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Thursday
Oct252007

"We're 1.5 Steps Away From Rwanda"

I have a news feed that picks up posts and articles on Dunbar Village. About two days ago, one of my feeds led me to a breathtaking discussion on a blog called Ruminations of a Racial Realist. Many of the comments were amazing articulations of many of the concerns I have about the African American community's response OR LACK OF RESPONSE to the Dunbar Village horror. If we don't speak out on this, who will be left to speak out once they come for us? I've already posted on the Eight Stages of Genocide and the Five Stages of Grief related to Dunbar Village, but when I was reading this comment I thought A) She's been reading my blog and B) this is really good! This comment is from Kadijah on the post "Why We Must Resist Assimilation" over at Ruminations of A Racial Realist ( I got permission to repost it):

the entire Black community has “foibles” [abw is being generous and polite by using this word] that need to be called out and addressed class by class.

The only difference [and it is a critical one in terms of setting priorities for the “call-out”] is that in general, the Black middle class is not running around beating, carjacking, raping, and killing people. We are also not generating the people among us that are engaged in these activities. This is why I keep bringing up underclass violent crime in these discussions. Our lives are in danger!!! And right now, it’s not the Klan that is the greatest immediate threat to your life and that of your family.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what steps I can take to increase my own and my loved ones’ safety. I hope as many of us as possible will pull the rose petals off our glasses and start taking steps to protect ourselves from some of our brethren.

Change Agent was also being generous in referring to what’s going on as “jungle culture.” It’s gone way beyond that: We are 1.5 steps away from Rwanda. It’s getting closer; I can feel it. Can you? Our lives are in grave danger.

This is what I’ve been contemplating lately: Not only has the nature of poverty changed over the years, but the nature of crime among us has also changed. We desperately need to change our priorities to meet this new threat. This means that we have to change our discourse away from our knee-jerk excuse-making if we want to save our lives. I submit to you that our focus on external circumstances will be the death of us if we don’t change course. And soon…Rwanda is right around the corner. Let me explain why I’m saying this:

Black people have always been poor, but before now we always had dignity. No matter how poor we were, we still lived our lives with self-respect.

For example my parents, etc. grew up in tenements—nobody urinated in the hallways as has become a common practice in the housing projects that were built to replace these tenements. Whenever I hear people talking about our external enemies, my mind often drifts back to the question: How does fill-in-the-blank-external issue explain people urinating on the floors of their own hallways? Something other than poverty has people pissing in their own hallways. We need to rethink our analysis of this situation.

The nature of the crimes we commit has changed also. We’ve learned how to commit crimes against humanity. Even worse, we’ve also developed a critical mass of Black people that are comfortable and accepting of these crimes [as long as they aren’t committed against them]. This is extremely dangerous. This gets back to the clients’ bragging and cell phone videos that I mentioned above. I wasn’t all that shocked at the clients; I was shocked that there’s an accepting audience of Blacks that enjoys watching this stuff.

This mindset is more common than most of us realize. And it’s not just limited to the Black underclass. The same excuse that I heard from the clients who molested their girlfriends’ daughters [”she was already having sex”] is the same justification that I’ve heard from middle-class Blacks regarding the R. Kelly child molestation case. [”You can tell from the video that this girl is experienced.” As if this makes it okay.]I’ve gotten into arguments with other middle-class Black women about this. I’ve even heard that people have set this video to music. Just imagine—there are Black people out there shaking their rumps to the backdrop of an underage Black girl being molested.

This attitude is what genocide is made of.

I’m only mentioning class here to emphasize that this depraved mindset is not limited to the underclass. The violent underclass acts this stuff out, and many of the rest of us condone it by making excuses.

[On that note, why is Dr. William H. Cosby still being received in respectable circles? Yes, I believe in the presumption of innocence etc. However, anybody with his type of scandal shouldn’t be invited to speak to anybody about anything. This is another example of moral squalor and devaluing women. As I suggested above, it would be equally appropriate to have R. Kelly talk to our young people. But, I digress from my main point…]

Brace yourself for the rest of this; it’s beyond sickening. Why do I say we’re 1.5 steps from Rwanda? One case and our lack of response to it: the Dunbar Village gang rape case. Broad outline of this incident: Dunbar Village is a housing project in West Palm Beach Florida. A few months back (I think in June), 10 Black teenage males invaded an apartment that a Haitian woman and her 12 year old son lived in. These individuals spent approximately 3 hours gang-raping the woman and beating her son. As their finale, they forced this woman at gunpoint to perform oral sex on her own son. They then poured cleaning fluids over the two and into the boy’s eyes (temporarily blinding him). Apparently, they intended to set the two on fire, but couldn’t find a lighter.

