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Gibran

EXCERPT: THE UNMAKING OF THE BLACK MAN

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While black folks can usually place the sundry misdeeds of white America within a particular era of our history such as (1) The Slave Era, (2) The Jim Crow Era, (3) The Civil Rights Era, and (4) The Black Power Era, we missed what was happening during The Corporate Negro Era. Like damsels-in-distress, we were so caught up in the esteemed behavior of the white hero as he vowed to use his money to help us out of our sticky situation that we never understood that these new niggas were the surrogate-heroes who were to take over the role black preachers had always held in the black community.

This manipulation. while it did involve the social metamorphosis of a select group of black males, it was unlike most conversions since the new brothas were physically separated from the group they were supposed to control. However, the inevitable gimmick was that the miraculous transformation of these surrogate-gatekeepers would be so awe-inspiring that everyone would aspire to it.

One idea that was hardly new was the destruction of self-love which was the intended consequence of a wholly Euro—centric education. These brothas, lacking the love of self, or the ability to sympathize with the plight of their people, would, at the price of making them more pompous, help to destabilize the ghetto.

These establishment brothas, domesticated by their own self-interests, and further as a matter of principle, trumpeted America’s benevolence, elaborating in their persons just how great the country was. These brothas were, in effect, an extension of white America.

                                              

In the 1970s, the goal of making black America more productive was curtailed by cost, and given the wide range of other government expenditures, it became a much better idea to make them dependent, and to further this goal, welfare dollars began to rival the cost of public schooling.

 

What was hoped for was that dependence would begat submissiveness because hardly ever does one bite the hand that feeds it. At least that was what was hoped for, and given the ever-present hostilities between the government and black America, welfare was conceived of as a facilitating mechanism, and swept along by its own rhetoric that “one could trap more bees with honey than with shit”, white America attempted to unite black America through benevolent paternalism. And these suit-and-tie brothas were to become the legitimate purveyors of “what Mr. Charlie can do for you if you are good”. The Santa Claus Syndrome.

In this context, the government was Santa and these suit-and-tie brothas were his little, black elves. Occasionally, the suit-and-ties would appear to be autocratic, but mainly their task was to present a ‘visual’ for their bossman, a sort of real-life, eye-popping aesthetic experience that would ooh and ahh black adults in the same way that a Christmas display at the mall would mesmerize small children, and using an assortment of visual toys----their car, their women, their money---these elves produced a very pleasing picture.

In practice, though, the Santa Claus Syndrome was more than just a bright idea by the government, or a way for the elves to make a name for themselves because Uncle Sam knew precisely what he wanted and would accept nothing less. These ‘look-at-me’ brothas, evolved organically from a western-style education, were developed to adjust the psychological and emotional life of the ghetto by invigorating them with the fantasy of middle-class niggerdom. Uncle Sam wanted to manufacture a never-never land, a black fairytale existence where they could reside if they played by the rules. However, the ulterior motive was to forestall black folks’ sense of impending doom by instilling them with false hope.

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The CWA was founded by Executive Order where the President transferred 400 million dollars into a government program to provide jobs for individuals out of work due to the depression. People all over the country applied to join the CWA, and the program was so successful that another 950 million dollars was allocated for it.

In theory, the CWA was simply a measure to instill pride in people who refused government assistance, and though there were examples of men sweeping streets that didn’t need to be swept, half a million miles of highways were constructed. Thousands of bridges were built; school, churches, and hospitals sprung up and almost 600 airports were built, not to mention the many municipal parks and other recreational facilities that emerged all across the nation. The entire face of America was given a facelift by the CWA. America was truly a pretty bitch now.

Additionally, they were jobs set aside for teachers, and 10% of CWA’s budget was earmarked for white-collar workers. Even artist were supported via The Public Works of Art Program, and historians were paid to go on digs with archaeologists. Thanks, in part, to Eleanor Roosevelt, there were programs for women who drew salaries for sewing and other home economic projects.

Guess what? The hood didn’t get shit! And in typical fashion when hood rats in Jackson, Mississsippi petitioned for CWA money to put brothas to work fixing up the ‘hood, the Mayor said that he “would not give them a damned thing.”  And so it was all over America. Everyone benefited from the CWA-----except black people.

In total, the CWA, during 1933, with its 1 billion dollar expenditures could have spruced up the ‘hood, and helped to eliminate the blight and desperation, but since white America decided that black America had no pride, there was no need to include them in the good works of the CWA. Instead, it was determined that welfare was a better experiment for us.

White America wanted our dependency.

In most respects, this was the ultimate disrespect. White America forced us to watch them feast and wouldn’t even throw us a bone, but that was not the first or last time. Some thirty years later after John F. Kennedy was ushered into The White House, money was set aside by the government to revitalize the inner cities. Schools and hospitals were to be built, roads were to be paved. Finally, the hood was going to be cute, and there would, at last, be a chicken in every pot.

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