Monday, March 16, 2015

Stopping The ESP Curse (A Message to the AA Community)

Before this blog begins, let me define ESP as it relates to this blog: it stands for the Economic, Spiritual & Physical Curse. Lets think about that for a minute:
Economic Curse – every time a tragedy hits our community, we turn on ourselves (this will be the focus of this blog)
Spiritual Curse – in the African-American church, we have a huge tendency to put our pastor, church, and denomination over the Bible
Physical Curse – no disrespect to those outside our race, we focus more on that than we do on the nonsense killings within our own race. I cant help but think back to when I was about to turn 15 years old (the year was 1989). One HS student (that I knew) strangled another student (that I also knew) for his Jordans. 

I invited my sister & fellow author Angelia Menchan to assist me with this blogpost. Her comments are going to be in italics. What we are going to show is a generational trend when it comes to turning on ourselves via destroying our communities and why it's vital to stop this generational curse (or should I say genocide) economically, spiritually and physically.

Back in 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by the police and after the jury issued a not guilty verdict on the police officers, Los Angeles was destroyed via the riots. I was a senior year in High School when this went down, and I understood the anger then and it made sense to me at the time. Now that Im much older and realized after what happened with the Ferguson incident last year, I started to ask this a couple of pivotal question to myself:
1.     Why is it that other races kill someone within our race, and then we turn on each other and destroy our communities?
2.     Why is it that we advocate so heavily to support our own businesses, but then we turn around and don’t support our own business – wanting something for nothing (or even worse, loot our own business)?

In 1992, the final season of A Different World aired. I remember the second part of the first episode and I want to draw out some quotes that I want to share with you all. Heres the link:

At 11:23
Lena (played by Jada Pinkett): I cannot believe you Dwayne. Seriously though, I I was there, if that were me, I wouldve gone off!
Dwayne (played by Kadeem Hardison): Lena, seriously though, seriously though, we have a billion dollars of damage because brothers were ripping off their own neighborhoods. Think for a minute.

And then at 17:15:
Mr. Gaines (played by the late Lou Myers): You know its a shame that the rebellion had to go this far. But at least folks are now listening, white and black.
Colonel Taylor (played by Glynn Turman): Thats what we thought after Watts. Remember Mr. Gaines?
Mr. Gaines: Yeah.
Colonel Taylor: Well see what effect this has. A lot depends on what we do when we leave this room. Weve got to work together, so that your children wont feel that in the next 20 years their only solution is to burn their own communities down.

I guess history repeats itself because we went through this in Ferguson in 2014. But this “burning our communities” apparently isn’t new.  Since Watts was brought up via the video clip, let’s talk about it.

Watts a neighborhood in Los Angeles is on 2.12 miles but it's predominately African American and has the largest demographic of household led by single parents in the country, likely the world.

From August 11-17 1965 Watts was on fire. I was in elementary school and I remember my mom and aunts talking about it and saying, "Those Negroes have gone plumb mad." Perhaps that sounds like blaming the victim in 21st century America but not to those women born from 1912-1933. There were thirty-four deaths, over a thousand injuries, three times as many arrests and forty million in damages. And what was proven?

To the world at large it seemed to say, "Make them mad and they will ruin their own neighborhoods and loot their communities."

Righteous anger many said. However, I'm going to say Watts has never completely recovered from that legacy and is still an impoverished community with generations still struggling from some of the choices made.

Were the residents justifiably angry? Absolutely. Racism was rife and LAPD corruption in full forced. However, some fifty years later the community is still fighting against the same thing.

On the evening of Wednesday, August 11, 1965, 21-year-old Marquette Frye, an African American man behind the wheel of his mother's 1955 Buick, was pulled over for reckless driving by white California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Lee Minikus. After administering a field sobriety test, Minikus placed Frye under arrest and radioed for his vehicle to be impounded.
Marquette's brother Ronald, a passenger in the vehicle, walked to their house nearby, bringing their mother, Rena Price, back with him.

