We Need a Revolution! The Weakened State of Black Solidarity



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.

Comments

  1. Thanks for writing on this issue, Dr. Fitzgerald. I’ve noticed the same trend of declining solidarity, especially among young black students on campus. I take heart, though, when I consider that we still vote together and, most importantly, Black revolutionary acts (e.g. slave revolts, nationalism, pan-Africanism, the “Civil Rights Movement,” etc) have never involved all, or even most, African Americans.

  2. marandaNJ

    Hi Dr. Fitzgerald,
    I always enjoy reading your posts. For one, you are a talented writer! Your anecdotes bring your concepts to life.

    Anyway,to address just one of your many points: I have also wondered why the media has pretty much dropped the reporting of racial issues for the past [how long?] 30 years at least. How I believe the media works is, when issues are perceived as no longer of interest to the majority of Americans, they are basically shelved.

    During the Civil Rights Movement, the entire concept of black solidarity was fresh. A disenfranchised, formerly invisible population suddenly refused to be ignored. America was fascinated. It was all about The Age of Aquarius, and tearing down pretence to be replaced with a more deeper look at our society. Even movie stars jumped on the band wagon. I remember a talk show where some “star” was saying to David Frost, “I can understand why hippies won’t wash their hair and wear Brooks Brothers suits. It’s a protest against The Establishment which is clean on the outside but dirty on the inside.”
    Fathers of teenagers would giggle and shake their heads at kids wearing bell bottoms and tie dyed shirts and moan, “Hippie Power!” Everything was about trying to understand the underdog, and of course that included African Americans.
    Then it got old. Those same dreamy-eyed kids who swore they’d never live in shallow suburbia became bored with discussing the problems of the underprivileged and got married, started investing in the stock market, driving a Mercedes, and [yeah you guessed it] wearing Brooks Brothers suits.
    The media reflected this perfectly. Key example: Michael Douglas. He was the hip, socially conscious guy who starred in The China Syndrome with Jane Fonda about the dangers of nuclear energy facilities. He was willing to risk getting arrested, losing his job to secretly film what was happening inside the Ventura Nuclear Facility.
    Fast forward 30 years. Here comes the older, cynical, and “more sophisticated” Micheal Douglas again as Gordon Gecko, the tight-fisted, ruthless Wall Street mogul who gave that prize-winning speech about how Greed Is Good. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
    The News Media or Fourth Estate has never been completely impartial. The length of time a given news article is covered [4 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds], the sequencing of the stories [biggest impact is the story that comes first], the people the media chooses to interview, the people who actually cover which stories [the cute, sexy blond or the more distinguished gray haired guy] all determine how America will respond to that particular story.
    The point is, media coverage is really about what sells. If it’s determined that America won’t tune in and bring on the ratings, then stories are closeted. Racism hasn’t been on the Newsflash Special Addition list for a long time, until President Obama. Now it’s news again.
    But that doesn’t mean that black people, as you stated, should go into a somnambulant state. I agree Dr. Fitzgerald, we do need a shot in the arm. I’m white, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate your observation. African Americans need to maintain a strong solidarity cause they’re still nowhere near where they should be in American society.

    • Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

      Thank you for your kind words. As for your comments, I agree totally. I just long for days when all people, Whie, Black, and etc. would not allow for the media and their savvy techniques to blind and divide us.

  3. No1KState

    Year, we’re not as strong as we once were. Like veterans of the CRM have already noticed, this echo-boom generation has been tricked, cunned, bamboozled! Only on HBCUs is the sort of necessary racial solidarity nurtured. Everywhere else, even identifying as a race is frowned upon. Acknowledging race, even your own, has been equated with being angry if you’re black. I mean, let’s face it, white America has done a grand job of convincing themselves that symmetry is the same as equality; the “racist” is the new “nigger.” When everyone and everybody tells you racism doesn’t exist, and you’re not provided the resources to find the truth, it’s hard to constantly have to shield your psyche. After a while, you start to wonder if your eyes aren’t lying to you.

    So, I definitely agree.

    That said, are you sure your body wasn’t hitting on you and didn’t want to be “just” brotha and sista?

    • Dr. Terence Fitzgerald Author

      I hate to say it Joe, but I do not see any signs that organization is occuring on a large scale. Yes, I do see it among a small pocket of scholars in the field. But true organization that focuses on the problem of oppression does not seem to carry weight these days. I seem to find myself shaking my head when I listen to popular Black radio personalities discussing organizing this or boycotting that-It always reminds me of a 140lbs. fly weight going 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. One should not even leave for popcorn for the fight will be over in seconds.

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