Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The "Either Or" Conundrum

Obama said it. Cosby yelled it. O'Reilly tried it. Romany Malco wrote an article about it. The "it" in question is Black accountability. All received both praise and criticism. I posed a question about prioritizing the fight against "systemic racism" and the "need for personal accountability". While not a large sample size, the results were interesting. Most people, regardless of race, saw accountability as a bigger priority. Those who saw racism as a priority didn't deny accountability as an issue.

Oh THAT'S Romany Malco...

Now, let's look into this a little further. Barack Obama is often criticized by the right as a "race-baiter". Which is interesting because some on the left says he doesn't speak on race enough. He's biracial so I'm sure he's used to the duality (that was a joke...his ethnicity isn't the reas...nvm). During his commencement speech at Morehouse (which was only lightly covered by the media) he called for the graduates to take responsibility for their communities and avoid the impulse to make excuses. Bill Cosby has been VERY vocal in recent years about the state of the Black community and the need to take responsibility for our condition. O'Reilly recently did the same, as did Malco. Different responses for different reasons.

This points to a mentality that I think is problematic. You're either on one side or the other of the debate (nuance is not what you get if two of your uncles find wives). Either Black people are completely blameless or completely responsible for their collective condition. Why? In most complex issues there's an intersection of responsibility. For those who say "racism was forever ago, shut up about it"...no. It's effects are long-lasting and far-reaching. Your disbelief doesn't change that. HOWEVER, pretending (at least publicly) that there aren't people who don't even attempt to do for themselves is just as ludicrous (please read "ludicrous" in Mike Tyson's voice. PLEASE). We all know someone (whether family, friend, or associate) who does nothing but complain while making no effort whatsoever to improve their situation. Please know...that's not just Black people. There are lazy people of ALL races/ethnic backgrounds. If you don't believe THAT...you might just be racist. Really. Own your shit.
It's possible for both sides to be wrong you know

We spend a LOT of time arguing about what the REAL problem is, and not enough time working on solutions. BOTH are problems. BOTH require work. For those of you who think racism is no longer an issue (or like Larry Elder says..."not the main issue") cool. Work on being individually accountable. If you get a little extra energy, perhaps you can join one of the MANY (also not often covered in the media) programs available to teach money management/parenting skills, or even those programs working to end drug dependency/violence. Those programs exist. Some are government funded. Some are privately funded. Most do good/important work. Those who think systemic racism and the laws (both formal and informal) that support it are the only problem, cool. Work on putting pressure on the lawmakers to change those laws. Work on forcing the media (by not watching and not supporting their sponsors) to provide fair coverage to positive images of all races. Work on not ATTACKING artists, but holding the labels accountable for offering more balance. Making the radio stations accountable. Teaching those in the community how the law works, and how to avoid the pitfalls of a system that appears to be slanted. We're all trying to achieve "better". Fighting people who have the same goal, but a different approach...nah. When a bully is too big, sometimes you gotta "jump" that bitch. Hit him high and low at the same time. We're letting the bully walk away while we fight each other. Let's work on that.

Full disclosure, I don't ever worry about "tone" when i read what someone says. I try to determine whether or not what they're saying is valid based on the facts. The messenger isn't important to me. I'm not suggesting you do the same. I'm telling you that's where my perspective comes from. Facts are facts and if you're not trying to make them fit your argument, they are useful to get an accurate picture. Fact, racist attitudes still exist in the world. Debating to what degree they exist is tiresome and does little to change those attitudes. Fact, there are lazy people of all races. Debating whether they are few or many does nothing to stop it. I've personally made a decision to no longer engage people who fight people trying to progress. Go stand in your holier than thou section with the rest of your "my way or the highway" homies. I'm supporting anyone attempting to move the dialogue AND the community forward. The rest of you can keep arguing over who knows best.


  1. Yes. Yes. Yes. Regarding personal accountability, every race in the USA needs to work on that one, in their own way. The Black version will not look like the White version, or the Mexican version, or the Indian version, etc. Systemic racism can only really flourish when people have little personal accountability. This gives way to entitlements, broken promises at the highest level, and usually lack of faith in the system as a whole. One does not fix one, without fixing the other. It won't be easy.

  2. thank you. i wish this was in pill form so we could crush it up and put in some folks martinis...

    1. Oh, so Koolaid ain good enough for you? ;)

  3. Excellently put. I'm going to repost this on facebook (with your permission of course).