Fragmentation Is Harming Black America. Right “Knowing” Will Fix It

Brooks Robinson, the director of BlackEconomics.org
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Photos: BlackEconomics.org

In the following piece, Brooks Robinson, the director of BlackEconomics.org discusses the fragmentation in Black America that is a source of our disunity and the role our fragmented "knowing" plays in this disunity and in the continuing of our collective problems.

We often emphasize that “knowledge” is the most important life resource. Of course, one should associate with knowledge the especially important “overstanding” (the ability to fully comprehend the knowledge that one possesses) and “wisdom” (the ability to use knowledge effectively and efficiently).

It turns out that once one knows, overstands, and is wise, then it is possible to materialize what one knows.

A problem for Black America is that we are knowledgeable in a variety of diffused ways.

Given that efforts are, and have been, underway to position Black Americans at the bottom of the nation’s socioeconomic hierarchy, we must “know” the why and how of it.

The “why” of it is simple. First, Black Americans are an easily identifiable out group, so we are easy to target. Secondly, one group must be at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy, so why not ensure that the group that started at the bottom remains at the bottom? Our weakness as an ununified group makes this all possible.

The “how” of it is more complex. What we know is that oppressors will use every trick in the book to oppress. However, an oppressor is most masterful, as the great Haki Madhubuti once opined (paraphrasing), “when oppressors can control the oppressed without lifting a gun or a finger. ” That is, oppressors oppress by controlling the hearts and minds of the oppressed.

In the case of Black Americans, because we reside physically in a system that is pervaded by media, we are subject to subtle and not so subtle messages and tactics that are intended to fragment our efforts to escape oppression. One of the most important tactics that the oppressor uses to extend oppression is to ensure that our “knowing” is fragmented.

Because our “knowing” is fragmented, our related goals are fragmented. Fragmented goals lead to fragmented outcomes/results.

Examples of our fragmented goals and outcomes/results are:

• Some Black Americans opt for Black- centered education (Afrocentric charter schools and HBCUs), while others seek education from the most highly rated American educational institutions (gifted and talented or IB high schools and PWIs).

• Some Black Americans favor intensifying racial integration, while others favor racial separation.

• Those Black Americans who espouse racial separation/segregation envision different outcomes: Some prefer separating in place (controlling urban areas), while others prefer consolidating our population in a separate territory.

• Some Black Americans believe in engaging in Black-centered economic activity (Black economics for us by us), while others believe in economic advancement at all costs using any means available in the American economic system.

• Some Black Americans issue demands for Reparation payments, while others seek to thwart efforts to obtain Reparations payments.

And the list goes on.

The key point is that the old tried and true “divide and conquer” scheme is at work in each case.

Clearly, Black American thinking is not monolithic. Nor should it be. However, there is one fact that we should “know,” and there are three actions that we should take.

What should we know?

We should know that a fragmented position (vision) on any topic will produce fragmented results. We may all be able to—with our “knowing”—realize or materialize what we know. However, by their very nature, our realizations will not be unified.

Which three actions should we take:

1. Black America should explore , research, and analyze our diffused thinking on the topics of difference that are outlined above —and more such topics.

2. Black America should use the results of the exploration, research, and analyses and decide (“know”) which position will produce the best possible outcomes in the long run because, in the end, it is all about the future.

3. Black America should commit to the decisions (“knowing”) identified in item 2 above, and then be willing to stake our lives on materializing the related outcomes.

We often ask: Why has Black America failed to make more progress? The easy answer is that we face opposition. What we should realize (“know”), however, is that a central tenet of that opposition is to keep Black America fragmented in our “knowing” on key issues or concerns.

Given the strategy for making future progress outlined herein, we call on Black America’s leadership to disregard philosophical, religious, and political differences, stovepipes, and turfs, and to create an NBPC (National Black Planning Council) . The NBPC can help guide Black America to a unified position on key issues/concerns of the day by developing a Long-Term Strategic Plan.

Barring the formation of an NBPC, we invite all Black Americans (wherever we come together) to adopt the strategy outlined herein to evolve a unified position on key issues/concerns of the day, and the n to use that “knowing” to materialize the best possible outcomes for Black America.

It all begins with “knowing.”


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