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What Black Men Think: Film is a wake-up call to the African-American community…

July 9, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) DALLAS, TEXAS – “More than 100 years ago, Harriet Tubman was quoted as saying that: ‘If I could have convinced more slaves that they really were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.’ As you sit there in awe and wonder, questioning your ancestor’s inability to be aware of the tragedy of their own circumstance, this I tell you and I tell you to be true, that 100 years from now, your descendents will look upon you with the same distain, questioning, how could you have let this happen? How could you have bought into the false castigation that keeps you from one another?” said Janks Morton, “You sit idly by and watch your media distort your images. You know that the government stratifies you. You know that the Black leadership exploits you. And you chose to do nothing. Or maybe, you don’t know. After today, there shall be no more excuses…because after today, you will know.

Of ten of you, five shall choose to do nothing,” he continued. “Three shall not understand or comprehend this message. One of you will be so enraged that you will protest in the streets. One of you will grasps and begin to do something to effect that change. My question moving forward is which one are you?”

Morton lives just blocks away from the nation’s capital. He says that it has given him the opportunity to see the best and worse of the Black community. And after years of observation, he felt passionate that it was time to send a wake-up call to all African- Americans. He took his one-man production team to the streets to interview Black leaders and community citizens.

It really is a testimony for where we are today. Five years ago this movie couldn’t happen with just one person,” said Morton. Though the quality of the film won’t reveal it, the project was completed in only nine months, a labor of love for his community.

Morton’s film, What Black Men Think, focuses on the way Blacks treat each other, how the African-American community thinks of itself, how it feeds off of the stereotypes and how it reacts to negativity. But most importantly, the film discusses the changes that are needed.

I want the restoration of Black relationships. What I want is for the reconnection to happen,” said Morton stating that Blacks have the highest divorce rates, highest over-40-years-old singles rates, the lowest marriage rates and the highest-out-of-wedlock birth rates. “As a matter of fact, in the last 40 years, Blacks have almost turned their back on one another.”

In a ‘man-on-the-street’ survey, several Black men and women were asked what they thought of each other.

The men said that Black women are selfish, shallow, gold diggers, with attitude problems and multiple babies, who think that their being disrespectful is sexy.

The women said that Black men are thuggish, disrespectful liars, ignorant players, who don’t work and don’t take care of their multiple babies.

Morton said that through the 1960s, there was a message that was put into the minds of African-Americans. The message was political, philosophical and spiritual ideology. It was incorporated into the community. But it was not congruent with what the community subscribed to before the ’60s.

We had high standards; we were more independent and not waiting for a hand out from the government. We believed in education,” said one woman on the film.

Blacks, according to the film, are the truest Americans. Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans kept their dignity and walked with pride. But they also had respect for each other.

The Black community as a whole had to have a higher standard in order to question the injustice of the government. But somewhere along the line, “things got tipped over.

“At the end of the Civil Rights era…82-87 percent of the Black households were two parent, married households. Forty percent of those households were business owners,” said Mychal Massie, Chairman of Project 21 and columnist with WorldNetDaily.

But what happened to get us off track?

You know before the Civil Rights movement, before the civil rights laws were passed on the books, 81 percent of American Black households had a mother and father,” said Armstrong Williams, host of Sam and Army Show on Air America Radio. “During the 60s, something changed,” He said the new ages taught Blacks, “If it feels good, just do it,” because each person was the judge of their own morality.

The film said that the Black community has allowed itself to define itself by social status, job, house, car, trophy wife, etc…after centuries of being oppressed. And those that don’t obtain that status are considered less than. What this does is give Black people permission to look down on one another in order to lift themselves up. And that only hides the underlying issues of self-doubt and low self-worth.

“If you beat a people down for 350 years and then all of a sudden say ‘things are a lot more okay than they use to be, you are free to compete,’ then of course, people are going to be scared. The identity does not allow you to get up and make the most of yourself as easy as you might think,” said Dr. John McWhorter, Columnist New York Sun/Senior Fellow Manhattan Institute and author of Losing the Race.

The film stated that during the Civil Rights era, the Black community had two powerful leaders – Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Both approached the community with a different style, but the message of equal justice was consistent.

Go back to the Malcolm X/Martin Luther King period, where there were yet two very distinct philosophical approaches to Civil Rights. One says, ‘We shall over come.’ And the other said, ‘By any means necessary,'” said Michael Steele, former Lt. Gov of Maryland and chairman of GOPAC.

While most Blacks believe in what King said and what he stood for, many believe that there was a lot of truth to what Malcolm X had to say, as well.

Some believe that Malcolm X opened Black’s eyes to what was really going on and he said what no one else was willing to say, such as the community’s need to separate from the rest of society. Taking it one step further, the film stated it’s not that we need to separate ourselves from the White community, but from the expectation and acceptance of a handout from the government. Others added that we use to solve our own problems and we need to go back to that.

Morton posed another question to the community, asking, ‘Are there more Black men in jail or in college?’

An overwhelming majority of African- Americans answered that there were more Black men in Jail than in college. When interviewing groups of teenagers and children, most of them either shrugged it off as a way of life or laughed at the answers given.

Morton said that the answer lies in understanding where the numbers came from. The research that has been conducted was done so with the purpose of making sure it comes out a certain way. But, that’s not actual research.

He first looked at the typical age range for both. The average Black male in college is 18 to 24 years old. The average Black man in jail is between 15 and 55 years old. “This is truly an apples to oranges questions. “But to be fair to all the people that we asked the question of, lets just look at the sheer numbers, regardless of age,” he said.

