Thursday, February 03, 2011

NIHILISM- A Silent Killer In Our Community

Note: In honor of Black History Month I wanted to spend time looking at some of the issues in our community that have been affecting us and bring them to light in an effort to acknowledge the problem and generate some discussion that can lead to change. I reached out to a man that I hold in high regard, Trimaine Davis, to help me with this.

There has been a silent killer in our community for the past 30 years now. This disease has claimed more lives of our young Black men & women  then any other pandemic of plagues among Black men & women. Like other diseases, this illnesses main attack method is caused by an infection that is carried from one person to the next, multiplying at a rapid rate that can be compared to the speed of light.

Although this disease is shares the same acronym as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) this HIV/AIDS virus has nothing to do with the immune system of the body. This HIV/AIDS virus attacks a part of the body that is much more critical to the human body. This disease surpasses the immune system and the heart and heads straight to main source of human existence, The MIND. Some know this disease as the Hood Influence Virus / or the Addition to Incarceration & Death Syndrome, but the name of this disease is more commonly known as is Nihilism.

 Nihilism is defined as the general rejection of established social conventions and beliefs, especially of morality and religion. The rejection of social norms and beliefs results in a mental and moral state of complete anarchy then turns life morals pointless and human values worthless! To understand to power of Nihilism, you have to understand the environment in which Nihilism is manifested in, the hood. The real hood! Not Hollywood hood, the everyday harsh and cure living conditions of the slums of the inner city where every aspect of the environment is defined by violence. This is the hood where neither liberals nor conservatives dare to tread in the murky waters of despair that now flood the streets of the under belly of Black America.

These are the neighborhoods that gave birth to Brenda and her baby, where there is broken glass everywhere and people pissing on the sidewalk cause they just don’t care. This is the place Biggie Smalls talked about when he said “either you slangin’ crack  rock or you got a wicked jump shot”  This is the hood that made the late great Marvin Gaye want to holler. This is the harsh reality where worry meets stress, and then turns into trouble. 
'No Snitching' has become a code, especially in the black community as it deals w/criminal activity
What makes Nihilism such a grand sickness in the Black community is the assault Nihilism unleashes on the value of self worth. Our brothers and sister who are infected with Nihilism are coping through life with self hatred, self doubt, self violation and self destruction. The long term effects of white supremacy that still holds a strong grip inside of African Americans, lead us to demean ourselves and devalue ourselves. In this society, everything that is associated with the term Black has a negative notion. The sub-consciousness of the Black community in the inner city takes a ‘less than’ approach when identifying self. We have been made to believe we are less beautiful, less moral, less intelligent, LESS PERIOD!

It pains my heart to see the national dropout rate for our young Black men at 56.2 percent. Black men are nearly 7 times more likely to be incarcerated, with average jail sentences about 10 months longer than those of white men. Black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of white males their age. Black male achievement begins to decline as early as the fourth grade and by high school. In 2009, only 43.8 percent graduated from high school, compared to 70.8 percent for their white counterparts. What kills me about all these stats is that no-one cares! The days of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ seems to be long gone. The left over effects of oppression has now turned into a life experience of coping with horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lovelessness.

A crip gang in Los Angeles

Lets go back, (WAAAAY BACK) to the 1940’s and visit an experiment that was done by a Dr. by the name of Dr. Kenneth Clark. In Dr. Clark's test, Black children were given a black doll and a white doll, and then asked which one they thought was better. Overwhelmingly, the Black children chose the white doll. Dr. Clark concluded that "prejudice, discrimination and segregation" caused Black children to develop a sense of inferiority and self-hatred. The experiment also influenced the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which outlawed school segregation.  
In 2005 (65 years later)  young woman by the name of Kiri Davis (No relation) Made a film titled “ A Girl Like Me”  In her film,  Ms. Kiri Davis recreates a famous 1940s experiment conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark that studied the psychological effects of segregation on black children. Davis asked 4- and 5-year-old Black kids at a Harlem school the same question. She found the Black children's answers were not that different. In Davis' test, 15 of the 21 Black children said that the white doll was good and pretty, and that the black doll bad and ugly one.
Ms. Davis, who was 16 years old when she made the film, said the results of her experiment surprised and frustrated her.  "So many things have changed, yet so many things haven't," she said on "Good Morning America."  "Our Black children as young as 5 and 4 still being able to tell what America values and what it doesn't, I can’t believe this still happens." Said Ms. Davis. In this film, Davis asks a little Black girl, "Can you show me the doll that looks bad?"  The Black girl immediately chooses the black doll. "Why does that doll look bad?" Davis asks.  "Because it's black!" the Black girl responds.
You do not need a Ph.D to understand how Nihilism is such a powerful illness. Nihilism is so powerful because it attacks the core sense of belonging and kills the true essence of identity. Nihilism destroys the function that education is designed to provide. The first function of education is to provide a sense of identity and a true sense of belonging.  Since Africans have been in this country, we have been in a civil right war for the basic human rights to pursue education. REAL EDUCATION! The core fact being we have been denied far too long.  Without true education of self, no one born into the world can become fully human. The history of the economic condition of African American families has African Americans at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. This is due to exploitation, discrimination, and racism. The socioeconomic issue is a key factor in the outcome of lack of education for the Black Community.

Lil Boosie, a rapper, showing off his gun

The other part is our role we play! We must take responsibility in the role we play in spreading Nihilism through our community. Think about the type of person that is idolized in the Black Community. Who are the leaders we inspire our young people to be like? What are the images of the Black life we hold dear to us and try to imitate in our everyday life. How many young brothers know who Charles Woodson is but don’t who Dr. Carter G Woodson is? I believe full heartedly each generation has the responsibility of maintaining the level of consciousness attained be previous generations and of advancing the community to even higher level of the development of their own consciousness. What I mean by this statement is we have the responsibility to uplift and up-hold the next generation. Somewhere along the way a generation has slipped and stumbled on their responsibility, and my generation has completely fallen down! I believe our young people today have been lead a stray. I believe the condition in which our young people are living in can only produce more of the massacre of underlining self worth. As easy as it is to point to the main stream media, institutionalize racism that runs fluent in our country, I prefer to call out the real perpetrator, US!  Like Tupac once said, “Proud to be Black then why we act like we don’t love ourselves / don’t look around homie check yourself!”
Don’t get wrong, I know we as a community have many examples of overcoming all short comings that have been place in our path. We have come from Kunta Kinte to our 44th President Barack Obama. However, like Dr. Carter Woodson said in his Book titled “The Mis-Education of The Negro” “History has shown us it does not matter who is in power, those who have not learned how to do think for them-selves and have to depend solely on others, will never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.”
My generation of 80’s Babies  must inspire our young people to think against the grain. We have to educate our youth how to think for themselves and not go in the same negative direction as their peer group. We must encourage our young people to have a habitual vision of greatness. This is our task, as educators and as elders! We must make sure our young people do not settle for just plain old mediocrity, instead we have to install in our young people how to reach for the stars. We have to change the motto from “Get Rich or Die Trying” to “Be More & Live Life Striving”   We must educate our youth on the difference between material value vs. understanding self worth.
We must create a new renaissance among the Black community. This renaissance must focus on these three things; Self- Love, Self-Respect, & Self-Education! If we continue to let  THEM teach US about ourselves, will we continue to perish! We have stand up by standing together and engulf ourselves in the spirit of the second principle of Kwanzaa Kujichaguila to cure this plague of Nihilism in our community.  The one thing that is for sure, if we don’t come together for this renaissance, we will continue to sing the sad, sad song of how our young people lived so fast and die so young.

Contact Trimaine Davis: