Bad things do happen to good people. This is perhaps one of the oldest clichÃ©s in the book, yet it’s true. However, the question that always seems to be before us is, why do these terrible things keep disproportionately happening to Black folk?
Over time, there have been many attempts to explain this phenomenon. Slaves owners used the “Curse of Ham” story as a Biblical explanation. Scientific racists have used the myth of genetic racial inferiority. Even the entertainment industry, via Hip Hop, has promoted the idea that we are just “Naughty by Nature” or “N–gas With Attitude.”
All the above reasons are, of course, patently false. But we are still left with the ever evasive question of why we are most prosecuted by Murphy’s Law?
The uncomfortable answer is that it was, for the most part, systematically designed that way.
If you read Walter Rodney’s outstanding work “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” he gives a breakdown of the origin of our miseries leading up to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. While some of it may be attributed, as in all cultures, to natural disasters and just plain bad luck, it was still the mass enslavement of our ancestors that led us to where we are today.
Also, we cannot minimize the effects of chattel slavery followed by Jim Crow laws, Black Codes, racial violence, etc., as long-term effects are rarely considered when folks try to diagnose the sickness plaguing the Black community.
During the Civil Rights Era, even initiatives that were supposed to work in our favor–like the “noneconomic liberalism” of the NAACP’s Joel Spingarn, read “Plural but Equal” by Harold Cruse–did nothing but substitute the solution of economic self-determination for the integration of lunch counters and toilets. This has led to us being chronic beggars instead of producers.
We must not leave out COINTELPRO, the domestic spying, infiltration and disruptive counterintelligence operation of the FBI which destroyed many Black leaders and organizations during the Black Power Era, thus creating a void filled by street gangs. Although the gangs were originally formed to protect the Black community, with the magical appearance of heavy artillery and crack cocaine in the hood, allegedly courtesy of Uncle Sam and the CIA according to the late journalist Gary Webb, the gangs began to turn their guns on each other.
So that’s why in 2020 many of our people are stuck in “The Trap.” In the vernacular of Dirty South Hip Hop, “tha trap” is a place where drugs are sold and all kinds of demonic debauchery takes place 24/7.
But in reality, the TRAP should really stand for “Terroristic Repression And Persecution.” And our entrapment takes many forms, from the seemingly self-inflected genocide going on in many communities to environmental racism and benign neglect. A good example is Durham, N.C.’s largest public housing development, McDougald Terrace, which is not only experiencing a disproportionate amount of violence, but community activists fear recent deaths of at least two infants may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning and poor living conditions.
But what do we do about it?
First, we have to help these young brothers and sisters in the streets realize that what they accept as reality is really economic ethnic cleansing, a calculated scheme to remove them to make room for high priced apartment buildings and Starbucks.
For those who don’t believe this can happen, read Elliot Jaspin’s book “Buried in the Bitter Waters” where he documents there are communities in America where all the Black folk just disappeared. If they did it once, they’ll do it again.
Secondly, we must deal harshly with an entertainment industry that has had our young people dancing their way to destruction for over three decades. We must not continue to allow rich White executives to keep the minds of our children trapped in a maze of mischief.
Lastly, we cannot be so distracted by band aid solutions we use to triage our problems, like Black on Black violence, that we lose sight of the need for political organization and economic empowerment as the end game strategy. In every community we must constantly compel the gangstas to unite to fight the power instead of fighting each other. We must also build a financial infrastructure that will allow Black men and women to feed their families legally instead of having to rely on criminal activities which destroy our communities.
So, in 2020, we must organize a mass Exodus out of the Trap led by brothers and sisters, who like Pac said would “rather die than be trapped in a living hell.”