First things first, the goal in answering is NOT to bring about anyone’s emotion. This isn’t about morality therefore in this discussion it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks a particular treatment is tragic or justified. A psychologist or economist limits their emotion and opinion in their analyses. Yes, they consider it in their notes. But in order for them to see more clearly and objectively they leave as much out as possible. Too much emotion may cloud and control our reasoning, as C.S. Lewis once framed it. So this “answer” is not about justification of riots, protests, cop killing, slavery, buying candy, or talking back to parents.
How am I somewhat objective and qualified?
If you follow me on social media you may notice that I have never talked about race issues. This is because (1) I’d rather write about Jesus; (2) honestly, I’ve grown to feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am black (something that applies to this topic but may be elaborated on in a future post) and (3) it always seemed pointless coming from me. That is, people would think I’m biased because I am black. I would NOT get upset at that either. I can’t really blame others for that natural reaction. If a Boston resident tries to tell me how great Tom Brady is…I’m naturally going to be skeptical because of course that guy loves Brady and The Patriots. However, I am opening up now because I realize much of the stuff I know isn’t known by many whites and what I can say isn’t being articulated by many blacks.
In today’s world, many people on both sides are not good with listening and being OBJECTIVE. In my experience black people get too emotional inside their bubble that they can’t have an objective discussion with white people. There has grown an innate level of distrust. Many whites, whether they care or not, have a hard time as well because they have natural blinders and historical privileges that prevent them from seeing objective as well. There is nothing inherently wrong with either side in their reasons because it’s not really a conscious effort. It’s naturally subconscious. For the past 50 years, most of this is due to the economic and sociological effects of our society.
What do I mean by sociological and economic effects? I’ll explain. This answer will be in 5 different phases: Micro, Macro, Familiarity of Stereotypes, Indifference, and Dr. King’s Frustration.
We’ve got to do a little ground work before we start though:
My professional career is in community and economic development. This is the process and policies by which a nation, state, county or city improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. So what my company does is try to bring companies, large and small, to our state. Jobs, capital investment, and revenue are the goal. And darnit we will sell this state the best we can. With statistics, innovation, and persuasion, and more.
Various KEY factors come into play, such as transportation, quality of life, location, money, branding, etc. If you look it up, you’ll see that your own city and county has its own economic development department, chamber of commerce, and other affiliates that are focused on this initiative together. Economic development directly affects the current generation AND the generations long after it.
Ok now, do we understand that? If so, we can move on.
1. The Micro
Now let’s begin to answer the question of why many black people see whites as responsible AND what is the reason of how much of the black community is where it is today.
We’ve got to go to history of course.
Set race aside and just view it in an Economic development lens. Let’s go back to Tulsa – however, not 2016, but 1921. There was an area in Tulsa that was booming! It was a black community. It was rare because of course the odds weren’t in their favor but they just luckily rolled a 7 with the dice multiple times. As one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, it was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” until the Tulsa race riot of 1921. They had black lawyers, doctors, teachers, black-owners, entertainment, oil, etc. (Now again, ignore the race factor for now…it doesn’t matter for this analysis piece). Then one night the outside white people grew too jealous, came in and killed many of the successful people and burned down their businesses and streets. It was horrific. They even punished the few white people around for not doing it sooner.
Then the white political and business leaders proactively prevented that community from reconstruction or picking themselves up. This wasn’t hard because due to rights back then black people didn’t have much of that ability anyways.
So think economic development: They are SCREWED for about the next 100 YEARS. For the next 60 years those blacks won’t know about diving into the community and economic development process. How could they? Their schools are IMMEDIATELY affected. Their job structure is shattered. Their families destroyed. They are currently crippled as a society. Not only that but also their kids’, kids’, kids’ are also now crippled. It becomes a generational snowball effect due to that initial occurrence and the laws established for years to come. There was no hope for them and it becomes too hard to thrive. Therefore, poverty in Tulsa. Therefore, violence because that’s all you have and know due to having to survive from being poor and having no good education or possibly/knowledge of escaping. (Although, poverty doesn’t correlate to violence). What happened doesn’t just end in a year…..it resonates within the fabric of a society for years to come in the form of both emotional distress AND economic instability (incorporating education, companies, businesses, families, crime, etc).
In my job, bringing in 1 company positively affects that entire community – their family benefit, the nearby retail and restaurants benefits, the schools benefit, tourism boosts, more companies follow suit, and more. This occurs positively for the next generations in that area as well. Black Wall Street had the opposite case. And it was not a single company. It was ALL of it.
That is an objective analysis of cause and effect. Again, it doesn’t matter if what happened was bad or good in this analysis. FYI, this happened in other places as well. We must understand this “momentum effect” in this micro example in order to understand the answer in its fullness.
2. The Macro
To keep low with word-count I’m going to bypass the macro. It has similar cadence to the micro piece but without the violence and is, of course, on a larger scale. Please ask me in person or on Facebook if you want that piece as well.
