Conclusion of a series
“But no slave should die a natural death. There is a point where caution ends and cowardice begins. Give me a bullet through the brain from the gun of the beleaguered oppressor on the night of siege. Why is there dancing and singing in the slave quarters?”
— Eldridge Cleaver
“We’ve been dancing too long.”
— James Baldwin
In this series, we reviewed pertinent books from a wealth of Black literature (installments two and three) and concluded that our ancestors believed that, to heal, Black men must not only become more self-sufficient in terms of securing living-wage jobs, but must also confront oppressive institutions that deny them opportunities and their dignity as well.
We defined the basic framework for a program that would assist Black men — an employment and leadership training program (installment four). We offered a three-part analysis of poverty, looking at the two types of poverty (poverty of income and poverty of spirit), and argued that White institutions utilize both to generate Black-on-Black violence (installments four, five and six).
But not everything is negative.
In installment seven, we said that for Black men to heal, we need to stop lamenting the Black men who have, in one way or another, left the Black community. Instead, we need to better appreciate those who are still there — men who work long and hard to improve the lives of individuals and families in our communities with little acknowledgement from the White mainstream media or sufficient funding from public or private sources.
Despite their efforts, we said this was not enough.
To heal, we need a new national, independent political organization, not only to identify, clarify and prioritize issues, but to fight for better services; to form more powerful alliances with other progressive groups; and to loosen the stranglehold that the Democratic Party has on loyal Black voters.
Long-term, we need this independent political organization to transform us from mere beggars at the door, a dependant people scrambling for social service crumbs from our enemies, into nation-builders, a self-determining, community-sustaining people — a people with its own corporations, schools, banks, food cooperatives and organic farms.
This may be the last installment in the series, but it’s not the last word on what Black men need to do heal. First, the Spokesman-Recorder will continue the discussion at its Sister Spokesman and Brother Spokesman monthly meetings, where everyone is welcomed (the first Brother Spokesman meeting is October 13, 2007).
Second, the Spokesman is developing a 2008 calendar around Black men healing. Of course, the calendars will be available at meetings and at the Spokesman office. So the follow-up is there; we just need you to join us and be a part of it.
What it is
To heal, Black men must be self-actualized go-getters and self-sustaining don’t-quitters. In other words, others can support us, but we must do the deeper work, the heart-rending soul searching, ourselves. So, from job training to violence prevention to political independence, we need to stop frontin’, show up, and get the job done.
Come on, brothers, many of the sisters are already there and waiting on us. Why is there dancing in the slave quarters? We’ve been dancing (and balling) too long…
We can do this. What do we have to lose? Only our souls as men and our very existence as a people.
Mac Walton welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.