The following three screenshots capture a comment posted by a woman who responded to another comment from a “Mark” on Youtube. And they were both responding to a video in which Dr. Ben Carson, who is currently president Trump’s head of urban development, shares his opinion that black people are essentially solely responsible for the high rates of poverty that they (we) experience collectively in America.
I wrote a piece on this blog a while back entitled: “The Matrix” in which I basically compared the premise of that movie to the alternate reality – racially speaking – in which many white Americans currently reside. This is true not only because of the denial by many that white supremacy or privilege exists in America, but also because of what has essentially become an institutionalized culture of avoidance that has been passed down for generations. In my opinion, a significant slice of White America has no idea that they are a part of “the Matrix” (even after reading a post like the one I am writing), because like “Neo”, they have assimilated to the facade of a world that has been created for centuries to placate their guilt and fears. The result of this generational mentality – this truth-dodging if you will – is captured so succinctly and completely in the comment from this young lady in the screenshots above, that I am quite confidant I could not have written it any better myself no matter how hard I tried.
First of all, we have a woman – whom I am almost sure has never visited the neighborhoods she is speaking of – let alone actually faced the consequences of systemic racism herself – but who nonetheless has a blueprint for how black people in these areas can rise up out of poverty. Her sage advice: “Do whatever it takes to have a better life and get away from a life of crime”. “The only thing holding them back is themselves being a victim“ (make a mental note: that word “victim” is condescending). Really? That’s the only thing holding black people back?? And she knows this how, exactly? Because she is there with them in the struggle? Because she has reached out and volunteered her time in blighted neighborhoods and seen this formula in action? I highly doubt it. My guess would be that she came into possession of this “advice for black people” after hearing the various opinions of people who have been around her since birth. People who just like her: are completely separated from the reality facing communities of color across this nation.
I recently attended a City Council meeting in which citizens were allowed to address their grievances or concerns before the mayor and her colleagues that had joined the mayor on the dais. One by one I heard person after person step to the mic and recount what were essentially horror stories about what they were facing in their various communities. Homelessness – police brutality – gentrification – unjust fees – monthly rental hikes, and so on. Each and every one of these individuals were people of color. People who the system has clearly forgotten. Ostracized and without a manner of recourse at their disposal (guess they could just find a mentor according to our friend above) – these people are catching hell every single day.
And we should not forget that their children are coming home from school to those scenarios as well (or to no home in some cases). Which is the type of struggle that the lady above more than likely wouldn’t know anything about. Sure some people in those types of circumstances may be fortunate enough – are smarter than most (as is the case with her beloved Dr. Carson) and yes with hard work can supersede these types of dire circumstances. But when entire communities are ravaged by the social ills that are endured disproportionately by people who have black and brown skin – it is impossible to transcend collectively without assistance. This is ESPECIALLY true when various communities experience (and they do) the repercussions of what is to this very day systemic racism and adverse public policies that continue to apply a stranglehold on poor and working people of ALL races. Policies that to be quite frank – this woman has probably never taken the time to address in a long Youtube post like the one she offered above (wonder why…hmmm??).
I challenge people who think the way our misinformed friend apparently does to visit poor black and brown communities and hear their stories the same way I did this past Tuesday – and to do so consistently. I challenge them to try to understand a reality that is outside the fictional narrative depicted by Fox News and other outfits of that sort. Because here is the God’s honest truth: Black people and Latinos understand your perspective. We clearly understand what a woman like our friend above means when she states that personal accountability needs to be part of the equation (and despite popular opinion we agree!). But, it doesn’t end there. We have A LOT of white Americans among us who are walking around in the dark regarding racial injustices. In fact, they are so in the dark that they have no idea that they are a part of the problem. The darkness they have inhabited regarding issues of race makes them comfortable with discriminatory practices – without even knowing it in some cases. In that Matrix, America is a magical land and the greatest country on earth. And if anyone is suffering THEY must be deficient or playing the role of a “victim”.
If this scenario doesn’t change – if those who are blinded by long held biases are unwilling to open their eyes – this problem of race – of poverty – of disenfranchisement…will never change. We will continue to have young misinformed women – and old white men – and sweet old grannies – right on down the line – posting comments on Youtube when they have no idea what they are talking about. Truly believing in a self-righteous manner…mind you – that “Republicans” and the “Donald Trump’s” of the world have a monopoly on the truth & morality. Believing that as she put it: “they just want to make America great again”!
I don’t necessarily doubt this woman’s sincerity of heart. I don’t know her after all. But I know this: you can be super sincere and at the same time be super wrong. And, in this case, because America has been remiss in allowing for open dialogue in which women like her are able to be educated on perspectives of race they have never considered – she is counted among those who have been allowed to live in the Matrix for centuries by now. Hopefully someone will be able to gently pull this woman aside one day soon and she will come to see that she has been comfortably living in the dark for far too long. And then maybe – just maybe – she and others like her will finally see the light.
Oreos to go: People struggling with impoverished situations don’t disagree that having to be on welfare sucks. They disagree rather with the narrative many have construed concerning how that institution became a necessity and how we can eliminate it as a necessity.
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.