A New Social Compact
Recently, President Barack Obama initiated a new initiative entitled, “My Brother’s Keeper”. The purpose of the initiative is to address the challenges facing minority males, the least of which is the new slavery of the criminal justice system. “My Brother’s Keeper” is a noteworthy and much needed endeavor.
Blackacre is nevertheless persuaded that charity begins at home; that the answer to what ails Black America is self determination and self sufficiency. We are further persuaded that the key to avoiding the bondage of the criminal justice system is to starve the beast. Involvement in the system is like AIDS. Once charges are filed it is too late. The patient is already infected; the defendant is already enslaved.
The time has therefore come for African Americans to adopt new Code of Conduct. A new set of rules to govern individual conduct, to provide the context for social interaction and to reinforce the collective obligations owed to one another. The tenants of the new compact might include the following:
Rule No. 1: Do not harm others. While slave on slave violence undoubtedly occurred during traditional race slavery, it has reached new heights in modern America. The following is nothing less than shameful.
- Overall, blacks are 6 times more likely to be homicide victims and 7 times more likely than whites to commit homicides. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Homicide Trends in the United States: 2002 Update, page 2.
- The same study found that 94% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks. A full 80% of murder victims knew their killers, 16% were related to their killers and 52% of the victims had a romantic or social relationship with their murders.
- Almost half of the victims died in fights arising from property disputes, domestic arguments, insults or feuds.
- Approximately 11% of victims were involved with the killer in illegal drug activities, 12% were collaborating in other criminal activities, 30 % of female victims and 10% of male victims were killed by their spouses. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Murder in Large Urban Counties, 1988.
If the goal of the white racist is the genocide of African American, the KKK can hang up their robes. They need not lift a finger. From fratricide, to infanticide, to suicide, to drug addiction, to domestic violence, to obesity, we are killing ourselves. If African Americans just take and live out the pledge to never intentionally harm another African American, emancipation from the new slavery will naturally follow.
Rule No. 2: Do not idolize or make excuses for African Americans who engage in destructive behavior, who violate the law or who harm others. With the possible exception of Hispanics, African Americans are the only ethnic group whose young people worship thugs, pimps and convicts. And far too many are getting rich by glorifying criminal and destructive behavior. African Americans can no longer tolerate blacks, who harm other African Americans or who engage in cultural pathology and social suicide. Blacks can no longer afford to be their own worst enemy. The “Stop Snitching” movement be damned.
This does not mean that African Americans should be insensitive to or ignore the very real factors that lead to the new slavery. Neither does it mean that we should forget that racism is alive and well in America. Life is hard, even without the burden of racism.
The vicissitudes of life however are no reason to give up. Success is not measured by the results achieved but by the sincerity of one’s effort. Every time a black person violates the law, or hurts another black person, the criminal justice system is enriched. A new slave has been created, adding to the bottom line of the system.
And like the Kroo of Africa, one of many African tribes who captured and sold other Africans to white slave traders, the aggressor has hurt another Black man, woman or child, destroyed another Black family and diminished the entirety of Black society. Paradoxically, African Americans who murder and victimize other African Americans are the ones who yelp the loudest about the importance of being Black. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Rule No. 3: Obey the law. As a general rule, a person cannot become a new slave unless and until he/she gives the criminal justice system personal jurisdiction over them. Jurisdiction is acquired by engaging in conduct that rises to the level of probable cause that a crime has or will be committed. Those who operate and/or benefit from the criminal justice system will not hesitate to enslave us if we give them the chance. We must deny them this opportunity. And the best way to do so is to stop engaging in criminal behavior.
More importantly, when we break law, we give law enforcement the “moral high ground” in the debate over the excesses, abuses and racism of the criminal justice system. Anytime we point out the systems obvious racism, those who profit from our incarceration have the perfect rebuttal.
The new slave merchants whether they be white, black or any shade in between, can argue that racism and making money have nothing to do with the mass incarceration of black men; that they are instead motivated solely by the reasonable if not noble desire to protect society from the thugs and violent predators who threaten civilization. Thus, they are actually doing us a favor by putting our children in jail. And they can obliterate any further discussion of the matter by arguing that those who point out the inherent racism of the system are “playing the race card”.
The sad fact is that to some extent they are right. Far too many African Americans are violent nihilist. Far too many young black men and women are serial lawbreakers who pose a threat to their own community.
Rule No. 4: Avoid the appearance of criminal activity. There is no doubt that racial profiling exists. However, this does not permit African Americans to do everything they can to fit the racial profile and then complain about it. It is not enough to avoid breaking the law. We must stop making it easy to become a neo slave by avoiding all suspicious or questionable behavior.
Rule No. 5: Avoid negative or destructive people. Always remember, you are judged by the company you keep. If an associate is always talking about hurting other people or breaking the law, that person is not your friend. What they will do to others they will eventually do to you.
