There has a been an on-going fight within the black community between the Blacks and the N****rs. It is no secret that there are African-Americans who embrace the N-word on a variety of different levels for a dizzying array of reasons. I am no scholar on the topic of N****rs, but I’ve lived around two distinct sets of black people all my life! There are those who are decent, hard-working, concerned and engaged citizens and there are those who, for reasons that are obvious and anyone’s guess, do not exhibit any amount of dignity or pride for themselves or their surrounding. There have been debates on this topic from Congress members to activists, black and white. When we hear it coming from the white community, there is often outrage, but some of our own have bravely talked tackled the issue and have not backed down from the backlash about “airing our laundry” in public. The truth of the matter is, there is work do be done from within. Any black person who either resides in, works near, or has left such a community will probably admit, either openly or privately, that there is a difference between us and them. I am not inferring that we are a monolithic people who should remain united on all fronts; rather I declare the exact opposite. Within our culture our dreams and goals as well as our values, ethics and morals are often vastly different. Nonetheless, there is a bond that we share around the issue of race and discrimination; that unique shared experience that only Americans of African descent share that is coded in our language and actions where without saying many words, we know that we know what we know – and that knowledge will forever bind us as a people.
However, that does not stop us from being so divided on a range of other topics. The notion that black people should bear some responsibility for their lives is not new. The Moynihan Report talked rather extensively about the breakdown of the black family and how it led to the “tangle of pathology” that “will continue without any assistance from white people.” (I disagree.) There was also the (in)famous speech by Bill Cosby at the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education where he chided blacks about taking personal responsibility for their lives and community. Some disagreed with the good doctor, but I believe that there was a lot of truth in Cosby’s speech. I actually am an eye witness to these conditions on a daily basis as are my children. I consider myself among the relative poor in my community, so I am obviously not talking about ALL low- to moderate-income black people; it’s just that there are enough who do not exhibit a sense of pride for our culture and community where the rest of us are made to suffer the consequences of their ignorance.
This fight has been going on for a long time. It is dog-whistled in our conversations with one another as well as in our music, comedy and often local politics. This “long-simmering generational and class schisms among blacks” about our values will continue until we decide and realize that we must at least to some degree help us help ourselves. The government has proven through lack luster housing, education, and crime policies that we are not a priority despite the small victories along the way. We need a tide to rise as high as the housing developments that we were shuffled into to lift this intergeneration boat of folks from the basement floor to the penthouse where we can enjoy the same quality of living as those who fought tirelessly to keep us down.