Saturday, May 27, 2006



Last week I mentioned in passing that the shackles on our minds have proven to be much more resilient than those that chained us to this Earth.  That comment seems to have resonated with a number of people in the community, and I’ve been urged by several of you to pursue that line of thought, so I intend to do just that.  But I want to preface my remarks by pointing out that I’ve thought long and hard over how to approach these issues, because the Black community already have too many people, both Black and White, who are much too anxious to wag their fingers and lecture, ad nauseam, both, Black people and the world at large, about the shortcomings in our community.  In fact, one “Black man”, Larry Elder, has forged a lucrative career out of dragging his own people through the mud over national radio on a daily basis (an issue I’ll be addressing in a future column), so we don’t need that. But what we do need is an honest discussion on how we can live up to the potential that we’ve already demonstrated as a people. So I’ll attempt to initiate that discussion, in a constructive, rather than self-serving way.

In that regard, it seems to me that the very first thing we must come to terms with is to realize that as a people who are the product of a racist society, we are just as racist towards other Black people as any redneck White man. Without a concerted effort, that was unavoidable, because we’ve been indoctrinated by the very same environment that indoctrinated White folks.  Of course, our first reaction is to vehemently deny that assertion, but the way in which we relate to one another says it all.

Just look around you, and yet again, I mention Larry Elder—what that “brother” is involved in day after day, week after week, and year after year can’t be described in any other way than an exercise in self-hatred.  Now, consider our reaction to it—we’ve allowed this guy to drag us through the mud with absolute impunity. He says things about the Black community that no White man would be allowed to get away with, and that’s the very key to his success.  No other group of people on the face of this Earth would allow that.  If he’d been Jewish, or Mexican, or even Aborigine, and talked about those people the way he does Black people, he wouldn’t have lasted on the air past his second commercial. Thus, the very fact that he’s allowed to prosper at our expense, speaks volumes about what we think of ourselves--and the powers that be are listening.  After all, why should they stick their necks out to fight for a people that won’t even fight for themselves?

Now let us look at the issue of drive-byes and gang related violence.  The murder rate in the city of Compton alone has reached its highest level in 10 years.  The homicide rate was reported to be up by 72 per cent last year. If that fact is not ugly enough, there’s one fact that should give us pause—out of all of the brutality committed against Black people in Los Angeles County last year, not one perpetrator was reported to have been wearing a sheet.  Again, that stat speaks volumes.

But as ugly as the facts above are, they are far from our most tenacious shackle. All of the problems sited above, and all of the problems in our community as a whole, can be traced back to one fundamental flaw-- the attitude that many of us hold towards our Black women.  
Too many of our young brothers see the need to refer to our women as “bitches” and “whoes”, as though it’s a rite of passage into manhood.  The pride that they take in being perceived as playas and pimps demonstrates without a doubt that they think being a man is about denigrating Black women.  Again, this is the root to all of the problems pointed out above, because you cannot love yourself, are have any respect for your people, until you learn to cherish the very cradle of your culture.  No wonder we can’t get the respect that we feel we deserve from the world. As long as we go around calling our women “bitches” and “whoes”, by our own definition, we’re calling ourselves “sons of bitches”—then we wonder why the world won’t take us seriously. In contrast, the White man places his woman on a pedestal, because he knows how important she is to his own self-esteem.

The way White men view their women is graphically portrayed in the movie King Kong.  When they took that White woman ashore and the natives laid eyes on her blond hair, and blue eyes, they went totally berserk—I mean, into an absolute frenzy. In spite of the fact that the island was full of Black women, the natives were convinced that nothing in this world would appease this twenty-five foot gorilla like the opportunity to lay his hands on this White woman.  And it turns out they were right, because the minute King Kong laid his hands on that White Woman he forgot about all else. Thereafter, he fought forty foot snakes, numerous dinosaurs, and finally, the United States Air Force, just for the love of this one White woman, who wasn’t even as big as his thumb.    

That is the value that the White man places in his women, and if we are ever to shed our shackles, that is the value we must place in our own.  We must learn that once our women raise us from boys to men, we must cherish, and stand by those women, and help them to raise the next generation of strong men, and loving and determined women.  So I want to challenge my young brothers.  Take a minute to call the house you were raised in, and I’m willing to bet everything I own that you’re not gonna find one “bitch” or one “whoe.” What you’re gonna find is the love and determination that dragged you into what passes for manhood--and what remains, the very key to your survival.

Eric L. Wattree, Sr.
Author of  “A Message From The Hood”
(213) 399-5171

I’d like to dedicate this article to my late wife,
Valdie Lavern Wattree
Baby, ‘Til death do us part—and beyond.

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