Guest Author - Lorraine E. Chavis
So black Americans have gained US civil rights after a long hard arduous struggle with their country, fellow citizens both black US citizens and white US citizens unlike, as well as certain forms of media that perpetuated the Jim Crow stereotype. Now, the question begs to be asked, what next? How should they act now? For so long they have been told how to tap. They have been told what to do, how to dress, how to speak, how to act towards one another and all a matter of things that make them appear “well-behaved”.
US black Americans have undergone a type of reconditioning. This reconditioning has taken generations to really been seen and understood. But, even though it is being seen it is not being dealt with. If the philosophy of the day is you teach others how to treat you, by how you allow yourself to be treated. Then black Americans are allowing themselves to be treated poorly. This poor treatment is not necessarily by the non-black Americans but by black Americans.
We see this behavior being implemented in rap lyrics. The artists commonly refer to women as female dogs and garden tools, and more common colloquialisms. They depict the women in stereo typical hyper sexed roles. Some may say it shouldn’t matter how to rap artists depict these women because it’s just a song, a lyric and they’re not talking about all women just some. The problem there is when you take a medium and you use it to show at gender and a bad light and there is no way to balance that image. it does matter. Hip-hop has a huge platform, it’s largely male and there is not a balance in their depictions of women. Also, historically the stereotype has been that black women and black men were hyper sexed. It is sad to see the struggle of this community be turned into a stereotype all over again.
We see this behavior when US black celebrities decide to veer off the typical path of black celebrities. One that comes to mind is Oprah. She recently had her last episode and is now venturing into a network of her own the Oprah Winfrey network, OWN. Now Oprah has done a lot for the community overall not just black Americans, not just white Americans, not just Americans, but worldwide. One of her accomplishments was a school in Africa. Oprah received a lot of flack from many in the black community for saying that she thought Africa should have a girls’ school for leadership. They felt she should have started a school in America. Some black Americans have said they don’t watch her show and they won’t watch her network. It costs a lot to be a cross over celebrity for black Americans. They risk alienation from a community. They have to balance the desire for more in their careers and the ability to still belong to “the community” in a colloquial fashion.
We see this behavior in the treatment of Bill Cosby. He made a statement at an NAACP gathering, a statement that was fair, a statement that many felt was true and for that statement he was attacked. Many know Cosby as a comedian, the producer of the Cosby show and a black American celebrity. But, many both black and white know that Bill Cosby was a former Harlem globetrotter and a staunch black activists in his younger years. The sad thing is many people at the NAACP gathering knew this, but they let their shame and their “spirit of offense” get the better of them. In lieu of taking Cosby’s comments and doing something positive they attacked him as a person. The community still struggles because no one speaks up, things are swept under the carpet and those elders that have the courage to say something are beaten back.
So here we have just a few snapshots of the inner struggles that continue to go on. The problem is some Black Americans have yet to understand they don’t need anyone’s approval or affirmation anymore. This is not a negative comment. This is not a declaration of war. This is just truth. People respect people who stand up and take responsibility for their actions. There seems to be a disconnect in the community that unfortunately some are all too willing to capitalize on, but to change.