What’s Your Reaction to “The New York Times” Opinion Piece – “The end of Black Harlem”?

What’s Your Reaction to “The New York Times” Opinion Piece – “The end of Black Harlem”?

A friend and colleague sent me the New York Times Opinion Piece “The End of Black Harlem” and I’m trying to process how to suppress my anger and to whom it should be directed. Many of you know me from 40 years ago, I was the young, enthusiastic African-American male who thought starting a magazine called ROUTES, A Guide to Black Entertainment would demonstrate how proud he was of his people. In today’s jargon “A Guide to Black Entertainment” may not seem like it had much to do with African-American culture, but when one looks through its pages there’s no doubt  it has everything to do with his respect for his culture.

What’s happening today in the United States has everything to do with disrespect for the African-American culture. It’s impossible for African-American’s to express their opinion about obvious daily genocidal assaults without being called an “Angry Black Man or Woman.” Many outside of the African-America culture unapologetically hurl disparities at all African-Americans—justifiably disregarding the past and present atrocities heaped upon them by the “Omission and commission” white community. I’ve asked many a friend “What does a racist look like?”

Who is to blame for what’s happening in Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant and elsewhere in the United States? Can any aware African-American dare say out loud what he thinks without being called anti White? Are those African-Americans who were in/are in positions of authority reverse the plight of the average citizen in their communities? Neither on the local nor on the national level does the situation seem to be a priority. My experience tells me that if this dire situation was a white problem, this community would be seeking solutions from their local and national politicians. African-American politicians, well that’s another dire situation! The Church in the African-American community—”Seek salvation in the next life.”

I think the New York Times Piece should have read “The End of African-American Culture.” An undiluted evaluation of the present state of African-America —”no leaders, no money, no power, no media”. Our young popular hip hop singers denigrate their their mothers and sisters as “Bitches & Whores” and get away with it–many in our own community praise them as “creative and poets, I think they lack   “adult supervision.”

Media which can deliver vital information and a positive image to the African-American community is either under someone else’s control or has been eliminated—Essence, gone; Ebony/Jet, gone; BET, gone; WBLS, gone; WWRL gone; African-American theater, JUST ABOUT GONE; sensible, respectable, loving African-American music, GONE. I’m sure YOU can fill in the other areas of the African-American infrastructure that are GONE. Are YOU feeling helpless or YOU just don’t care? Are YOU blaming integration? And what are YOU doing about it? I’m doing my part with ROUTES-MAG.COM. Do you think YOU should be actively supporting ROUTES. Or perhaps YOU should be supporting “The Root”,   “On Monday, Univision Communications Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic Americans, announced that it has acquired The Root, the leading online news, opinion and culture destination for African Americans.” The Root was launched by the esteemed Louis Gates, Jr. and subsequently sold to Univision.. Or perhaps YOU don’t care about who describes your culture? Did you know that up until 1965, African-Americans didn’t write their own cultural history? 51 years later we seem to be moving back in that direction with accomplices. And no one of authority in the African-American community is taking effective notice.

A couple of months ago, I comment on a Langston Hughes prophetic poem Langston Hughes(1965): Tales of Simple: “Coffee Break” and no one responded to my comment, so I’m reprinting it here.

Ten years ago, I was riding a bus through Harlem and a man, most African-Americans who grew up in inner cities, know as a “little” crazy, was shouting and pointing at a new high rise building  “who the fuck is going to pay a million dollars for an apartment in that building?” I hypocritically thought to myself  “:Not you.” But this “loony” was speaking about something we all knew the answer to—”NOT US.”

I think each individual must make a determined effort to support those persons and institutions that have in mind.the welfare of the community  Inactivity is not an option.  Or am I a lone effete angry African-American man? What do you think?

 

 

 

 

7 Responses

  1. R. Leo Brown
    | Reply

    I think it’s just so sad that African Americans, will not support what’s left of their own culture that originated right here on American soil. What’s even sadder is that Black people have adopted cultural norms and will blindly support everything and everyone else;s culture as if they are under some type of spell. In retrospect, we as a group have to take into account all of the horrors that have been heaped upon us for so many centuries. I will quote Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary’s, phrase “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”. We are collectively and individually suffering from this syndrome whether we acknowledge this reality or not. And it is deep and on a cellular level. As an eclectic artist, I refuse to be defined or exploited in this society and it does not matter to me, that others won’t do their part, I’ll just make sure that I do my part to awaken and inform whom ever I can where ever I can via thought provoking visual,written & spoken artwork. A lot of healing work needs to occur in the African American, before we are able to really get a clearer picture of not just who we are, but what we are capable of doing collectively in this earth. And that brothers and sisters is the stuff that we are made of. May we Rise Again and take our rightful place in the world.~Peace & Blessings. -Artist Leo

    • R. Leo Brown
      | Reply

      Please pardon any typographical errors in my previous response.

      • RONALD BUNN
        | Reply

        We should hope that typos are our biggest problem. Thank you for your willingness to help us further the discussion. Somehow we must get those who just stare into night to move their feet. It’s time for all of the African-American folk on FB and internet websites to start talking about how we can heal ourselves. Yes, I agree there is “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” There should be serious talk about solutions. African-Americans hold the highest offices in the United States–President and Attorney, but we are still suffering in all areas—socially, economically, police brutality, housing, and the list goes on. If we don’t hold on our media, the game is over.

  2. MARJORIE JOHNSON
    | Reply

    All I can say is you are not alone. Due to the hour I can’t elaborate at this time and will take time to process it all but I don’t think you are an Angry Black Man, YOU are a caring, thoughtful and concerned Black Man.

    • RONALD BUNN
      | Reply

      Thank you Marjorie for the recognition — I needed that.

  3. Sandhi
    | Reply

    Ron,
    You are certainly not alone in your position and disappointments with the sad state of African Americans in 2016. It pains me to see the pathetic condition of our people today. I live in NYC, so I see it and feel it every single day—the total regression of African American culture, power, economics, and politics. But way too many African Americans have contributed to this state. Too many have become selfish, self-centered, and complacent. During my parents’ and grand-parents’ generations, there were fewer opportunities, but there was a sense of “community, unity, protectionism, and sameness”. And I daresay, I grew up in an environment where hearing “Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m Proud”! was more a way of life than a slogan.

  4. Perri Gaffney
    | Reply

    Gentrification is the end of black communities throughout America: Harlem in NYC, Hough and Glenville in Cleveland, North Philly, Southside Chicago, and the list goes on and on. Many hardworking, sacrificing African Americans who survived and thrived in the 1960s-70s and gained a modicum of material stability, dressed, fed and pampered their children because that’s why they worked so hard and sacrificed so much. That new generation took their privileges for granted and often missed the advantage of hard work and skimping. They assimilate and sell their inherited “ghetto” properties for suburban homes. Communities are reassessed and taxes are raised through the roof. The new owners don’t complain because they can afford it. The older generation who try to hold on are stressed, especially if their children have moved on and can’t or won’t help out, so the families sellout or lose their properties for not paying their taxes or a number of other penalties. We have got to stop assimilating. We need to embrace our culture and celebrate our contributions. ROUTES is an invaluable tool to educate, inspire, open eyes, and uplift our mighty race!

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