by S.A. Prince
If you’re still talking about Colin Kaepernick then you’ve missed the point. What Kaepernick did was begin a conversation, or at least try to. Instead of having an actual dialogue pertaining to oppression in the United States, the detractors of Kaepernick’s stance are arguing against him personally.
Who cares if he is rich? Who cares if he grew up with a white family? Kaepernick is not the subject here, systemic oppression is. He’s highlighting the experience of the black race on a huge stage. The backlash that Kaepernick is experiencing is the proverbial “killing of the messenger.” If you can condemn the messenger, then you will kill the message.
Let’s step back from systemic oppression though, because as it appears, many non-blacks have no intention of discussing that. They attack with stats about black on black crime, stats that are very true. Black on black crime is a problem. The solution often given by non-blacks to the epidemic of black on black crime is figure it out yourselves, which leads to I’m not the one oppressing you so systemic oppression is a figment of your imagination.
My immediate response to this is as follows: Yes, you may not be driving into the black communities and levying oppressing, but you aren’t willing to do anything to help out either, right?
See, the issue is that we always talk about the end result, but never get to discussing causation. Do people think that the abject poverty and crime ridden neighborhoods in which many blacks live randomly occurred? It’s like one day roughly 50 or so years ago none of these existed, and now they do, but instead of trying to figure out why that is, let’s just point fingers.
I’m a student of Abraham Maslow, ascribing much of my thought process to his Hierarchy of Needs (Click to read and understand Maslow’s Hierarchy).
Humans have needs. When all their needs are met, humans can eventually achieve self-actualization. Here’s how Maslow speaks to self-actualization:
“What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization…It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”
In order to reach this self-actualization, a person must progress through the previous levels of need within the hierarchy. These needs are: Physiological, Security, Social, and Esteem. Of course, this does not apply to everyone as there are always outliers. I have seen plenty of people whose physiological needs are not met but have reached a point of self-actualization, Buddhist monks for an example. That being said, I 100% believe that Maslow’s Hierarchy applies to most people.
Now, look at the members of the black community, many of whom are living in poverty, their physiological needs not being met. Is there any surprise that self-actualization alludes us, us choosing instead to engage in self-deprecating behavior?
The solution is to build an infrastructure in which the community can be secure, an infrastructure that will provide those basic needs. I speak to this in my article “The Unpopular Opinion: Deadbeat Dads aren’t the Problem” over at SoutHolland.
In the past the black community has tried to build flourishing communities and often times they were destroyed by whites. Don’t believe me? Check out this documentary on Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street.
Of course, all this may be for naught. I leave you with an excerpt from a speech I am giving this week:
What we are experiencing now as a country, the erosion from the inside-out is because for so long we have stood back and allowed our government to act unchecked. We have allowed the government to use our money to oppress many people all over this planet. Is it truly any surprise that we cannot overcome the oppression from within? America’s history is a history that tells the story of a government that has gotten rich off the backs of free or cheap labor. Until we stand up against the atrocities that we commit against the world, we will never find peace at home. There’s honestly no point in continuing to address America’s systemic oppression as we wear shoes made for pennies on the dollar by people who eat scraps every night.