Disintegration- the process of losing cohesion or strength.
Not too long ago I was scoping the books of my local library… really that is actually one of my favorite past times. Sitting on the floor of the library finding a book, reading, then somehow finding another book and another, reading the first few pages then getting distracted in another piece of writing. Due to my wandering eyes and sparked interests. So I found a book by Eugene Robinson, “Disintegration.” By definition I knew what it meant so I decided, hey lets pop open this book. After a few pages I was hooked, detailing and comparing wealthy Black America in the past and present and how things have shifted, of course outside the black community but also, interestingly, inside the black community.
As someone who appreciates the truth of the discriminatory practices against Black Americans by OUR OWN country and government being put on display, I have also found myself sitting through the “complexities,” of the relationships within our community. Within my community I am taking on the role of the President of my eldest sons African American Parent Council, one of my barrier that is not found within the other parent groups is the obstacle that has to be broken down to encourage parent participation. Not the work schedules, or the money, or things that can be seen throughout the entire community of the school, but issues that are seen mostly within our community. The disconnect and resistance. Not by all but by some. My desire is to create a strong black community on campus but its proving to be rather interesting as far as the barriers I need to break down.
Things that spark my attention is the language issue. I’ve noticed how language connects other communities. A close friend or more notably a stranger off the street, once its understood they share a common language and start the verbal exchange you see such a connection that Black Americans, sadly do not have. I’ve witnessed conversations about why don’t black people greet each other on the street anymore or black women do not smile at one another. Are we really connected?
Within the book Eugene Robinson described 4 different subgroups within Black America, that slowly splintered after slavery then Jim Crow etc. etc. The disconnect from the well educated to the well not so well educated poverty engulfed Black Americans, also Africans who immigrate to the states and how we mesh into their culture and how they relate or do not relate to us.
Ways how we identify ourselves now, that at one time our unity between us was because of the clear hatred against us, granted you had the “house negro,” or “Uncle Tom” but how if you were black and I was black it was agreed that we had common reason to be close to one another. We had a common and clear battle that required slave revolts and underground railroads, that even after slavery, water fountains and laws practiced that let you know who was black. Even within the book Eugene Robinson reminds us that discrimination still exists, but maybe since the shift from actual chains to invisible ones, Black Americans may have become the precise anticipated result of our experiences or lack thereof. I’m North Carolina born but California raised. I’m always told “You aren’t from here,” people can smell it on me. Which I kind of appreciate until white people say “I’m trained well,” which is more of an insult than a compliment…but then on the other side black people say “You are so sweet, nice and pleasant.”
I’m not highly educated but moderately educated, but still live and feel more comfortable around my people in the “hood.” I feel just like them no better no worse. Where I work is not where I play nor where I take my boys to play, I had the opportunity to have my eldest attend the schools in the neighborhood I work but I have also at work been called “colored” and have heard different regions of Asians referred to as “Asian Niggers.” As a mother sure they would have access to a great education but at the expense of me throwing them to the wolves.
I want all my people to win, but more importantly build a sense of community. Things that may have been overlooked was that everything placed against us counted on our demise, the best way to destroy anything is from the inside out. Poisoning the hearts and homes of the community, infecting and radiating from the inside out. Clearly there are many people doing the work I do which and doing it successfully and on a larger and more grand scale. The celebrities like Common, Ice Cube, Snoop using their platform to help the communities. But of course work still needs to be done, we may not have a language but we do have a history. Obviously, none of us living now have experienced slavery but still we have experienced other forms of injustice…Sadly hopefully knowing that can bring us closer together….