Rule No. 6: Think before you act; strive to make wise decisions. We all make mistakes. To err is human. Nevertheless, we are obligated to learn from our mistakes. We cannot afford to be “stuck on stupid”. A significant number of people are made new slaves because they violate the number on rule of criminal jurisprudence, i.e., criminal stupidity. There is no excuse or defense for someone who faces ten years in prison for revocation of felony parole, a year in county jail on a new misdemeanor charge and two additional years in prisoner on a repeat offender sentence enhancer, all to run consecutively, to risk revocation of his or her community based supervision, by doing something stupid an picking up another charge.
Rule No. 7: Do not look for trouble. Driving with a broken taillight or without a license or hanging around “gang bangers” and dope dealers is looking for trouble. If trouble does arise, remove yourself from the situation. If someone is breaking the law, avoid both them and the scene. If a person is being assaulted, don’t just stand there taking morbid delight in their misfortune. Go home.
Rule No. 8: Embrace learning. The first thing African Americans should learn is our own history. We should know about the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and our culpability in creating and sustaining it. We should study the March to the Sea and the Middle Passage. We should research the tactics of the “repressive slave mentality” and the economic basis of race chattel and race conviction slavery. And we should educate ourselves as to the historical use of drugs and chemical addiction to destroy minority cultures. Education is a good thing and the pursuit of knowledge is not acting white. There are few things worse than being comfortable with the absence of knowledge.
Rule No. 9: Become self reliant; learn to do for self. Does America owe African Americans for centuries of enslavement and discrimination? Absolutely. Will America make good on this moral debt? Absolutely not. This is a debt we cannot collect. Like all bad debts it is better to write it off and move on. The world owes us nothing.
Rule No. 10: Redefine core concepts like manhood, womanhood, strength and respect. Teach your children what it means to be a real man or woman. Real men and women take care of the people they love. Real men and women go to work everyday not because they want to, but because others depend upon them to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
There are many things in life more important than self. It is the weak, not the strong that are violent and vicious. Real strength lies in nobility, respect, civility, charity, self-sacrifice, hard work, intelligence, kindness, compassion, honesty, sincerity, humility, loyalty, commitment and service to others.
Rule No. 11: Preserve the family and make the raising of children the number one priority. Social scientist have long been aware of the immense gap in the way poor parents and middle class parents whatever their color, treat their children, including during the earliest years of life. In middle class families the child’s emotional, social and cognitive development, takes center stage. It is the primary if not sole reason for being. Poor parents tend to raise their children differently because they see being a parent differently. The wants and needs of the adults, rather than the children are paramount.
By the time the children are 4 years old the results of child rearing are extremely hard to change. Thus, the culture of adult centric child raising is a recipe for generational poverty. The mission is …how you shape children in a democratic society into self-disciplined, self reliant, skilled workers in a complex economy. The stubborn truth remains that child centeredness is the only way parents can raise successful children. Kay S. Hymowitz: Cause and Effect, The Dallas Morning News: 6 P, Sunday, May 8, 2005.
Hence, nothing is more important than our children. Not our degrees, reputations, feelings, cars, clothes, hair, make-up or nails.
Rule No. 12: Make peace with the past by rejecting the legacy of the “repressive slave mentality”. African Americans should not forget the past. However, we must live in the present and look to the future. Living is by definition messy business. But we are defined not by not our history, but by the decisions we make. We are measured not by who we are or the color of our skins, but by our conduct. We are weighed not by our achievements, by how we deal with our trials and tribulations. And we are not judged by our failures, but by or earnest efforts to succeed, to grow and to prosper. There is tremendous value in merely trying to do one’s best, regardless of the outcome.
We must also realize that as heinous as slavery was, we are not the only race, ethnic group, or people who were enslaved. Others have known horrors even worse than ours and for even longer periods of time. We must neither fear, nor hate anyone merely because of their race, black, brown or white. Not all whites are bad – not all blacks are good. Character is significantly more important than race and we can no longer afford to be our own worst enemy.
Rule 13: Exercise the right to vote. One of the reasons for the black condition is because politically, African Americans are easily ignored. And African Americans are easily ignored because we do not hold accountable at the polls politicians who act contrary to our best interest. We don’t vote and/or do not consolidate our vote into a potent political force with which to be reckoned.
This is especially true of local politicians who run the criminal justice system. District attorneys, judges, mayors, city council members and sheriffs are all first and foremost politicians. If these or any other local, state or national politicians support racial profiling, police brutality or otherwise do not reflect our values and beliefs, African American have the power, right and obligation to vote them out of office.
Rule 14: Focus on social, economic and political empowerment. We are only as strong as the number and viability of our options. A strong social foundation, economic prosperity and political muscle provide a wealth of opportunities for improvement.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO,
Blackacre Policy Forum,
 Leo Barron Hicks, “The New Cotton, From Race Chattel Slavery to Race Conviction Slavery,” L. Baron Hicks Publishers, 2007, p. 111-115.