Black Negativity: A Festering Wound In Our Community

negativity (3).png

I spent a decent amount of time pondering a smooth way to ease into the subject of this article, but my effort has amounted to nothing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no easy way to transition into said topic. So here ya go.

What is it about the African American community that causes us to hate each other so much? It seems like regardless of where we’re from, how we were raised, or who has shaped our experiences we still have a significant number of African Americans that feel the need to speak negatively about our race. My question is simply, why? I’m fully aware of the crabs in the barrel mentality that has become a staple in our community, but why has it become a mentality specifically reserved for our race? Now don’t think that I’m ignorant to the fact that all races have negative feelings towards themselves (like the people that believe black on black crime is the only crime that seems to plague America’s streets); I’m very aware that white people have their fair share of disagreements and negative views of each other, but they don’t allow their differences to keep them from engaging in financially lucrative ventures. White people look at the big picture and set aside their issues for the economic and social betterment of themselves and their families. This can be seen in other minority races as well. People disagree, argue, bicker, and fight, but it seems like our race takes things to the extreme. African Americans believe that we have to bad mouth, physically assault, or cut people off that hurt us. To deeper this discussion, a second question should be posed: what is hurt that lies beyond the obvious emotions?

To me, pride is the most reasonable answer. African Americans are prideful people and we make a lot of decisions based on this emotive stance--whether it is our families or our nation (yep, good ol Merica!). Since pride is one of our recurring factors in decision making, and when the conclusion doesn’t turn out the way we planned, we have to nurse a wounded ego. There are positive and negative ways to deal with a bruised ego. A positive example would be swallowing your pride and telling the person that hurt you what they did and how it has affected you.

This, however, is hardly ever accomplished within our race. The fear is that in swallowing your pride you become vulnerable to the person that hurt you, which creates the potential for more hurt if your feelings aren’t acknowledged. We as a community don’t like the feeling of being vulnerable so swallowing one’s pride is hardly decision we choose. The hope is that opening up will allow your friend to explain their decision making process, which would provide clout and provide closure between yourself and that person. You can then decide to continue to build a healthy relationship with the person or distance yourself based on the results of the conversation.

A negative example (cause you know I had to come with a positive and a negative) is cutting the person off or not talking about the issues and keeping the person around. This does more damage to yourself than people actually realize. A lack of communication leads to you to expressing yourself in nonverbal ways. You try to cope with your pains in unhealthy ways, like excessive drinking, multiple sex partners, or you begin to lash out against family, friends, associates, or the person that caused the pain. While all three of these situations happen quite frequently in our race the lashing out is the topic I choice to discuss further.

When you decide to lash out at people you damage numerous relationships and burn bridges with people that provide some sort of benefit to you. You focus on operating out of spite and begin to search of weakness in others that you can explore for your own amusement.  You begin to find ‘pleasure’ out of the pain you inflict on others, when truthfully you’re pushing away loved ones, submerging yourself into a world of loneliness and distancing yourself from your growth. This happens to be the choice that most African Americans choose, and we eat away at ourselves because of it.

We don’t think before we act, we lose value in people and want to drag everyone into our level of pain and despair. These actions cause us to develop hatred for everyone that we see in a better mood than us, and this hatred clouds our judgement. Instead of focusing on picking up the pieces and rebuilding ourselves we continue to sink into our emptiness. From here, a cycle is created and we become consumed with getting even. The desire to get even affects our community because we are no longer able to see the direction/goals that we had mapped out for our life and we become stagnant. Hatred causes you to accept that you’re in a low place and forces you to fester on your negativity. I believe that African Americans hatred developed from this cycle (on top of colorism aspects of the systematic oppression that has be implemented on our race for over 300 years). Because we aren’t able to accurately hash out our issues we’re unable to create businesses that reach the magnitude of Nike, Windows, Apple, or (insert multi-billion dollar companies that are dominantly owned by white people).

These companies are as successful as they are because their owners are able to communicate when issues arise, accept their differences, make personal changes when necessary, and support each other for the betterment of their success. The consequence is the success of their race. If we as African Americans are able to come together and unify regardless of past disappointments, we will be able to make such changes. We would have a better opportunity to grow multiple businesses and support one another throughout our ups and downs. Celebrities are able to accomplish this. When you look at the likes of T.I., Ludacris, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Jay Z and Nas (just to name a few) all have had some form of issues that they were able to rectify for the sake of their growth (all proceeded to create projects with one another and produce capital for a number of people). We need to adopt the same thinking when it comes to our daily interactions with people. If personal issues are corrected, and we were able to continue various relationships with each other there's no telling what kind of monetary gain we could generate. We can’t allow our pride to continue to hinder our growth anymore.

African Americans can see a member of their community living the life that they want to live and would be quicker to speak negatively about that person than ask the person for hints or tips on how to get that kind of lifestyle. They would rather rob the person, break them physically and mentally, and leave them with nothing so that they would both be on the same social or financial level than look for assistance. When this occurs they don’t see that they’re dragging another African American into a low place that they don’t know how to navigate upwards to themselves. This does nothing, but keep African Americans at the bottom of the totem pole while other races reap all the benefits.

I’m sure by now you’ve been screaming about the systematic oppression, mass incarceration, and other strategies in place to keep a gap between African Americans and seemingly everyone else (especially white people) and I’m not blind to any of this. I am a firm believer that the system is skewed to benefit that majority race and other races that are willing to push the majority race’s rhetoric. These handicaps have been well documented and won’t be going anywhere any time soon. My focus with this article is geared to focus on what we can control. Why provide more negativity to someone’s life when they’re already living with a limitation? We need a cultural awakening that informs African Americans about the world’s real view of us and how unity is the first step to a better tomorrow for ourselves. We have become very quick at jumping on other races when we see injustice, but don’t see a need to discuss how our own people would rather see us fail on a daily basis. We’ve got to do a better job of holding ourselves accountable. “But, Leland, what about the African Americans that make it and turn their backs on the brothers and sisters that helped them get their success?”

Yes, there are a number of prominent African Americans who become successful and don’t acknowledge anyone in the African American race, but as a people we can’t allow ourselves to think about those people. Doing the right thing 50% of the time will give you better results than doing nothing 100% of the time. Imagine what those results would look like if we did the right think 100% of the time instead. We owe it to ourselves to push each other and focus on the positive side of one another. Individualism is an issue in the African American community because humans are naturally communal. We need to be surrounded by people that want to help grow in the right direction and stop attacking people that look like you. African Americans have been forced to be bottom feeders in the U.S. and we need to do more in our community to change that fact. We can’t be satisfied with mediocrity or blame others for our status in the world’s view anymore. We must unite if we’re going to see any real change in our generation. Our unification comes from personal change, positive energy provided to our people, and communicating at all times. Providing hate and negativity to those that are in a better position than ourselves will not lead us to an improved world. It will only keep us in a downward spiral as a race and our ancestors have worked too hard for us to let all the work become undone by their own children.