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Posted by on Jun 15, 2014 in About Blackacre, Blackacre, Civil Rights, Leadership, politics, Progressive policy, Progressive Think Tank, Public Policy, Race, social welfare, Socio Economics, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Where the Hammer Meets the Nail

Imagine if you will a nail, all shiny and new. Small and slim it stands upright, its pointed tip pressed against a wooden board, its head directed towards the ceiling.

You hold the hammer in a hand of sinew and bone, poised above the nail, ready to strike. You are angry, aggrieved by past sins, slight and large, old and new, fresh and stale. One day you are the victim of the past; the next the victimizer, to the point of utter confusion and bitter resentment. Hatred burns within you; a cauldron that only makes matters worse.

This hammer; this bludgeon is yours to wield. The long slim handle fits your calloused hand perfectly. The head is heavy, the forked tongue of a lying snake at one end, the head of a flat silver dollar at the other.

With each whack of the mallet you bash the nail, striking it with all the rage and fury you possess. You marvel as lightning arcs across the room and amaze at the clang and the thud of each thump as one head unkindly meets the other.

And more intoxicating is the reverberation, the jolt of the assault as it transfers from the head of the hammer to its handle and into your arm, causing it to involuntarily twitch and spasm. The irresistible force of each blow mercilessly drives the nail ever downward, piercing the heart of the board and the soul of the man.

At poundings end, both the nail and the plank are beaten into submission. All that is left is a spoke scratched and misshapen by the hammer and the board, now pierced by the nail.

However, rather than know peace, you grow even more angry, perplexed and perturbed. For despite your best efforts nothing has changed. The nail still exists even if mostly obscured. So you select another peg and begin the process anew, determined to hammer and bash, knock and bludgeon, wallop and wail until you either find contentment or eliminate the very space between the hammer and the nail.

Sadly, this is more than a simple allegory. Where the hammer meets the nail is precisely were African-American can be found. It is more than a hang out and greater than a place to visit. It is our plight, our residence, our abode. Our children are born and raised there, we take our meals here. We live and die where the hammer meets the nail.

Difficult to navigate and hard to traverse, ours is a complicated and hostile environment. It defies simple explanation and is not easily escaped. We are betwixt and between; within and without; buffeted by two utterly opposed forces with irreconcilable perspectives. These incompatible forces are us and them.

Some argue that racism is a thing of the past, “the election of President Obama proving that systematic racial discrimination no longer keeps black men and women from success.” An article by Rebecca Hiscott, posted on June 10, 2014, and entitled “White People Think One Black Person’s Success Proves Racism is Over”, references a comment made by conservative pundit and former Secretary of Education, William Bennett on the significance of the 2008 presidential election. During an interview on CNN Mr. Bennett stated, “I’ll tell you one thing the election means, that you don’t take any excuses anymore from anybody who says the deck is stacked”.

The article also quotes a study by Clayton R. Critcher, assistant professor at the University of California, Berkley and Jane L. Risen, associate professor at the University of Chicago. According to the study, the exposure to a single African-American in a high performing position, any position outside stereotypical jobs in which blacks traditionally excel, e.g., sports and entertainment, is enough to make whites more likely to deny the existence of systemic racism.”

Not for a moment does Blackacre share this belief. We know full well that the deck remains stacked not only racially but economically, politically and socially against all disenfranchised people, regardless of color.

Nor do African-Americans, on the whole, subscribe to the “Bennett doctrine”. Yet, while we may not discuss it, can’t bear the thought of it and abhor admitting it we know that we are far from blameless. We realize that something is horribly wrong; that we are our own worst enemy, engaging in conduct that is indefensible and which only serves to reinforce racism. Take for examples the cultural images we produce.

One such likeness was captured in a recent electronic edition of “Rolling Out” Magazine. Proudly displayed were pictures of the crème de la crème of young black men. The photographs were disturbing to say the least.

With un-kept hair and clothes, threatening facial expressions, and tattooed skin, the men mugged and postured to no end. One grabbed his crotch, holding it as if it were priceless bullion. Or perhaps he viewed the gesture as a sign of his toughness, his manhood, his considerable sexual prowess. And these were wealthy, successfully young black men. If they approached me on the street, I too would cross to the other side, irrespective of their fame and fortune.

Still, the hammer versus the nail dichotomy persists even within the Blackacre community. White followers see the problem as one of personal responsibility. Blacks lean more towards the racial side of the equation.

