By Barney Blakeney
I’m technologically challenged. I don’t do technology very well (mostly by choice). So I tell folks, if you want me to see something immediately, don’t put it on Facebook, call or email me. Those two technical venues I can handle.
So I’m on Facebook the other day when I see a message someone sent me a year ago. It was quite critical. I’m used to criticism. Not everyone will agree with you. Since none of us are perfect, criticism should be expected. Constructive criticism is a good thing. It helps us to become better. I welcome it. But ignorant, vengeful, unwarranted criticism that’s spouted out of dislike or disagreement I won’t accept. It doesn’t serve any useful purpose.
I crossed swords with this critic, and others, about a year ago over a story I wrote. An individual in authority had emailed me some concerns about the lack of progress being made within the organization he represented. I thought the guy had a valid point. It is undisputed that the organization’s entity is underperforming. But the entity is predominantly Black and the individual in authority is white. All hell broke loose!
Mind you now, all I did was write the story. In all honesty, I left out one piece of info that may have clarified a statement – but hell, I already told you I’m not perfect. Although it didn’t change the overall premise of the story, that one piece of info made a difference in how some people received the rest of the information.
So my critic and cohorts went ape*hit over the fact that this white guy challenged the dynamics taking place at this predominantly Black entity. How dare a white guy challenge our Black sacred cow? And how dare I allow him to make the challenge in a Black newspaper. Never mind that the white guy came with facts and statistics, the argument became territorial.
Two things irked me about those critics – 1) they had not moved beyond personal sentiment to deal with the issue objectively and 2) they were willing to deny an individual the right to voice an opinion that had obvious merit. Black folks have fought for generations to obtain basic human rights and equal status. I get impatient with Black folks who willingly deny those same rights to others. I’ve lived long enough to remember when Black folks couldn’t voice their opinions in mainstream white media – valid or not! I’ll be damned if I’ll do that to others.
When I saw my critic’s Facebook post I got ticked off because in the year that has passed, nothing’s changed at the entity in question. I was reminded that the challenges the white guy presented have gone unmet and my critic and cohorts continue to bask in their self-induced delusion of accomplishment. A year later the same dynamics that persisted at that entity then is perpetuated now. The situation hasn’t changed!
What galls me about that situation is a lot of intelligent, experienced and energetic people are engaged in various activities at that entity. They’re there to improve the situation, yet very little has changed. In fact we’re very near losing the thing! Three generations have passed with only minimal achievement to show. In that time some have made a lot of money duping its constituents.
I’m reminded of Stevie Wonder’s song “You Haven’t Done Nothing”. Part of the lyrics go – “We are amazed but not amused by all the things you say that you’ll do; Though much concerned but not involved with decisions that are made by you; But we are sick and tired of hearing your song, telling how you are gonna change right from wrong; ‘Cause if you really want to hear our view, you haven’t done nothin'”.
It’s amazing how successive groups of intelligent, experienced, energetic people over the course of 30 years haven’t done nothin’. I can only surmise there must not be any intention to change the dynamics. Can you say, “Follow the money”? And when you get people involved who want to do right, but don’t know how, the problem is exacerbated and the profits are increased. James Brown said it – talkin’ loud and sayin’ nothin’.
Sadly we have lowered the bar to the point where we applaud mediocrity. We accept leadership from people who don’t even know where they are going! I matriculated through Mary Ford and Columbus Street elementary schools and C.A. Brown High School. At none of those did they teach me a 30 percent success rate was acceptable. Yet my critics were telling me 30 percent success at that entity was okay. It may be okay for the 30 percent that succeeded, but what about the 70 percent that failed? Are they to be discounted?
So here we are a year later and more challenged than ever. I wish I hadn’t seen that Facebook post. It just reminded me how stagnated in ignorance we’ve remained. I know that there are some folks who sincerely want to change that. I admire and applaud them. They remain in the fight despite the odds and disappointments. As for others like my critic and his cohorts I’ll share something a friend said yesterday – you’ll never fix a problem you don’t face. Face the problem. You won’t fix it on Facebook.