in many years, I only hope it makes a difference.

(Was that too long? Thanks, Sarah, for pointing out Ryan's Blog!)

Westy said...

Phenomenal thoughts, Kris. (glad you found me...) Celebrating the overcomers is a profound paradigm shift.

In the interest of furthering the dialogue, I would point readers to a great response to this article penned by Henry Abbott over at True Hoop. Also, Bill Simmons followed up in regard to the continuing discussion here.

Westy said...

Another great article on the subject was written by David Aldridge.

The knockout quote:
I wish more young black men weren't so seduced by the worst of hip-hop culture: the misogyny, the glamorization of selling drugs and drinking, the indifference to formal education. I wish VH1 could find better depictions of black life than crackhead singers and illiterate sex-crazed fools. But I don't know - and neither do any of the writers and bloggers - if a group of young black man approaching in cornrows and baggy jeans are thieves or pre-med students at Penn.

To assume either possibility is to be prejudiced. Period.

Do you agree?