All or Nothing Mentality:
By Stephanie Mwandishi Gadlin
original article-August 23, 2006
I want to ask you all a sincere and honest question that isn’t
rhetorical or rigged with innuendo. And I’ll apologize for this
energy.but, Here goes: Why (overall) are our people SO complacent,
SO negative, SO non-energetic and ALWAYS willing to criticize, attack
and challenge any effort to make positive social change in one’s
community. Why can’t we collectively or block by block identify
issues, work on solving them, implement programs, be creative in our
approach, stay focused and dedicated to the tasks at hand.
I don’t believe this is a crab in the barrel syndrome it is something
much deeper and much more calculated. But what is it? Help me put a
finger on this.
I am convinced that many of our people would rather have ALL of
nothing than be a part of a LITTLE of something. Some would rather
have ALL of the pain and the problems rather than be involved in
easing some of the pain; solving SOME of the problems, day by day,
walk by walk. Its like the gang banger who is holding down a block
that he does not even own. His power is a false but brutal power.
I have experienced incidents where a certain well known “leader” is
criticized for not being in the `hood or not being accessible to
the `grassroots.’ They said he was flying all over the globe and
would never set foot in the `hood.’ Then when you say okay, how about
I solve that problem and bring the leader to the hood, bring the
leader with RESOURCES to the hood, the leader is attacked for doing
what..COMING TO THE HOOD!??? “What the hell are you doing out here,”
or “Go back to the so an so!” “You’re just running a bunch of B.S.”
or “You’re trying to pimp the people.”
On the flip side here in Chicago many of the resources for our
oppressed neighborhoods are restricted and held up by Negro “power
blockers.” They play this class game and this popularity game where
if an Upperclass Negro declares `you’re in” then you’re inbut if you
don’t come the “right way” (That means kiss a whole lot of bougie
Black behind) then you’re out and they will block everything you do.
They elevate and celebrate and reward themselves at their benefits,
luncheons and parties and talk about how they `overcame’ while in the
meantime they do NOTHING, nadda, not-a-thing, to assist and aide in
lifting the economic tensions and oppression of the majority of
people in the communitywhom they claim to represent. This group
likes to talk about how much consumer spending Black folk have; and
then they build their businesses off the selling of this information.
So grassroots, everyday people have no access to their own media;
their own (big) businesses; their own politicians; and the things
they really sacrificed to obtain. Is this what Dr. King died for?
What about El-Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X)? So when Marcus Garvey
was talking “do for self” is this what he really meant?
The Upperlcass Negroes where I live said nothing as the people in the
projects were run out of their homes. In fact the encouraged the
tearing down of these slums; yet, demanded not a plan for re-location
for the people. Since their homes are paid for, they said nothing
about gentrification of neighborhoods. They don’t care that the
biggest Black paper in town is a racist rag called the Sun-Times.
They are applauding the city’s only Black owned radio station cutting
a suspect deal with Clear Channel. Because they eat everyday, they
say nothing about the lack of grocery stores and clinics and health
resources for the poor. Since they don’t eat gyros and polishes, they
don’t care about closing their restaurants and allowing the Koreans
and Arabs to feed our people.
Okay, I know some of us suffer from `mentacide,’ and I am fully aware
that there are operatives, paid and rewarded, to keep confusion and
inactivity brewing in many of our urban communities. I understand
COINTELPRO, but why do we continue to fall victim to it. Poverty is
good business for a whole lot of people, right?
So I vent out of frustration. I know the answer is to struggle
forward. But I must pause and ask these questions. Is anyone feeling
me out there? Are there any answers? Is there no fight left?