What’s There to Celebrate? Black Independence or Intolerance

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

As another Independence Day has come and gone, just how independent are you? Do you own a business or a home? Can you afford to take a vacation across country or to another country? From slavery to freedom, black ancestors believed things would get better one day and God would deliver them out of bondage.

Fast forward to today, Black folk are still in bondage.  I can’t think of any other people who have had to endure so much for so long.  While things got better for some, things got worse for others. However, at some point, we must let go of the past and deal with the present.  We cannot allow the past to consume us.  Even in bondage, there was camaraderie. How dare we turn on each other after all we have been through?

I am really caught in between “Independence Day” and “Intolerance”.  Crime is running rampart throughout our communities.  Will someone please tell me what’s going on in North Charleston? North Charleston is rapidly becoming notorious for crime and criminals.   Criminal activities are not just a North Charleston problem, it’s a national problem.  A few days ago, two tourists attending an assembly meeting in New Orleans were attacked violently and robbed.  One is in the hospital in critical condition.  Four young blacks between the ages of 18 and 21 were arrested in the incident. Are we safe anywhere, in our homes, on vacation or in our churches?

Within the last week in Charleston, a 56 year-old-man was killed by a police officer after robbing a Scotsman on Rivers Avenue and a 22 year-old-man was found dead on Surrey Drive after leaving a party.  A 55 year-old-man killed his girlfriend in North Charleston. A 29 year-old-man killed a 33 year-old-woman during an argument. These are just a few of the recent murders in North Charleston involving black on black murders.  Although there have been a few White crimes, most of the murders are perpetrated by black males between the ages of 18-55.

In my opinion, I know no one asked me but …the escalation of crimes in North Charleston can be attributed to an influx or a shift in the black and Hispanic populations, easy access to drugs and guns and a bias educational system. I am a strong proponent of an excellent education for all students.  If you were to look at the City of Charleston when it was majority black and look at it now as it rapidly becomes majority white, the City also had its fair share of crimes.  Many City of Charleston residents were forced out due to gentrification and a lot of the bad apples migrated to North Charleston. Crimes can be reduced overnight significantly if drugs and guns disappear from black communities and education becomes a top priority.

Are we ready to throw in the towel or are we willing to deal with the problem?  We may not be able to fix everything but we can fix some things.  So, what can we fix?  First, we need to fix generational disparities.  Retribution has never been made to Blacks for kidnapping them from their homeland and transporting them to America for slave labor. Forty acres and a mule was hardly fair compensation to the slaves for kidnapping and forced labor but even that act was repealed.  The Indians were compensated for lands stolen by whites but slaves were never compensated for their stolen labor. And, that is just the beginning. The Indians built casinos and hotels.  Blacks are and have always been economically deficient.  They have had to scuffle to build small businesses and many of them did not survive due to a lack of support.  Blacks support white, red and yellow businesses but very few support black owned businesses. Whites have had access to an excellent education early on while Blacks were killed if it were found out that they knew how to read and write. I don’t have to tell the story because those who lived the story know the story.  So, I asked again “what are you going to do about it?”

Black folk, we have some catching up to do and we will never catch up by killing off each other.  We have got to take the blinders off for once and stop faking it if we are going to make it.  Yes, we were used and abused but we can no longer use that as an excuse or license to kill.   Yes, they raped our women and children and sold them off to the highest bidders but we survived.  Yes, on our journey to America, they threw not only the dead but the sick overboard when you were no longer useful. And, sure it hurts to be passed over for jobs, auto or mortgage loans but killing makes it more difficult for persons coming behind you. You see, folks visualize and put folks into the same box.  You are judged not only by your skin but by your appearance, speech and mannerism. If I were to apply for a job in my “Sunday go to meeting outfit” and you applied for the same position with your pants sagging, all the interviewer sees is the color of our skin and think all black folk are alike.  They can’t see beyond skin color because we all “look the same”.  I finally found out what they meant when they said, “we look the same”.

Black folk, there is no time like the present to change. Start with your household!  Independence or intolerance, you be the judge!

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