Complacency is killing us. And together with its counterpart, silence, is a huge barrier to Black social, political and economic justice. Sadly, Black people, generally, and Black leadership, in particular, tend to perpetuate a status quo that is inimical to their own best interests. Yes, we are perhaps the most resilient people on the planet. But there is a disturbing parallel between our collective silence on crucial issues like failing to consistently denounce injustice and the “silence of the lambs” syndrome among Jews in Nazi Germany.
The damaging implications of Blacks’ pervasive complacency are not always evident. For instance, failure to vigorously protest police brutality reinforces its recurrence. (BLM’s efforts certainly help but are hardly sufficient. Police statistics aside, crime in Los Angeles has decreased in many areas, but continues unabated in pockets, especially in South Central Los Angeles. Neighborhoods most affected by excessive violence are often the poorest and have the least political clout. Inner city violence also reflects class issues like the growing chasm between middle-class and poorer Blacks. Many of the former no longer think of themselves as victims of institutional racism and seem less concerned about challenging the status quo by participating in the continuing struggle for full freedom and justice.
There are many other examples of the harmful effects of Blacks’ collective complacency. In Los Angeles, far too many Black parents, educators and traditional leaders fail to denounce the inferior education Black children receive in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). A couple of examples: Historically, programs focusing on Black students have never been sustained by LAUSD and the first phase of the Public School Choice Initiative virtually overlooked Black parents. Such negligence is only a part, albeit a major part, of the problem; Black parents-and concerned others’- silence continues to be problematic. (The initial phase of the Public School Choice process was characterized by misinformation, heavy district and union politics and some outright fraud. Yet, there was no sustained outrage or pushback by Black parents or the broader Black community. Their collective failure to routinely protest such inequities allows LAUSD to skirt accountability, with impunity.
Violence among Blacks, poor education, police abuse, etc., are widespread community problems, but no faction is meeting its responsibility sufficiently. Clearly, racism and continuing race-based discrimination are causal factors. However, many Blacks, having internalized America’s individualistic and materialistic values without comparable access to its benefits, also contribute to the problem. Therefore, without defining our own alternatives, challenging the system is tantamount to challenging ourselves. Further, many middle-class Blacks, fearing the loss of personal gains and -non-sustainable political and economic success- do not take the risks necessary for actual change and, therefore, tend to perpetuate a status quo that is not even in their own best interests.
Black youth’s (inner-city males, especially) widespread low self-esteem is a tragic hallmark of the race-based conundrum. Everyone knows that disproportionately, poor Black children are inordinately victims of physical and psychological abuse and neglect, and that violence often starts in the home and is reinforced in their immediate environment, including the schools. Is it any wonder that large numbers of these children find themselves in the horrific cycle of rejection, hopelessness and failure that culminates in imprisonment or death? The most rebellious and “insufferable’ of these youth are often the least secure and most severely victimized by their negative self-affirming life experiences.
However, this admittedly bleak scenario should be cause for challenge, not despair. But here’s the rub. Many Blacks are armchair experts in pontificating and analyzing social justice problems, but, typically, don’t actually work on solutions to those problems. And, as mentioned earlier, classism has become a major issue and most of the Black middle-class is no longer involved in the struggle for civil rights and social justice, further exacerbating things.
Complacency and silence make achieving group unity immeasurably more difficult. In the 1960s and prior, Blacks not only knew they were in the same boat, but more importantly, acted like it. Today, affecting change is a more complex and daunting task because so many Blacks have been brainwashed into thinking change is either unnecessary or not possible. And our dwindling numbers in many urban areas makes it even harder to in marshal the necessary moral and political clout to protect our own interests. Now, with a Trump- prone Americana, the Alt Right and other white gangs have come out of the closet and every step toward progressive, positive change triggers heavy conservative pushback.
(And yes, race was a factor in the unprecedented vicious attacks on President Barack Obama. But most Blacks remained silent about his failure to address their specific concerns and his propensity for over-accommodation on issues that negatively affected them. Many, if not most Blacks were not only reluctant to criticize Obama, but not wanting to align themselves with the conservative chorus that condemned him, gave him a free hand in making critical decisions which didn’t favor them. In other words, Blacks tended to support, and protect, Obama even when it was not in their best interest. However, such blanket support waned.)
The complacency of the Black community and its leadership is largely based on conditioned self-effacing mindsets and behavior which will only be offset by Black leadership, especially, establishing common ground based on moral and ethical values and a broad awakening from complacency by the Black community itself. email@example.com