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Thirty years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King -- We still have a dream!

Solutions to Black Predicaments: Changing the Mindset of People in Mental Slavery!

The implications an the after-effects of slavery, did a lot of damage to both the minds and the economy of colored people even years after slavery. Racism still flourishes in society. Unfortunately, it is one of those predicaments Blacks have to face in their economic struggle. Our yelling reaction to racism has lost its fire. For many years we sang the song, did the dance, walked the march in the process of outcry about the painful effects of racism. Things have changed and times are different, but many Blacks today are suffering from the after-effects of the struggle for justice. They are mentally lost in a time warp!

There was nothing wrong with the struggle, yet it left us mentally crippled due to our behavioral choices and actions. We developed the attitude, "Whites must do something for us, or else." We decided to fold our arms, sit down, and watch: "See what the White folks are going to do now!" This behavior indirectly amounted to a surrender for some, and a life of dependency for others not withstanding the success of many hard-working Blacks. But it did not resolve the serious problems of our inability to develop and orchestrate effective strategies to solve social problems at the community levels. We became so entangled with the struggle that even when lights came back on, we were unable to see. Because we vented energy in yelling our outrage against injustice, we ran out of energy to do anything else for ourselves. We want the government to do everything for us, including coming inside our homes to raise our children and chasing the drug dealers from our communities. Yet nothing the government does ever pleases us. Please my people!!

The sight of some Blacks with poor work ethics on the job leads some employers to swear never to hire fools like that. Their color makes absolutely no difference; wrong is wrong! Some Blacks will fight on the job so loudly over trivial matters you may think they are possessed by demons. They say hypertension is killing Black people; it's probably self-imposed.

Now, our children are in trouble in the streets! We are unable to understand that kids' behavior reflects adults' behavior. We are not satisfied with our political and economic gains, and we can't seem to find ways to mobilize effective forces for corrective changes in order to rebuild the Black families and communities in the inner cities. Who do you blame? Blame the Whites folks?

Looking at our problems and what we have been doing, the solution is simple. We must change our slave mentality to one of thinking we are free and capable of doing things for ourselves, instead of carrying protest signs in front of White restaurants. Many times we sabotage our own efforts on the job due to inability to resolve our differences with other Blacks.

Protest time is over, folks! Burn those protest signs! After studying the behavior of Blacks from poorly educated to well educated, from those in abject poverty to those on top of the world; rolling in money and fame, one thing is clear; many of us still act as if we internalize inferiority. While some, although out of the ghetto, retain their ghetto mentality and sometimes bring that to work.

In business, Blacks run away from other Blacks at the drop of a hat even though we may belong to the same social or even professional organizations. We are always dying for other people's approval so badly that we refuse to embrace our own. This self-imposed inferiority complex has done more damage to our progress than any history of racism. As long as we entertain such belief, we will never find a way out of this shadow of darkness to save the Black families. The Whites ain't got nothing to do with it!

Black family in chaos

African family values have been reduced to the symbolism of dansiki and funny-looking African hats, which I wear sometimes myself, no offense. We operate differently from the African traditional values. Black men and women have been at war with each other from the time of slavery. Some say Black men are talking from their waist down, while Black women are fighting from the neck up and aggravating the heck out of the men. No wonder you can't attempt to network with some Sisters without them thinking you are interested in working under the skirt! Ironically, if you don't work under the skirt, some Black women don't even want to work or network with you. The attitude of such women is like, "If I don't get some sweetness out of this relationship, forget it, Brother!" Therefore, some Black men resort to playing tricks with the Sisters, carefully crafting a way through her heart and locking her inside for a while. Once the man gets all he wants, he feeds like a hungry wolf, finishes his business, and leaves. Then the Sister starts hollering! "You know Black men are no good!" Yah, sure! But who throws the panties at them?

We cannot afford to reduce the relationship between a Black man and a Black woman to this level. It takes a village to raise a kid only when the village is able. Presently our village is disabled and our power base fragmented. We need both the spiritual strength and the economic discipline to rebuild the Black family. In the process, we can reclaim our children and other lost souls from the crime-ridden streets.

Black organizations are fragmented and doing nothing!

Most of the time in non-Black organizations, the purpose is well defined. Members do benefit from the operation of the organizations. Financially, members derive opportunities from the association, either for professional advancement, to improve social interactions, or to form effective networking systems.

Black organizations are not only fragmented, they have been reduced to "party and dine," said Dr. Rose Mulligan, the author of Nigger, Please, in my interview with her. After paying a hefty yearly membership fee, it's party time, folks! So you see Sisters and Brothers dressing up to look good. When the music starts playing, you see our people getting down. Sisters will be shaking that behind like heaven is about to fall, and the Brothers join in like a Hurricane is about to hit the city! There is no doubt we know how to wiggle like snakes from Mama's womb because I've seen some Black kids break-dancing from birth! We are naturally talented dancers, but bad business and community organizers.

Once we switch off the music, turn on the lights, and tell our people, "Let's do some business," immediately, everybody starts hitting the door like tomorrow. A few minutes later, the room is empty. And we still think White folks are the problem!

Negotiation from strength

We must learn to build both our political and economic strength. If we learn to negotiate with society from the position of strength, we will immediately stop thinking we are being targeted for victimization. As long as we continue to deal with society from the position of weakness because of our slave mentality, we may be doomed as a race. We have put in place many miniature programs for economic progress in response to problems in the inner cities. But such efforts are so fragmented across the country, we are not effective. We have never learned to network well together without planning to rip each other off. Like the old African proverb, "If spider webs unite, they can tie a lion." Our fragmented efforts are like small spider webs, easily broken once the wind blows, not even waiting for a storm. Therefore, when we fail at the community level to implement both effective economic and social changes, we start to blame Whites, who have little to do with our failures.