Despite screams echoing through paper-thin walls, not a single neighbor lifted a finger to dial 911 during this marathon atrocity. And, if the quotes from the local papers are accurate, the neighbors are still rather blase about all of this. The mother and son had to walk themselves to the nearest hospital after the attack.

This attitude is what genocide is made of. These are the sorts of crimes I previously only read about happening in death camps. Your life is in grave danger.

In addition, none of our national leaders or organizations have responded to this situation. Just Google this story and the blogs covering it. You’ll be amazed. I think part of our lack of response stems from the fact that this atrocity doesn’t fit into our habitual paradigm of “Let’s rally around the young Black men who are under attack from the slavemaster.”

We need to change this paradigm to accomodate taking steps to protect ourselves from some of our brethren. Another part of our lack of response stems from the fact that Black women’s lives are considered to have no value at this point. We’ve had about 25 years of hip-hop marketing the hatred & denigration of Black women. Marketing matters, and plays a part in influencing people. If it didn’t, companies wouldn’t spend huge sums of money on advertising.

When I hear Michael Eric Dyson spin his fast-talk excuses, I wonder what would happen to him if he was tossed into prison among the very people he ardently defends: he would probably be raped.SOURCE


Y'all should head over and read the entire discussion, the comments over there are really good. This is why I love blogs!

Reader Comments (9)

@Kadijah:

"On that note, why is Dr. William H. Cosby still being received in respectable circles? Yes, I believe in the presumption of innocence etc. However, anybody with his type of scandal shouldn’t be invited to speak to anybody about anything. This is another example of moral squalor and devaluing women. As I suggested above, it would be equally appropriate to have R. Kelly talk to our young people. But, I digress from my main point…"

It would have been better to stick to the main point, the comparision between Bill Cosby and "Kels" was overreaching. "I" can read past this to get to the main point, many people would not.

Better to get your message across, than to go for a quick swipe at someone like Cosby and lose some of your audience...I'm just saying.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Black Adam

@dj black adam

I think she got her message across just fine. Cosby's do as I say, but not as I do messages is problematic. You can't whine about R. Kelly being a sexual pedator when Cosby seems to be one as well.

And I guess you didn't follow Gina's advice and read the other comments over at the website. You would have read a few more articulate "swipes" at Cosby. Her comment makes a lot more sense after reading the other posts.

And quite frankly, I have enough the black male leadership, the Cosbys, Jacksons, Sharptons, Dysons, Farakhans, and Wests all need to go stand in a corner and LISTEN. They need to move over and share the spotlight. I could name tons of black women that are a lot more informed and a lot more entrenched in grassroots community work that should be leading the way.

@Gina -

that NPR podcast!!!! "Cookies to both of you are in the mail"? WTH?!!!!!

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

So, if we stop urinating in the hallways, maybe grow some Victory Gardens on the front lawn, be friendlier to cops (maybe the hour-long wait for their response to a double murder in a project court yard will be shortened to 45 min?), and go to church, then poverty, gentrification, police brutality, and a general disrespect towards people of color in this country will be kept at bay?

I guess people like Assata Shakur was in the wrong group all that time, huh?
Color them stupid.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbrotherkomrade

I agree with DJ Black Adam, I would not put R. Kelly and Dr. Bill Cosby within the same sentence. There is no comparison, unless you have credible information at which I am not privy to. LOL.

Despite the inappropriate comparison, I am still touched by the post.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAttorneymom

@Tracey:

“I think she got her message across just fine. Cosby's do as I say, but not as I do messages is problematic. You can't whine about R. Kelly being a sexual pedator when Cosby seems to be one as well.”

I really don’t see Cosby’s message as a do as I say kinda thing. I see it as a message that comes from observations, and wisdom of being the age that he is.

Kels is accused of (and guilty of in my opinion) of urinating on a child, say what you say, but I think that stuff is EXTRA.

Again, her message came off fine, but, it has been from my experience, that it’s best not to swipe at folks, when trying to make a larger point, it distracts.

BUT, that’s me…

“And I guess you didn't follow Gina's advice and read the other comments over at the website. You would have read a few more articulate "swipes" at Cosby. Her comment makes a lot more sense after reading the other posts.”

So a bunch of other folks feel they should attack Cosby, verily, I am not surprised (I have read more than enough of that). Black Folk seem to have a serious issue with ignoring a very relevant message, when they feel the “messenger” doesn’t measure up to their standards (or in Cosby’s case rebukes sharply as opposed to holding hands and singing Kumbya).

Cosby has been accused of something, that he has not as of yet been criminally indicted for, and even if he was, it wouldn’t change the relevance of what he is saying. 12 women alleging that they were sexually assaulted by Cosby, but none of the complainants have elected to proceed with criminal charges. Sounds to me that they were fishing for dollars, quite different that PEEING ON CHILDREN.