And at times we at Blackacre question our perspective. Are we too hard on the oppressed while giving a pass to the oppressors? Are we relevant; have we become redundant, beating a horse that has long since died, thrashing its bleached husk to no end; for no purpose?

What makes the black conundrum so unique is that both sides of the divide are correct. Lingering racism combined with our own shortcomings are joint and several factors which literally places us between a rock and a hard place. Still, we must do something to change our predicament. The question is what?

Blackacre is convinced that we must pursue a two-pronged strategy. First invidious discrimination must be eliminated, root and branch. But we must also build rather than simply serve the disenfranchised. This is Blalckacre’s mission.

We therefore advance the following core principles:

1. Our challenges are not a problem of race. They are instead questions of socio-economics; matters of culture, character, conduct, values, public policy, economic opportunities and political influence.
2.  Since the problem is primarily ours then so too must be the solution. African Americans and all other oppressed people must therefore take the lead in addressing our issues. No one will save us but us. No one can stop us but us.
3. In order to succeed, we and the strategies we employ must change, evolve and grow.
4. We must not perceive ourselves as victims. We must not enable failure or excuse bad behavior. And we are entitled to nothing but a fair and equal opportunity to participate and prevail.
5. Our primary if not exclusive focus must be internal rather than external. In the final analysis, after all is said and done, the only one we can control is ourselves.

In conclusion, ours is to neither fear nor resent the hammer or the nail. Rather, we should use these tools to build a new and better world.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum
www.blackacrepolicyforum.org

8 Comments

  1. Leo, you hit the nail on the head. Racism is not always the issue, yet racism seems to be where the blame is normally placed. For instance, take Donald Sterling. Were his comments racist or a matter of his personal preference regarding: culture, character, conduct, values? We know, from what you pointed out Leo, that young black men embrace: un-kept hair and clothes, threatening facial expressions, tattooed skin, crotch grabbing, etc. The verdict might already be out on Donald Sterling regarding racism? But for those who judge him, I ask this:
    “WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?”
    Are those who judge Donald Sterling also carrying around $20 bills with the image of Andrew Jackson?
    Andrew Jackson was president during Black Seminole/Seminole Indian Wars during the 1830s.
    Jackson wanted Florida and wanted those people out!
    Move to Oklahoma or die! Sounds like George W. Bush telling Saddam Hussein he had 48 hours to get out of Dodge or else face the wrath of the U.S. Military.
    Andrew Jackson was a land grabber and white supremisist.

    • No racism is not always the issue. Even if it is, I am persuaded that the best way to deal with it is via a socio economic analysis of culture, character, values and conduct. I realize however that this position will not find value with some.

      As to your point about Andrew Jackson and the 420.00 bill, I only wish I had a lot more of them.

    • 100,000 $20 bills to be exact Leo. (he he. insider joke)

      I was listening to a Christian radio program today and the topic was: Should companies be allowed to discriminate and hire only English speaking employees?
      English is obviously a skill I argued like knowing a particular computer programming language; so Yes, companies should be able to discriminate in hiring this way.
      I would even go so far as to say that a company should be able to discriminate against hiring left-handed people (if applicable) in cases where costly machinery is involved and is built for a right-handed person to operate. If that company has 5 right-handed people working that/those machines it might not be cost-effective to have manufactured a left-handed machine just to accommodate a law that requires a machine to fit a left-handed employee that must be hired.

      Finally…

      There is a “line” that distinguishes between discrimination(i.e. one’s cultural,language,values,etc. personal preferences ) and racism.
      What President Andrew Jackson did was
      to cross that “line”.
      Forcing the American Indian to convert to the White Man’s Ways(i.e. cultural,language,values etc.) or else be led on a “Trail Of Tears” to Reservations in Oklahoma(virtual wastelands).

      It is one thing to push a race of people aside, and another thing to befriend them. It is one thing to work alongside a race of people, and another thing to enslave them. It is one thing to learn from a race of people, and another to cast off/write off their way of life as trivial. In a nation that confesses all men are created equal, do we men white men or all men?

    • Interesting analogy you make as to left handed people. I do not believe that hiring only English people without more, constitutes racism in the traditional sense of the word in that the decision may not be based on race, color, national original, gender, religion or political affiliation. However, the issue of racism is complicated. It depends in large part on intent.

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