Take the great success of the Million Man March of 1995 in Washington, for example. It was a very good idea and embraced by most Blacks and more Whites than was imagined. The message was for Black males to go back to the inner cities, join hands with the Sisters, and implement changes at the community level. At the implementation stage, it failed across the country because there were no effective forces in place to engineer and establish those changes. A year later, Black kids are still car-jacking and killing other Blacks in their neighborhoods. Many people have become frustrated and given up. So, the Million Man March is reduced to a historic symbol instead of a catalyst for change and horizon of hope.

Our outcry of racism has emotionally crippled us as we continue to suffer from a self-imposed inferiority complex, complacency, and impotence of action. Everybody knows we must develop a strong economic base through networking and being dedicated to successful strategies in business. We must get rid of this slave mentality to free our minds from cognitive blindness, and mental paralysis. These are serious diseases causing lack of progress for Black people.

Dr. Rosie Milligan is the author of Nigger, Please (published by Professional Business Consultant, Los Angeles, 208 pages, $14.95) and has written many books about the Back race. In my interview with her, I was impressed with her, although not with the title of her book. She told me that we need to teach African Americans how to empower themselves economically. She believes the Contract with America (which I call, Contract on Americans) is a blessing for Blacks. I argue with that one. She explained that, Affirmative Action Programs, lure Blacks into the false security of a "Share Croppers' Mindset." She indicated that people benefited from our slave labor, yet we are happy and settled just to have a place to sit next to Whites. Then we close down the stores and send our children to White schools. When we send our educated children to corporate America and they are not taken care of, we get angry. We need to take care of our own, she emphasized.

Thirty years ago, Blacks were the only minority. Today there are more minorities around. "We're our own worst enemy," said Dr. Milligan very strongly. She said we talk about the White people as the blue-eyed devils and evils, yet we enroll Black children in White schools to be educated by those blue-eyed devils! "We need to stop saying White folks got their feet on our necks," she stressed. Dr. Milligan also explained how we need to generate economic empowerment, an idea which she learned from her father, a farmer who owned his land. "He who has his own and controls his own destiny lays out a path for him to control his own destiny," she said.

During the interview, she said something I had never heard from any Black person before. She told me that Black churches are part of the major problems for Black people today. "Black churches never create jobs or do anything for Blacks' economic progress. They brainwash people that God will take care of them. And after all the yelling and jumping up and down, we still go home to nothing," she told me. At this point, I asked her whether she is against religion. She said she is against religion but not against spirituality. You'd better believe, that one was heavy for me!

"Before, we used to sing ourselves to freedom; today we're singing ourselves to slavery and still singing in bondage," said Dr. Milligan, making me laugh a little. She said most of the Black organizations, instead of developing economic empowerment, they are doing meetings, eating, giving awards a practice which she referred to as, "Party and dine." (Dr. Rosie Miligan, 213-750-3592)

When I interviewed Don Spears of New Orleans, the author of In Search of Goodpussy, (published by Don Spears Enterprises, 271 pages, $13.95) he shed some light on the subject matter from another perspective. Spears believes that most of what happened to Blacks didn't happen by accident. He quoted Thomas Jefferson: "Nothing in power happens by accident."

He was referring to the Black predicament being part of the agenda of the system to maintain the present conditions of hopelessness and lack of economic progress. Spears maintains that other reasons for Blacks' predicaments have to do with lack of an agenda for economic progress and lack of effective national leadership. According to Spears, other people with well organized agendas have better economic and political success. He believes Blacks are not homogeneous and that differences tend to alienate us from each other. "We don't have a plan and we don't know where we're going," he said. Spears went further to explain that we Blacks don't have any idea about the opportunities out there because we are satisfied being validated physically and sexually instead of through our knowledge. He said we are our own worst enemy since we are not able to break from our predicaments. In addition, he explained that we seem not to matter to society, looking at the ways we have been treated.

"Three strikes, you're out," he complained, has done more damage to Blacks and the family because society is trying to solve a very complex problem by the simple way of incarceration. This reminds me of what a Black woman told me while we were discussing crime, punishment, and fairness of sentencing. She said, "We Blacks don't get fairness when we do the right thing. How in the world do we want justice, by getting off through technicality, or justice when we do wrong?"

In our long telephone interview, Spears suggested solutions and made me understand that the political system designed Black brainwashing and mindset as a form of control. He stressed that a lot of mind control lead Blacks to failure and hopelessness. In discussing solutions, he emphasized that Blacks must know who they are and where they are going and develop a sense of common purpose and direction. This led us to his book, In Search of Goodpussy, which I initially thought was about looking for good sex. He used the name as a generic term for anytime people are looking for something that makes them feel good, be it man or woman. Blacks must know their history and know where they come from. We must repair the relationship damage between the Black man and the Black woman; otherwise, nothing will work. Rebuilding the Black family is very important for our survival as a race, he stressed.(Don Spears, 800-880-2299, 504-944-1380)

If we Blacks stop being ashamed of the way we look and get over the history of inferiority imposed on us, we will be able to stop self hatred. Like other groups who were subjected to history of persecutions and oppression, we can learn to love ourselves again. If we stop running away from each other, we can learn to work and solve problems together. Surely, we can learn to build a community together, at that time, we have created a village.

by 'Yinka Vidal

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