Again, her comparison was overreaching, no need to distract from your focal theme to get a swipe out…BUT, like I said, that’s me.

“And quite frankly, I have enough the black male leadership, the Cosbys, Jacksons, Sharptons, Dysons, Farakhans, and Wests all need to go stand in a corner and LISTEN. They need to move over and share the spotlight. I could name tons of black women that are a lot more informed and a lot more entrenched in grassroots community work that should be leading the way.”

I could name a gang of under 45 black males and females who have a lot more to say than the brothers you mentioned. Perhaps we shouldn’t separate on gender or when the problems affect the whole Black Community…

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Black Adam

If we are going to honestly deal with the issue then we have to deal honestly with the disconnect in our race economically. Never has it been like this before, but it is clearly like that now. Wking/Middle class blacks are balking at the apparent anger that we see and we are becoming more and more the targets of it. We used to hold out a hand to help each other out, now something has seriously changed and we need to acknowledge that.

Divide and conquer is not the way to go. Black men and women are going to have to work together to get this issue solved. The emphasis on men is that they are EXPECTED to lead, and when they are not leading us in a productive way where we can as a whole see and understand the vision and the steps to take it all sounds like ca-ca. There is not a firm understanding of what to do, and the men who are so called leading right now also seem to be a part of the problem - they are not reaching EITHER to the poor or the disenfranchised in the black community to fix or start the repair of the disconnect. Right now, in the media, they speak for us. It is time for some folks in our generation other than Mike Dyson to talk, to speak to give their take and to start saying something about what we should do, what action plan we should take. I give a damn about the gender of the person I want leadership that is doing more than talking, and right now that is all our leaders do. The grassroots are in blogs, and the grassroots is in the schools but they are not tapping in.

I agree with Kadijah, and I am gonna focus on the main part because getting off task is what we do too EASILY. At the end of the day it is what, how, when etc. we solve this serious issue in our community. How do we close this rift? Until we get back to the issue that is REALLY at hand, we will play ourselves and the "foundation" that we are standing on will crumble at our feet.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEnigma

@DJ Black Adam: I'm really feeling your post responding to Tracey, which is a little unusual because I can't say that I've felt much of what you've had to say on this blog (smile).

I didn’t realize all these women came out of nowhere accusing the Coz, but I certainly am one who believes in innocence until proven guilty (idealistic? True, but I can’t help myself) "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" John 1:46. In other words: so we are to ignore the message because of the messenger?

In all of this -- and yes, I did take the time to read all of the post and the comments @Kadijah’s -- I don't see any solutions, but just a lot of analyzing and stating the obvious (to those of us who’ve been around long enough to see how things have changed in the community). We all know that all of these issues are prevalent in our community, but WHAT do we do about the gentrification, the systemic racism, the misogyny, etc.? I think there is a malaise among black folk about life because the issues are just SO overwhelming. I get exhausted thinking about how deep some of this stuff is that we face daily, just DEEP! But aren’t you all tired of talking about it and ready to get down to changing it, even if the change will be slow? (and trust, it will be very slow!) This is hard work. Are we really ready to commit to it? Squeak, squeak, squeak…..

Last thing: I also snicker a little bit about the whole assimilation thing (@Kadijah’s) when black folk compare ourselves to others groups living in diaspora. Yes, some of these communities are a little tighter knit RIGHT NOW. Black folk have been living in diaspora much longer than say someone from Korea. I personally have a very good friend who is Korean (and no, her parents don't own a beauty supply store) and they are as Americanized as they come. If you were talking to them on the phone, you'd swear they were white folk. Somewhere in history, her folks decided that to get along, they had to GO along; to survive in the diaspora, you gotta give up something, even if that means you give up a piece (or all) of your cultural. The Mexican influx in the U.S.? Oh, I give it 2 generations and they will assimilate, too. For the love of gawd, some of the offspring of these immigrants can’t even speak the language! Their parents can, but the kids can’t.

At any rate, I have a headache now. I guess I’d better get back to reading my free copy of the Coz’s book. Well…. Maybe later.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWoman in Transition

"@DJ Black Adam: I'm really feeling your post responding to Tracey, which is a little unusual because I can't say that I've felt much of what you've had to say on this blog (smile)."

Glad to know you found something of value in my expressions.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Black Adam

You can not put Bill Cosby in the same sentence with R. Kelly, a pedophile who was caught on tape. Bill Cosby, like our so-called white savior Bill Clinton, has a problem with 'grown women'. Just like Clinton, I suspect many of these women were using Bill has a career stepping stone, since he has yet to be criminally prosecuted and many have told their story to the media and not law enforcement. In that respect, Dr. King also had a problem keeping his pants on around grown women. But like I say, when it comes down to grown men and women both are responsible for their actions.

October 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Issues

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