Around close quarters it’s not uncommon to hear something along the lines of, “Black people always…” or something like, “My people have gots to do better.” These sayings didn’t just pop up in the 2000’s, they’ve been around for decades. I was reading Zora Neale Hurston’s book Dust Tracks on a Road and in the book, she has a chapter titled, My People My People. In this chapter, she goes on to tell personal stories of how the Black people around her acted in different situations. She sums it all up to, My people, my people. In this chapter she mentions that some people can make an entire career out of moaning. To what do they moan? Is there no validity to their complaint?
I only pose these examples, because these comments stem from people believing that an oppressed culture is to mimic the culture of those who oppress them and this is a problem.
There’s a quote that I love by Albert Einstein.
This is the same when we look at cultures. We expect poor people, with no opportunity, who are raised in a police state (just within their community), filled with food desserts, to invest, trust authority, and make wise food choices. We are judging the fish by their ability to climb a tree. So much so that the same people being oppressed make these same statements.
Let’s see if this is more simple to understand.
We expect a poor person, who has no car, to pass by the 3 99cent burger places on the way to his 3 mile hike to the grocery store to buy week old, overpriced produce and instead make themselves a salad (wise food choice).
How about, we expect members of a community that has a 50%+ unemployment rate, to walk (or pay to take city transportation) to communities at least 20 miles away to try to apply for a job (pulling himself up by his bootstrap). That is, if they hadn’t already been stricken with a scarlet letter (felony) by the time they’ve reached adulthood.
Or, we expect communities with inadequate healthcare to grin and bear their daily pains and mental illnesses while overlooking the street drugs that are readily available on every corner (much closer then the grocery store and brought in by outside entities).
We are asking the worst of our neighborhoods to look beyond basic survival mechanisms and be more like the people who put them there? To make better food choices, invest in their community and trust their policemen and politicians. Just stop it. If you don’t understand why poor Black communities don’t trust doctors, read Medical Apartheid. If you don’t quite get the blatant disrespect for police and the justice system, read The New Jim Crow. If you think “these people” can hop up and just do better for themselves in the ghetto, read The Color of Law. No matter what your question is in regards to the conditions of poor Black people and their plight, daily struggles, etc. someone has done research on it. The reason (clearly not to be confused with an excuse) can be found.
The same people being ridiculed for simply surviving (not to be confused with living) were born, raised and have or will die behind a war zone, right in our very cities. If you can’t lift a finger to help, try at least to understand and educate yourself. Aren’t we all in this together? One Nation Under God? Act as one and help your brethren. Their reality is more than a hashtag or pity. And it’s all happening on your watch.