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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