Where Have the Rows Taken Us?

In the midst of all the murder, hatred, and crime going on in the African-American community, my mind began to wonder what has led our people to such a dark place? Of course, I immediately began to think about slavery, but that wasn’t enough. There is something that is so imbedded in our culture, that we are having a hard time seeing what it is, and since we are struggling to see it, it is even more difficult to fix it.

What could it be that has us lacking concern for our fellow men and women? Why are we killing each other at a rate of extinction? Historians will say that we were taught to hate ourselves through slavery. I agree, but is that it? Some would say that the Willie Lynch letter played a role then, and is still significantly important now.

That could very well be true, but what causes me to not care enough about what is going on with the person who lives right next to me?

What causes us not to care about the less fortunate African-Americans in our communities? Mamie Till said it best when she said, “Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, `That’s their business, not mine.’ Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all.” Even though many of us remember the story of Emmett Till, it has not been impactful enough to make us change. But why?

We have seen numerous murders of our people by the hands of white supremacists, and law enforcement alike. We now have white supremacy rearing its ugly head again, and yet we cannot seem to come together. Where did this stronghold come from?

I began to think deeper, and now I can say that I may have the answer. It was the rows. Yes, the rows of cotton picked by our ancestors during slavery. We were living together. We were in bondage together. Other than being separated by way of being sold, the rows became the way of developing village people into individuals.

When our people were working the cotton fields of the South, we did not realize the lasting impact that slavery would have on us. We did not know the fear that was bestowed upon our people. We did not understand what cultural behaviors would be lost, nor did we understand the new culture that was being birthed.

Imagine yourself at the start of a row of cotton. What is the goal?

The goal is to pick as much cotton as possible to make rate. You, and every other slave has a responsibility to your own row. You are also individually responsible for the punishment of not making rate. So by the end of the day, the master is now taking tally of your daily picks. One by one he is counting the weight of your bags. Whomever had the lowest amount, and whomever did not make rate, were then punished by way of the master’s whip. When this was all taking place, I am sure their minds were transforming as well. For every lash across the back, that person was becoming more and more of an individually focused person. Competing against their own people as a means of survival was birthed, and still lives today. Some may ask, “Why didn’t they work together to cover whatever the overall final weight needed to be?”

This was all a part of the plan. Could they have worked together to get the necessary end result? Yes, they could have, but this would have been building people who worked together, as opposed to working as individuals. Learning to work together for the common good of all would have been dangerous to the powers that be. If we could work together, then freedom would become inevitable.

Fast forward to 2017, and you will see where the rows of the cotton fields have taken African-Americans. We have become self-serving people. We are people who focus on what it is that we want, need, and desire as individuals. Even when it comes down to matters that challenge our moral responsibilities, we fail. When someone kills our children, we go down our row, and say, “That has nothing to do with me.” Some of our rows look like higher education, better neighborhoods, higher salaries, better social groups, etc. Yet while we are going down our rows as fast as we can, we don’t dare to look up, and see who is struggling. We won’t take a little bit out of our “bags” to help someone make “rate,” even if we are well above the standard. We stopped being family. We stopped being tribal. We stopped being village people who cared for one another. We are no longer inseparable. We have accepted the role, and our row, while hoping to never feel the lash of the master’s whip on our backs. We have become immune to our own collective demise. We don’t mind watching our brothers and sisters fall, or fail. When we do, we somehow look at our own people and do not see ourselves. We must change this behavior if we ever plan on being impactful as a race.

Is your row important? Yes, but not more important than your brother or sister. We can make rate by working together. One thing is certain, they could not have whipped all of us. That would have made for bad business then, and it makes for bad business now. So why not come together, and collectively win? There will be individuals who disagree with this, but we can’t worry about them. As you go down your row, raise your head, look around, and see who is not making rate, then help them. This can look like advice, a phone call, a connection to a job, constructive criticism, or even just telling them the truth. If you want to see something great take place in the African-American community, learn to work together for the good of the whole, and not just for the good of yourself.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black Network, talk show host, writer, and public speaker. email: gmeriweather1@gmail.com booking: info@blackonblack.network

 

 

President Trump, You Did Something Right…

Who would have thought the country would be in the midst of all of this turmoil in less than a year of the Trump Presidency? Initially, I did expect it to be bad, but never would I have thought it would  be like this.

Charlottesville, Virginia has become the birthing place for the “New Era of Racism in America,” and it has been fueled by the Trump administration, and the white-supremacists who salivate at every word he speaks. When watching all of the events take place in Charlottesville, I was infuriated, and wanted so badly to be in the middle of it all, putting my hands on someone, but then it dawned on me that this situation could be a positive, in a sick kind of way.

I began to look at the pictures of the mob of white men, walking around, screaming with Tiki-torches in their hands. I saw Klan members marching with their flags, while screaming, “We need to take our country back!” My frown immediately turned into a smile. My fists began to become unclutched, and I found a peace inside me that I had been longing, for quite some time.

One may ask, “How could you find peace in times like this?” I am so glad you asked.

My mind took me back to the “Malcolm X” movie made by Spike Lee. I remember when the Klan came to Malcolm’s father’s house. They had their sheets on, and their faces were covered. All Malcolm, his siblings, and his parents could hear was their voices. It was easy for those Klansmen to move about in the confines of society without anyone Black knowing who they were. Then I look at the news, and the pictures showing these men and women in Charlottesville, and all I could do was smile, because their boldness has allow people of color to see the officers, the guy at the grocery store, the supervisors, the high school athletes and coaches, the teachers, the soldiers, the executives, the police officers, and the politicians who have all claimed to have love for Black people, or may even say that they have a Black friend.

America has always been a racist country, and from the looks of it, shall always be. America has never wanted to deal with the issue of race. There are so many disparities that prove that racism exists (education, housing, equal opportunity, unemployment, underemployment, police brutality, etc.), but the powers that be have always figured out a way to cover their tracks. They have covered it up by allowing us (Blacks) to enter their schools, their restaurants, their hospitals, their sporting events, and their businesses. We started letting our guards down. Some of us started believing the hype. During times of segregation we felt that we needed to be like them, and threw away everything we had in order to feel accepted.

This sounds crazy, but I must say, thank you President Trump, you did something right. You have done something for Black people that we will never forget. You have done something that no President before you could get done. Your arrogance, ignorance, and boldness have allowed racists in America who were once hidden, to feel the need to show their faces. You helped them feel comfortable. You’ve helped them feel safe. You told them that that you were going to “Make America Great Again,” and they embraced you hook, line, and sinker.

For years we (Blacks) have had the hardest time proving that we were not seeing ghosts. We have had to tell stories of being mistreated, terminated, beaten, bruised, raped, lynched, and murdered to people who watched, and listened as if we were making it all up. President Trump, thank you for doing something right. You are the President who has exposed what so many Caucasian leaders before you thought, but would have never said. Those CEO’s from your manufacturing panel aren’t bailing on you because they disagree. They are bailing on you because you broke the cardinal rule of racism by actually saying your racist thoughts publicly.

President Trump, you did something right. You may go down in history as the President with the lowest approval rating. You may go down as one of the worst Presidents ever. Please know that your ratings aren’t down because of Black people. I am sure you know that your ratings were low with us way before you entered the White House. Your ratings are down because you have exposed racism in a way that allows the world to know that the American, and the racist way, are one and the same.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black Network, talk show host, writer, and public speaker. email: gmeriweather1@gmail.com booking: info@blackonblack.network.