This past weekend, I was in need of some invigorating stimulus that did not include research, reading, writing, or any other academic venue that I normally enjoy to partake in as a form of higher enlightenment. I needed an escape from the term “seriousness.” Therefore, I took my best friend up on a one hour drive for a meat and potato dinner and then some fun at a riverboat casino. I am not a real gambler. This fact is easily surmised when one discovers that I have always had a $50 dollar limit when gambling. But I needed something different this particular weekend. Observing the array of people always seems to be more enjoyable to me then the thrill of decide to either hit or stay as I play Blackjack or allow my silly side to indulge and attempt to do my best Passenger 57 (Wesley Snipes, 1992) imitation and “Always bet on black” at the roulette table.
This particular night I was down to my last $5 bucks after losing the rest on a game I had no idea what I was doing. So I decided to finish the night by blowing the remaining $5 dollars at Blackjack. As I looked around, I noticed all the tables were full except one. It was a table consumed with one Black male and three Black females who seemed to be within my age range. Before walking over, I noticed there were actually two seats open. My visual observations noticed onlookers who were constantly maneuvering their chips within their hands nervously. It was apparent to me that they all seemed to have a desire to play at the only open table in the busy casino, but their eyes signaled to me a caution to avoid the loud, laughing, and at times cursing gamblers already present. I had no fear and had seen worse public behavior, so I sat down next to one of the females. My first and possibly only hand had been dealt 13 and the dealer had a 3 face card. I was about to ask the overly heaving busty woman within a ridiculously tight outfit to “hit” me. But just before my shaky hand was about to signal the dealer, the woman next to me said, “Honey don’t do that. Just stay.” I could tell in her eyes she was serious and quite concerned, so I then told the dealer I was staying at 13. Soon the dealer had busted. I won! I was excited and thanked my chair coach graciously. She later went on to advice me for the next 30 minutes. Due to her efforts it was possible for me to win all of my money back plus $40 dollars. I knew I was lucky, and decided it was time to do my best Kenny Rogers, by walking away and counting my money. Just before I left the table, I gave my new buddy a hug and then proceeded to say, “Thank you sista.” The others at the table began to laugh and in a way mocked me and kept repeating, “Your sista”?
Later in the car on the way home, the event made me think. Why was that gesture so foreign and funny? Was I somehow socially disconnected from them? As I pondered today, I came to the conclusion that possibly there were the ones disconnected. Why? Well, I argue that there has been a steady bleeding of the Black collective identity within the U.S. since the Black Power and Black is Beautiful era ended.
I am conscious of the fact that Blacks in America have never had total and mutual solidarity across all avenues of possible social and economic differences throughout history. But what was present at the height of solidarity within the late 50s, 60s, and 70s has declined. The muscle of solidarity that was once bulging has begun to undergo uremic myopathy. Mabogo More argues in Black Solidarity: A Philosophical Defense (2009) that Black solidarity and identity has been the response and “rallying call” for liberation against racial injustice.
In fact, Kevin Cokley and Collette Chapman note that the marginalization and oppressive measures that have targeted Blacks in the past resulted in periodic bolstering of Black collective racial identity and solidarity . Simply, Blacks have not had an opportunity to rejuvenate our collective bond as a historically oppressed people due to the fact that there seems to be no viable issue to bring us together. If this is true, the argument is conceivable. I argue that the covert manner in which the White racial frame operates today, has pulled the biggest trick on the on looking crowd as it has made what was so concretely seen disappear into thin air.
The French poet Baudelaire noted that “la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!” Simply translated, he was saying that “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” The illusion of people of color in prestigious positions in government, major corporations, medical fields have shown us that the chains that once stopped out feet from moving toward the brace ring of success have been cracked.
The media has helped to convince us as well that racism and oppression no longer loom their ugly heads to the country. When people do speak out against oppression or racism, cable television stations such as Fox and CNN bring on other people of color to discard these social anarchists. A day later, the topic has then faded into the night to never be revisited. Raphael Cohen-Almagor in The Limits of Objective Reporting (2008) concluded that in many cases the media does not display objective reporting either because they choose to be or are being manipulated by their sources.
The sense of “we” that was once present can only occur again once we as Blacks again align ourselves by pulling the blinds that have been placed upon our eyes in order to see the exclusion that is occurring within our public schools, universities, public policies, government, and etc. And once this occurs, we must promise each other to never forget the collective identity and shared pains that allows me to feel engulfed with joy when I call another my brother or sister.