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Being a Black male I know that being Black can mean different things to different black males at the same time. Stemming from the "Who am I" effect three definitions are created. Deceived and oppressed by the dominant culture (whites) these definitions are in relationship to how the black male views himself versus the dominant culture. First there are those that feel they are equal to or maybe greater than whites. This first group often goes through life in constant battle and struggle because they know that they have to work twice as hard to get the same results and treatment as whites. This group is aware that Blacks are not given fair chances at having what whites have. Often members of this group will adhere to lesser roles in society and not complain much about the unjust treatment but will be aware of it. There are others within this group that do complain about the unfair treatment and voice their feelings of it.
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"The Black Unconsciousness." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2019
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The second group feels that they are not equal to or greater than whites. This group has internalized the oppression and believes the stereotypes about Blacks. This group is unaware of their feeling of inferiority on the conscious level and probably will never admit they actually feel like a lesser man than whites. When members of this group are successful they feel as if "they got one over" on the white man. Like the first group this group is aware that Blacks are not given fair chances at having what whites have.
The third group is the group that goes through life with the least amount of problems. This group feels that everything is the same for everyone. This group believes that they are presented with the same opportunities as whites and that their downfalls are their faults and not because they are Black. They feel their success is from working hard. Unlike the first two groups; this group is not aware that Blacks are not given fair chances at having what whites have. This group makes up a very small population of Blacks. These three different views of "self" come from nature versus nurture makeup within their lives. Many young Black males are told that they can be whatever it is that they want to be in life, including myself. From elementary school till junior high I would hear teachers, principals, and career day speakers speak of being a doctor, lawyer or even the first Black president of the United States to me and my fellow classmates. Mack Jones says "..growing number of black persons who are uneducated, unskilled, unemployed and often unemployable, or employed in low paying jobs, living in unrelieved poverty and immersed in a culture conditioned by such abject circumstances with only a limited chance or hope for upward mobility ( Jones, 1)". This "the world is yours" rhetoric sugarcoats the harsh reality of the world to many Blacks, but for what reasons? Deception is not a new thing to Blacks in this country nor has it resurfaced. It has been constant throughout the history of America. Young Blacks are never told of the opposition that can and will be faced. Forced to find out on our own many of us are left feeling that the world is not really ours. The Black male doesn't view the world as open space that he can explore but views it rather as limited space that he must be careful while walking on. Throughout most of my upbringing my space was very limited. I would see commercials on television with celebrities endorsing Library Cards and reading. I would see children walking into the library and signing up for cards and taking home books. I felt alienated not because the commercial consisted of white kids. There were different races and genders. Not because reading wasn't interesting to me. I loved reading and writing. I felt alienated because walking to the library which was 4 blocks away would endanger my safety. That commercial showing friends' walking to the library was not meant for me or my friends because of gang activity.
From early ages Black inner city males must learn that simply because of where they live they can't go to other places. This is something that can be changed. This is something that is not permanent. Yet they must learn early on what boundaries they can and can not explore or face severe consequences. Something that can not be changed is them being Black. Sadly, similar to the way I had to learn of where I could and couldn't go because of where I lived, I had to learn of what I could and couldn't do because of my race. Oppression is a constant burden in the life of a black man. First deceived into believing that I can do anything and then oppressed when I try and worst alienated when I try to complain. Many other races that roll with the "The world is yours" mind frame can find great success in this country. For example one can buy products at wholesale prices and then sell them to customers at resale prices and turn a profit. It sounds simple enough, which it is. Throw a Black male into the equation and the outcome is very different. What happens is what I like to call the Bruce Lee Theory. In the movie Enter the Dragon Bruce Lee is teaching a student martial arts. The boy is having trouble mimicking Bruce's movements. Bruce then speaks to the boy while pointing to the sky. "It is like a finger pointing to the moon. (The boy is staring open-mouthed at Bruce's finger. Bruce then smacks the boy across the head.) Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory." What Bruce was trying to get across to the boy was that he was concentrating too much on him (Bruce) and not at what he was showing him. If a Black man is selling a product at a great price it wouldn't matter too much because the customer would be too focused on him being Black to notice it. The customer would actually be saying "no" to the Black man and not the product on the sub-conscious level.
The truest form of alienation becomes apparent when all efforts fail. As a youth I was always told to be on my best behavior. This was not something that was only told to me by my mother, but by most of the black adults that I came across. This was told to me when we were in the presence of white people. While we were around other Black, Hispanic, Asian or other group of people I wasn't constantly reminded to do or not do something. While playing basketball as a youth I remember my basketball coaches constantly telling me and the other players to not talk loud, tuck in our jerseys and make sure our hair was cut every time we were to play in the presence of white people. We had to walk into the gym silently and wait patiently to play. After the game we were not to celebrate at all. This taught me and other young black men that there was something that was not acceptable about the way that we were. We did everything that our coaches asked us to do but still came across racial fueled mistreatments. We were stared at by other teams and often warned not to curse or let our pants sag. The opposing teams were never warned the way we were. No matter what we did to let everyone know that we were just there to play basketball it didn't work. We were still young black males and there was nothing we could do to change it. Our coaches further perpetuated the idea of self-hate within us by constantly telling us not to miss-behave; when we never did.
While playing for Palmdale High School which had many white players on the team and a white coach I was never warned to behave. The team that I played with consisted of loud rude and obnoxious kids. We vandalized restaurants by making messes in the restrooms and tables. We were loud in the hotels we stayed at when we traveled out of town. We could do all of these things easily for one because people didn't constantly watch over us. Secondly because we were comfortable being ourselves: young hormone driven teenagers. Sub-consciously my Palmdale team believed that what we were doing was okay. It was the normal thing to do for a high school basketball team to knock on people's door in the hotel and then run away. Palmdale had a feeling of acceptance.
Deception has made many people including many Blacks believe negatively toward Blacks. This deception was created to sugarcoat the oppression that was used for monetary gains during slavery. Many negative views about Blacks came about during the time that the Founding Fathers were implementing slavery in this country. "It is only to say that perceptions had to be organized to recognize the differences and that men had to be organized to take advantage of them. The so-called differences were not the cause of racism; on the contrary, men seized on the differences and interpreted them in a certain way in order to create racism. Not only did they exploit differences' but they also created differences' and preserved them by force and violence (Bennet,1)". The created differences have become real differences today. Many people don't know why they actually feel the way that they do about Blacks but they do know "what" they feel. Worst of all many Blacks have internalized these differences and have let them become true for them. So here I am alienated trying to explain a story that many of my professors and classmates do not care to hear. A story that they won't believe is true. A story that I wish I didn't have to tell.
1. Jones, Mack; "The Black Underclass as a Systematic Phenomenon
2. Mack Jones, "The Black Underclass as Systemic Phenomenon"