Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black America: The Final Destination

Black America: The Final Destination

Paul Scott

"Sometimes, I think it's just genocide. Watching all of your people die."

"Closed Eyes"- Marcus Cox, NC artist

I just peeped the new movie called "The Final Destination" about this woe- is -me type dude warning his homies about their impending demises and their frantic attempts to beat the grim reaper. I'm not sure why I spent $6.25 to see the flick when, as a black man, I get that every night on the evening news for free...

The gloom and doom forecast for black life started out in the 16th century with the misinterpretation of scripture that condemned people of African descent to the curse of being "hewers of wood and drawers of water." It's been pretty much downhill every since.

It seems that any news dealing with black folks is, overwhelmingly, negative except for the occasional story of some lucky kid who "made it out the ghetto despite the million- to- one odds."

Whether it's stories about unemployment or high drop out rates, black on black violence or some new disease that for some strange reason only attacks black folks, news from the 'hood is, definitely, not all good.

The sad thing about it is that most of us have become so accustomed to our pitiful prognosis that we have accepted the revelations, whole heartedly, without even asking why.

And those of us who do try to challenge the statistics are faced with the unenviable task of constantly trying to decipher fact from fiction.

Is the black community, inherently, doomed to the pathologies that plague us or do our own actions determine our fate? Do we have the ability to develop strategies to relieve our burdens or will even our best made plans be sabotaged by those who have a vested interest in "keepin' the black man down?"

People like Bill Cosby have argued that if only black boys would pull up their pants and stop listening to gangsta rap then all would be right with the world. This is not much different than WEB Du Bois' argument in his 1897 essay, "The Conversation of Races" that the greatest step to solving the "Negro problem lies in the correction of the immortality, crime and laziness of the Negroes themselves, which still remains an argument since slavery."

Others have argued, quite convincingly, that the condition of African Americans is not the result of Divine Providence nor an accidental universal catastrophe but is a well designed attempt to remove people with high levels of melanin from the face of the planet.

While this may be dismissed by some as paranoia, as the character from the 80's sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati, Dr. Johnny Fever, once said, "when everyone's out to get you, being paranoid is just a smart way of thinking."

After all the evidence is there.

As Malcolm X said at a Harlem rally in 1964, known as his 'By Any Means Necessary Speech," When you let the black man in America know where he once was and what he once had, why, he only needs to look at himself now to realize something criminal was done to him to bring him down to the low condition that he's in today."

It is foolish to deny the fact that segments in this country have offered ways to get rid of black undesirables over the years; whether it be lynchings, burnings, the Tuskegee Experiment, COINTELPRO, crack and guns in the hood or the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, the list goes on.

While many of these incidents may be chalked up to urban legends, the affect of rumors was taken very seriously by the government. In her book, "Heard it Through the Grapevine," Professor Patricia Turner writes that the Feds set up "rumor clinics" during WWII to "prevent potentially adverse hearsay of all sorts from gaining credibility." Also, in 1968, the Kerner Report recorded the operation of "Rumor Central " operations to combat urban racial disorders.

What is most troubling is that many young African Americans have embraced their fate and adopted the old Star Trek Borg mantra that "resistance is futile."

This is especially evident in Hip Hop as rappers have developed a bizarre type of necrophilia. There are hundreds of songs with the common theme of "just kill me, already, and get it over with."

The posthumous success of rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG, both of whom seemed to predict their deaths in their lyrics, are perhaps the best examples.

This is not to suggest that the entertainment industry's exploitation of black agony started with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5's, "The Message." From the blues to the the situation comedy /tragedies of 70's shows such as Good Times, the industry has painted a less than rosy picture of black life. However, with changing technological advances, Hip Hop allowed black suffering to be embraced, globally.

Regardless, of the cause of our dilemma, our challenge is to find ways to restore the confidence of this young generation that they do not have to accept their prewritten obituaries but they posses the innate ability to change their environment.

Maybe, we will find out that Earth, Wind and Fire were right when they sang, "in our hearts lie all the answers to the truth you can't run from."

Until then, just like in the movie, being black in America is a constant, everyday struggle to cheat death.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283or