Enemy Within?

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  • You know, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to sometimes asking the question, “Are we our own worst enemy?”
         
    I’ve recently seen a number of headlines that have had me wondering, again, “Are we, black people, our own worst enemy?”
         
    Cases in point: First, there was this nonsense with that New York bar brawl between the entourages of Chris Brown and Drake where eight people were injured, including Brown himself as well as basketball star, Tony Parker.
         
    How many times are we going to replay this tired scenario where two artists and their camps start beefin’ with one another, and then someone gets badly hurt or killed?
         
    To make matters worse, as most of you likely know, the brawl took place just days from what would have been the 41st birthday of Tupac Shakur, the late artist who was no stranger to violence.
         
    Then, there’s this controversy over Adidas’ now cancelled sneakers, the JS Roundhouse Mids, which have orange cuffs with chains attached to the ankles that many have likened to "slave shackles."
         
    Yes, I’ve seen the shoe and I seriously question, in this day and age, why any company, especially one with a large consumer base in the African-American community, would not be aware enough of America’s racial history to avoid such insensitivity.
         
    That said, what’s even more remarkable is that Adidas felt comfortable developing a product like this in the first place. Regardless of intent, it’s like these companies believe they can throw anything at our community and we’ll buy no matter how offensive.

    And why wouldn’t they feel this way? Given the popular practice of sagging pants, inspired by a beltless prison culture where folks wear their pants low to intentionally show off their underwear, why would a company not think black youth would run about in shackles?

    What’s next? Are we going to celebrate lynching culture by getting young black men to overstarch their ties so they no longer hang downward but stick straight up in the air and form the shape of a noose?
         
    And I’m scared I just said that, not because of any controversy that may result from it, but because I think somebody might actually take the idea and run with it.
         
    Finally, there’s the recent controversy involving Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay-Z and Kanye West over use of the N-word. I’m not about to rehash the argument over “who can or can’t use the N-word.”
         
    My point is: if we as African-Americans publicly and willingly go around calling each other N-words and B-words, then we should expect such controversies.
         
    Look, folks, it boils down to this: yes, we have a ton of forces aligned against us. We always have. But more importantly, we, as a community, have the power to set the tone of how we are treated and respected, or how we are mis-treated or disrespected.
         
    We can choose to participate in our own degradation or our own advancement.
         
    Let’s hear from you.Text us here at 64-64-64 to let us know whether you feel that we, black folks, are our own worst enemy.

    I’ll close with this great African proverb: “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

    Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.
     

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    6 thoughts on “Enemy Within?

    1. Worse enemy..well, maybe..considering that a reported 95% of Blacks voted for Obama. …believing in Hopey and Changey..instead we got 30,000 Black Libyans dead…thousands of women and children civilians incinerated by US predatory drones, highest Black unemployment since the depression, record foreclosures, same -sex marriage, Gay Pride Month at the Pentagon…and on and on and on…

    2. We’re the only ethnic group that PROUDLY refer to ourselves in negative terms. I find this to be very embarrassing!

    3. Djenaba247, I’m an educator also, & I don’t allow my students to ever use either the N word or the B word. There are just way too many negative connotations surrounding them. I also don’t allow my 7th graders to say negative things about each others parents. We as a race of people have to deal with way too many negative portrayals of us on a daily basis as it is. Stephanie is absolutely right.

    4. That is a a very profound analysis. These words definitely do not allow us to move forward and establish a new identity!

    5. A beautiful article. As a parent and teacher, I taught my children and students the historical meanings and use of both ( N and B-words) as well as definition. These words were not allowed airing in my home nor in my school/daycare.
      I felt and still feel that to use these words on each other is an act of “living down to” the denotation and connotation of those words. To continue to use them is as you say, “the enemy within”.

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