The Private Man

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Archive for the day “January 24, 2012”

Incredible Comment

This past has nothing to do with a man’s Charisma but is tangentally related to relationships and is certainly about the power of the Internet.

The comment originates from the Martin Luther King post and is a response to a Munson comment. It was written by a reader and new commenter, Sincere. Rather than let the comment get forgotten in an older post, I thought it best to highlight it, front and center, as its own blog post:

I think the root of the problem goes deeper than the broken family unit. The real issue is that the American black man doesn’t have a history.

We can’t trace our lineage back to some faraway land. We aren’t told stories about the accomplishments of our great-great grandfathers.

And in school, we learn about Europe. And Asia. And India. And (of course) the United States. Our origin continent remains dark.

We don’t even have last names of our own. The natural result: we don’t have an identity.

So our community is left grasping in any and every direction, looking for a sense of self. This is an almost visceral reaction. At some level, we know that without a sense of self there can never be self-esteem.

And like you noted, fathers are a rare commodity. So some of us turn to musicians and athletes… the only other folks that look like us. In turn, we learn to stunt and to make it rain. Engineers don’t ball. Scientists don’t get bitches.

At least that’s the common Kool-Aid. But notice the key phrase above… “some of us”. Others are finding their identity in other ways, which I’ll get to in one moment.

We had real role models for a while. MLK, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Huey Newton and the like gave us something to believe in. They gave us an identity to aspire to.

They told us that there’s no need to be ashamed of being black. That you can be intelligent, well-read and confident. And that you can describe yourself as a man without using the adjective “black”. But we lost those men. And we were left with lofty dreams splattered all over the balcony, or podium, or apartment wall.

So naturally a vacuum was left behind. Esteem isn’t built overnight, and we still weren’t confident in our new position within American society. Yet the black rights movement was largely over.

That’s when the rappers and Jessie Jacksons tried to fill that void. I’ll refrain from commenting. But your point is right – a new, real leader has yet to step up to the plate.

Nor should one.

Despite of (or maybe due to) the loss of those leaders, the black community has outgrown the need for a new “black leader”. Integration WORKED. We don’t need to march for equal opportunity any more. We’ve already earned it, and signed for it in blood.

Poverty, drugs and violence are still problems in our community. But there’s also a counter note – a swelling wave of intelligent, ambitious black men and women that identity as Americans. And the upcoming generations are unique, they have been pulled closer together, thanks to the Internet, than any generation before it.

Of course, there are still remnants of times passed. I still get the occasional off-color comment (ha), but most are out of ignorance instead of malice. And once every couple of years I get pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black). You still have the older black folks holding onto a dead wrath, and older white folks with the same. But the beliefs MLK railed against are dying… along with the generations that hold them.

My circle of friends would’ve make MLK smile. The next generation will be even more color-blind, prosperous and “connected”. And if my pronouns weren’t explicit enough, I am a young black male. I’m a business owner, I don’t have a criminal record, I have a passport and I hardly ever say “aint”.

And I’m not alone.

This is the power of an online community. The Internet is a series of connections amongst circles of like-minded folks. Sometimes, the circles overlap as is the example of Sincere. Sometimes, the circles are in conflict (no names mentioned).

I have filed this post under “The Collective Wisdom of Men” because that’s where it belongs.

Of course, it would be quite disheartening if Sincere were merely a sockpuppet.

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