If you watched The Daily Show this week, aside from President Jimmy Carter making a visit, maybe you saw the montage of Reverend Jeremiah Wright “clarifying” his various statements. I cringed and cringed and cringed. As a Black man, to see an adult, ex-military, presumably educated black man go into multiple media venues and express himself with seemingly no regard for the impact it would have was mind blowing . And I’m not even running for President! God almighty, what must life be like for Barack Obama these days? Watching Wright do a Stepin Fetchit routine in particular was so upsetting I had to just turn the volume down. I couldn’t take it. Well of course, Obama came right out there and said what he was supposed to say “I denounce his actions…”
But most (white) Americans are probably scratching their heads and have no idea what happened. Hell, I’m sure even some BLACK people are wondering what the hell would make a man do that. What would make a man, who says he’s the friend of another man, go out in public and cripple him? A Black man. A minister no less. To destroy by association, another Black man-who’s running for President? First time in HISTORY that a Black man might have an actual snowball’s chance in hell of winning . So how could this happen? I’ll tell you. As it happens all three of US are from Chicago. (Barack is an import, but he’s put in 25 years so we’ll call him a Chicagoan). And most people do NOT know what being Black in America is like. And most people REALLY do not know what being Black in Chicago is like. That. Is. A. Unique situation. I kid you not. Keep in mind, I had been out of town for nearly 20 years, and when I got back almost 3 years ago I had to RE-learn what being Black meant around here.
By now I think it’s become part of the lexicon to talk about “Black on Black crime.” It’s one of those platitudes people throw out there whenever yet ANOTHER crime takes place “in the city” and gosh darned, they just wanna make sense of it all! But have you heard about the crabs in a basket analogy ? I’ve heard that when crabs have been captured and they’re all piled in a basket if one tries to claw his way out the other crabs will pull him back down. None of the craps escape. The fishermen don’t even need to put a lid on the basket; the other crabs will do the work for them. Can you see where I’m going with this? And so it is with Black Americans; especially in Chicago. Did you know that the 1st generation children of African immigrants (and even Jamaican immigrants!) tend to do better in education and economic growth then most long standing Black people? Say, isn’t Obama’s dad an African? And aren’t Colin Powell’s folks from Jamaica? Yeah, the Black people in this country have a problem . And that problem is NOT White people; it’s other Black people. Shhhhhhh!! This is kinda secret. I mean it’s the worst kept secret since…well, no this is the worst.
There used to be a rap song in the 80’s where the refrain was “Self destruction, you’re headed for self destruction!” Well that’s us! And Chicago is like a petrie dish for me. It is easily the largest grouping of Black people, unbroken by other races, in America. In other words it’s the biggest Black neighborhood in the world. And because of that, all of our bad habits are MAGNIFIED here. So let’s just say on any given day on this side of town (that’s the South Side y’all) you’re very likely to hear “man them niggers is crazy” at least a dozen times. Oh yeah. It’s a VERY popular expression around here. And the reason for that is…well them niggers IS crazy. What can I say?
Reverend Wright is not only a product of this environment, but he’s a product or our cultural flaw of crab-like behavior. Rather than see another Black man move in an impossibly lofty position he’ll ruin him. He’ll ruin him. NOBODY else has it in them like us; sit down for a moment and reflect on the one step forward, 2 step back hokey-pokey the Black population has been doing for all these years. We are broken on such a deeep level that a guy whould make himslef look like an ASS on the world stage (and it’s going in the history books folks) out of vindictiveness. I’m asking you to consider the SCALE of what he did and then try to imagine some other group of people doing that. Especially given how often we do it. It’s unimaginable for ANY body else except Black people. We knew what it was right away.