3. Familiarity Of Stereotypes
I grew up around Blacks and Hispanics, but over the past 10 years of my life at least 95% of my friends and acquaintances are white. So it is extremely hard for me to stereotype people in either group because I have lived life with so many different types and I know their souls and hearts. The way society is laid out (because of white flight, economic structure, convenience, and family history) black people have been left to live amongst one another. So those black people naturally HAVE to CATEGORIZE all whites into the same group. That is how a human brain works. This doesn’t happen to me because I have lived among others.
White people can easily get categorized by what is seen on television, social media, or in stories told by the older generations. For example, I’m sure none of us know any native Cambodians personally because we don’t live around them. So we naturally group Cambodians into one category of people. Now we know people in Cambodia are all different with various opinions, personalities, languages, and subcultures. However, in our minds we have tendencies to group them together don’t we?
The disbelief from much of the black community that a shooting or possible wrong-doing will gather positive help from the white community is from past years of “neglect” from that side and their current state of “emotionlessness”. That continual reaction from many white people makes it hard for many black people to listen/trust simply one white person with good intentions, when numerous other whites have failed that quota.
Let me explain.
If my mom had cancer and a stranger had cancer I’d show much more sympathy for my mother than the stranger. I naturally have a different level of connectivity and value for my mom.
One group continues to uniformly state “we should wait for the facts after these shootings before doing anything”. I agree, in theory. In a perfect world we should always wait and diagnose a situation. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Those same people flip-flop depending on what the crime is and who did the crime.
There is no objectivity in our reactions. We all react different and with different poise depending on what it is. The less subjective empathy I have, the more ability I have to refrain and diagnose the situation and wait for the facts. But when it’s my mom or a friend it becomes tough to control.
For the bomber “suspect” at the Boston Marathon – we wanted his head immediately. With a man “accused” of child molestation we want to give him the death penalty once he’s caught. When a college athlete is “accused” of rape we want him immediately kicked off the team before the trial begins. All the while, many in the black people continually watch a black person killed (justifiably or not) and those same people show unwavering objectivity and poise the entire time. That shows a different level of respect and love.
Black people see the immediate reaction of emotionlessness and interpret it as white people not caring.
In Romans 1 we see that God’s indifference is a very scary form of wrath; different from violence. Hate is NOT just someone spitting on another person. Hate isn’t only the KKK hanging someone. Hate can also be passive. Even Satan knows that. Indifference OVER TIME can be interpreted as unloving and hatred. That’s what happens psychologically in the minds of a people. So we can’t blame them that much, can we?
5. When Dr. King was Frustrated
MLK Jr. led protests in a manner that would “shame” those who were discriminating. People like to say his method was non-violence. Not really – his method was shame and he used nonviolence to achieve it. His tactic was that if he could have people feel ashamed for how they thought and acted, it’ll force them to change. Read his writings.
What’s interesting is that in his later years when King went to Chicago, he tried his same tactics but the white people beating them didn’t feel ashamed at all. It was different from the South. And it scared MLK. When a people aren’t aware enough to have the ability or respect to feel shame toward the treatment of someone else, then that is when something is off. Which begs the question of what the next step would be.
One friend I debated correctly claimed that ‘King’s tactic did work in the South though, because it was more saturated with Christians’. If that is true then it still proves my point: We, as a nation, are less Christian today. Therefore, King’s tactics of shame won’t work as effectively here anymore. That said, our nation is more like Chicago in that King was scared because it was seemingly and hopelessly in a state of chaotic reasoning that shocked him. It left Martin Luther King afraid and scrabbling for a new tactic. That’s where many in the black society would say we have been growing in subconsciously [through the eyes of blacks and whites]. Even in the past 50 years, before social media.
As scripture says, in the last days nations will turn their backs from Christ. America is doing that. Hence my friend’s point flows into this – shame isn’t working here anymore. hat’s why there are frustrated protests (good or bad) and riots (good or bad). That’s the only next step people can think of on the fly. We all have the same natural tendencies when trapped into a corner for so long.
In conclusion, we cannot just look at “today’s” knee jerk reaction of the black community. We must look holistically. This is similar to chaos theory. It’s ALL connected. This isn’t about black on black crime BUT black on black crime is a subset of the results of history. It’s not about Charlotte. Charlotte can be 99% wrong…but it doesn’t matter. The deep damage was already done.
This isn’t out of the blue. It’s a past 300-400 years thing. It’s a 1920s and 1980s thing. Look at old Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle stand-up and old low budget black films from the 1970s-1990s. They are screaming and crying about the same killings. And no one cared. Listen to R&B songs from that time period. They were constantly crying about it and asking for help and America turned it’s head. They didn’t have Facebook Live to make it public. I’m not making this stuff up. So little by little day by day that people group grew to a particular view of white people. Skepticism. Distrust.
The solution is another story, but when a black person tells a white person they don’t understand or aren’t qualified – They are really saying that you don’t know how they got there and why. Therefore they are not truly known and loved. But if the black person knows that the white person objectively knows this stuff and still wants to love on them…..goodness gracious the effect that will have.