When Rena Price reached the intersection of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street that evening, she scolded Frye about drinking and driving, he recalled in a 1985 interview with the Orlando Sentinel. The situation quickly escalated: Someone shoved Price, Frye was struck, Price jumped an officer, and another officer pulled out a shotgun. Backup police officers attempted to arrest Frye by using physical force to subdue him. After rumors spread that the police had roughed Frye up and kicked a pregnant woman, angry mobs formed. As the situation intensified, growing crowds of local residents watching the exchange began yelling and throwing objects at the police officers. Frye's mother and brother fought with the officers and they were eventually arrested along with Marquette Frye.

After the arrests of Price and the Frye brothers, the crowd continued to grow. Police came to the scene to break up the crowd several times that night but were attacked by rocks and concrete. A 119-square-kilometer (46-square-mile) swath of Los Angeles would be transformed into a combat zone during the ensuing six days.

For seven days rioting and looting ensued and the National Guard was called in adding to the tensions. Members of militant groups were on site adding fuel to a flaming city. And just as today in cities like Ferguson, MO and other places the community was vilified and Los Angeles police chief Parker publicly described the people he saw involved in the riots as acting like "monkeys in the zoo."

Of course after all was said and done politicians and that ilk showed up making promises of reform if only they were voted in.

As this area was known to be under much racial and social tension, debates have surfaced over what really happened in Watts. Reactions and reasoning about the Watts incident greatly vary because those affected by and participating in the chaos that followed the original arrest had varying perspectives. A commission under Governor Pat Brown investigated the riots. The McCone Commission, headed by former CIA director John A. McCone, released a 101-page report on December 2, 1965 entitled Violence in the City—An End or a Beginning?: A Report by the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, 1965.

The report identified the root causes of the riots to be high unemployment, poor schools, and other inferior living conditions for African Americans in Watts. Recommendations for addressing these problems included "emergency literacy and preschool programs, improved police-community ties, increased low-income housing, more job-training projects, upgraded health-care services, more efficient public transportation, and many more." Most of these recommendations were not acted upon and decades later the struggle continued played out again in the 1992 riots after the Rodney King verdict. By this time I was a woman with children and could hear my ancestors voices as I watched the riots, wondering what had we learned if anything and we were still dealing with systemic injustice, racism and disenfranchisement with our emotions and reaction and I knew without any doubt how it would all play out, again. Our communities are plagued by generational curses and those of us who survived have a responsibility to assist in the healing.

We are going to have to teach wholeness, acceptance of responsibility, planning and preparing and not reacting.


OK, lets wind this down.

Johnathan Gentry (a minister at West Angeles COGIC) made a few comments last Friday (March 6th, 2015) on a news broadcast that I felt was appropriate for this blog. Im going to paraphrase a lot of what he said.
1.     Many of these African-American leaders are promoting poverty mindsets and victimhood. They’re also telling our race that we’re going to be nothing except a statistic
2.     The reason why they’re brining that message is because many of us can’t think for ourselves.
3.     These leaders want us to be oppressed. But black men need to stop looking back to victimhood.
4.     The truth of Jesus Christ is needed for broken families. God is a God of new beginnings.
5.     The prison system is not for anyone, and don’t stand in front of police departments telling them to clean up our neighborhoods when it’s the crack and whorehouse on our blocks that are destroying our minds and poisoning our children’s future.
6.     These leaders will be accountable for the messages they’re sending the American people. So tell people the truth, even if you shake!
7.     Countries and families are giving up and many broken families are going to church only to hear preachers lying to them.
8.     Not every police department is racist, and not everybody is against African-Africans, but we as a race have to be responsible for what we do out in the streets. If you commit a crime, expect to pay the cost!
9.     It’s always those who commit crimes, who cry out and say the Police Department is wrong, that should not be happening!

I posted this on social media on March 10th, 2015:
1.     To be an effective leader, you can’t play the victim or live your life like a victim.
2.     To be an effective leader, you must tell the truth. There are many in positions of authority that dish lies because there are guppies listening with itching ears or they're listening to find a reason to remain a victim.

We have to know who we are for ourselves in order to show who we are to others. Not everybody will appreciate us, but at least we have an identity thats built on faith, achievement and endurance.  Think about it, Christ was with the Father before His public ministry. So one can only believe that Christ knew who He was before He was known to the world.