Areas of Concern
The Life Cypher Project pledges to champion specific areas of concern regarding education, economic opportunity, the family and the black community. These guiding principles governs our vision of creating a society where all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Concern for Self
“Happiness starts not with your relationships, your job or your money, but with you.” -Unknown
The quest for a better black America is no different; this cause deals with the accepted yet toxic behavior patterns (e.g. drugs, drug dealing, gang affiliation, teenage/irresponsible sex, etc.) and how they double as pits falls that negatively affect the black community in a myriad of way. Black Lives Matter supporters spurn the mere mentioning of the term Black on Black crime, and scoff at the idea of addressing the black crime rate via the same platform that addresses police brutality.
While we agree that the black crime rate should be used as neither an excuse nor a justification for the deaths of innocent black citizens and not ignoring the fact that said crime rate is indirectly [and sometimes directly] caused by illicit policy making that create systemic conditions to entrap blacks, we also believe that our perceived desire and need to embrace toxic behavior patterns to survive is a concern that needs to be addressed.
Included in the addressing of illicit behavior patterns, is non-criminal topics that, for various reasons, are often neglected in the black community (e.g. a well balance diet, financial literacy, estate protection, politics, etc.). The “concern for self” cause isn’t an “It’s Our Fault! Let’s Fix it” agenda, it challenges blacks to police blacks; it deals us.
Concern for the Family
Today, black communities are over populated with teenaged and single parent households as well as fatherless, motherless or even parentless children. According to the data center for kidscount.org, research shows that in 2015 66% or 6,333,000 African-American kids were parented by a single parent. And although the success stories of various entertainers and professional athletes have proven that some single parent households can produce great individuals, many don’t. George Mason University’s Walter E. Williams stated that, “Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes, and end up in prison.”
That being said, it must also be noted that the traditional family structure for black people was broken long before the birthing of terms like, baby daddy, baby momma or deadbeat. The transgenerational trauma inflicted via the slave trade, where black families were ripped apart and sold to the highest bidder, isn’t something that heals with time, or with a few apologies from non-black people who feel bad about our plight. The stigma and stereotypes attached to African Americans has been preached, taught, and reinforced through virtually every social institution and communications channels.
Afro-Americans live in a society where they were legally enslaved, tortured, demonized, and declared war against, all while having shame and contempt heaped upon them for failing to behave like a “normal people.” Even with the Emancipation Proclamation, Affirmative Action, and the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the image of the black family has been [and continues to be] tainted with the negative social stigma that birthed this nation.
Concern for Education
“…the general philosophy that had developed since the civil war, was that if African Americans were kept ill-educated they would remain ‘in their place’ in society. An educated “boy” could become a danger. There was also a belief in some areas that African Americans were not intelligent enough to deserve an education. The shadow of “Jim Crow” cast itself over education in the south. The result of this was very much linked to the poverty most African Americans found themselves in – without a good education, no-one could advance themselves in southern society. Therefore, a poor education guaranteed a poor lifestyle for the African Americans. –C.N. Trueman”
The education problems [in our community] are a direct result of this nation’s oppressive and debilitating practices. From slavery to the Jim Crow era, access to public education systems has been limited (segregation) or prohibited (slavery and black slave codes) by local, state and federal government. Services for black schools routinely received far less financial support, had fewer books, the worse buildings, and their teachers were paid far less
A Supreme Court ruling (Brown vs BOE) played a key role in desegregating school, but according Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “We still have many neighborhoods that are racially identified. We still have many schools that even though the days of state-enforced segregation are gone, segregation because of geographical boundaries remains.” Today, the education systems aren’t directly limited by local, state, and federal government, however the constant budget cuts leave many urban community schools chronically underfunded, run down, and over populated—a proven recipe for disaster in the public school system. And with the majority of black families being of either the low or working class, considering private school [though beneficial] is an expense many blacks simply cannot afford.
Most black students don’t obtain a quality education until college, and undergraduate tuition today is grossly expensive; this forces many black students to use federal student loans to obtain a quality education, but most blacks don’t find employment with a high enough salary to cover their federal student loan payments, so the perpetual entrapment cycle continues.
Concern for Economic Opportunity
“…though those wicked days [of Slavery and Jim Crow] are past, their negative effects linger and fester. The economic toll on black people during the long decades of oppression are staggering –David Horsey.
The economic progress of black people suffers from 4 centuries of ongoing restrictions, obstacles, and setbacks. If we weren’t working for free (slavery), we worked for very little and were prevented from any type of professional development. Jim Crow [and other racist slave codes] restricted black people to menial education systems, low paying job positions, and impoverished neighborhoods; business loans and mortgages were [and still are] distributed based on racially bias intentions.
The one bright spot in those discriminatory days, was the various, flourishing communities that sprung up in the midst of the Jim Crow era. Communities like the Hayti community [in Durham, North Carolina], the Sweet Auburn District [in Atlanta, GA], or the Greenwood Community [in Tulsa, OK] existed as segregated, black communities that flourished in the midst of oppression and discrimination, yet were destroyed by jealous whites via race riot and biased policy making.
The legacy of practices like slavery and Jim Crow etiquette left behind a stigma… a racial stigma that continues to fuel bigotry and prejudice across the nation. These systems of racial control are directly responsible for a large segment of black families being nearly 4 centuries behind in education, economic opportunity, wealth building, estate planning and financial literacy.
Concern for the Black Body
“In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body – it is heritage.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In the early 1900, Ida B. Wells, an anti-lynching advocate, delivered a timeless speech denouncing the lynching culture and called for the implementation of federal policies that would protect black bodies. Those words ring as true today as they did more than one hundred years ago. After Emancipation, several Civil Rights Acts, and a Black president, it is both obvious and pathetic that the nation still has leaders that do not care for the state of black America. Since being freed, racism, lynching, and the attempts to enslave or subject black America to a second class citizenship status has not stopped.
The nation’s concern and value for the black body has never been a thing of importance and the fight for equal protection has been a trending topic long before social media or the #BlackLiveMatter hashtag. When a nation OKs the continued enslavement, torment and slaughtering of your race, it’s safe to say that their concern for your mental and physical well-being does not exist. Based on data from a 2010 to 2012 ProPublica analysis, black teens are 21 times more likely to be arrested, shot or killed by the police than their white counterparts. It doesn’t take a scholar to realize that these killings represent the continuation of the lynching culture of the United States. Not just the killings themselves but the nonchalant, cavalier response non-black give that speaks to the normalcy of it all; the unwarranted and unnecessary use of deadly force by law enforcement towards blacks isn’t a shock to them but the norm—It’s heritage.
This too must change.
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