He added up the total of men in prison and those in jail. They totaled 801,995, as reported by the Bureau of Justice and Statistics in 2005. However, the Department of Education reported 846,000 men in college that same year. So, there are truly more Black men in college than those incarcerated.

Morton conducted several surveys and each time, the answers did not add up to the surprising statistics. The surveys and studies included topics such as the percentage of men ‘on the down low’ (in a committed relationship with a woman but secretly having sex with men), Blacks enrolled in college, Black men who marry white women and those who pay child support.

Additionally, Morton asked the question – based on a 2003 CDC study – “What is the number one killer of African Americans?” Some people said diabetes. And yes the numbers are high – 12,892 died from diabetes that year. But that puts it in fifth place. Others said it was high blood pressure and stroke. Yet, stroke is the fourth highest, killing 18,806 people. There were some that guessed cancer as the leading killer. And though 62,660 people lost the battle to cancer in 2003, it still wasn’t the number one killer. Cancer is the third highest killer. Those that guessed heart disease and heart attack were close. It comes in second place, taking the lives of 77,732 African Americans.

There were many that said homicide and Black on Black crime. Several said that AIDS must be the number one killer in the African American community. A few guessed that it might be drugs. But, though they are among the top 10, those answers were still incorrect.

Absolutely no one guessed what the center reported as the number one killer of African-Americans…a killer that took the precious lives of 363,024 Black babies…abortion.

But why should we care? Doesn’t that mean that thousands of children will not be born into broken homes? Doesn’t that mean that there will be less children living in poverty? Not necessarily. According to the film, what it does mean is ‘genocide.’

“I think the crazy thing is, if you’re gonna argue pro-choice and pro-lie, then you’ve been hoodwinked and bamboozled, just like Malcolm said. What you need to be concerned about is the fact that, if it’s not killing Black people, why is the CDC tracking this?” said a guest on the film.

Pastor Clenard H. Childress, author of No Shepard’s Cry and director of BlackGenocide.org, says that abortion is allowed to continue in order to control the growth of African Americans and cause the numbers to decrease.

When are you going to wake up?” asked Min. Louis Farrakhan. “I applaud this covenant,” he continued, holding up a copy of Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley, during the State of the Black Union 2004. “But it demonstrates our impotence, because in many of the chapters it keeps going back to -not only what we do, but really we start looking to the same liar that has continued to promise, but never fulfill. How long are you gonna hope in their promise rather than hope in yourself and God’s ability to help you help yourself? But to hope in the government in hopeless.”

Morton isn’t saying that there are no men that live up to these stereotypes. What he is saying is that Black America needs to do the research for itself. Otherwise, society is going to continue to sale the Black American image in the way that they chose and everyone will blindly agree.

“As I walk the streets, anywhere in this country; from Main Street to upper echelon – high end Beverly Hills, to inner-city Washington D.C., consistently there are misnomers, misrepresentations and falser perceptions about Black men that, whatever your social economic status is, we believe,” said Morton.

Taalam Acey, a top ranking national spoken word artist, performed Market 4 NI99AZ, during the video. The poem described the things that Black Americans buy into that perpetuate the stereotypes and continue to keep the Black race down.

The dramatic poem also spoke on the video’s proposal that Blacks are bought and sold by their dreams of fame and fortune. The video suggested that filmmakers and television offer illusion of success and happiness to rappers, actors and comedians, especially the countless number of male actors who have dressed up as women, perpetuating the stereotypes of Black women.

The video says that main stream media has been the catalyst for such stereotypes for several years and they have been driven deep into our psyche. But a stereotype cannot live on words alone. There is always some element of truth. The news helps to bring these incidents to public attention. And the viewers respond to the sensationalism.

Furthermore, it is through this coverage and media’s love/hate relationship with hip hop and gangster rap that the Black community has been told that it’s okay to get angry and respond with anger. People are being told that its only way “we’re going to overcome.” But it’s too easy to act on anger. And what’s more, “whoever causes you to become angry, can also control you,” The film wasn’t just talking about the media and society’s control, but Black leaders as well.

Morton’s video says that Black leaders exploit the Black community. He explained that racism and hatred exist everywhere on all levels “and if your job is to tackle racism, you will always be employed.” But in reality, the Black community is no longer bound by racism. It, as a whole, can accomplish what it set out to do. Yes, there is still prejudice and acts of racism, but the community doesn’t have to respond with violence and hatred.

Dr. King said, for example, that we shouldn’t hate our enemies, but love them. Overcome evil with good,” said one of Morton’s guest speakers.

But prejudice goes both ways. The video also discussed how the Black community, with the memories of the past and in its struggle to assimilate into society, has developed bitterness toward the white community. It’s not uncommon for people to refer to high achievers – such as straight-A students, families who move to an upscale community or individuals who climb the corporate ladder – as “White,” when they are simply striving to be their best.

“We have to reverse our thinking and the way we verbalize our thinking and our perception. The most dangerous man in the Black community, is the Black man himself. We need to spotlight the positive in the Black community,” according to another speaker, continuing that Black leaders need to stand up, and rather than lead protest bringing the negatives to the forefront, they too need to promote the positives.

So, that’s it.” Morton said in closing. “What Men Think – Part One. Why’d I do it? Because it had to be done. We have to get back to who we were, by knowing who we are. And maybe, we can reconnect with one another.”

Written By Robyn H. Jimenez

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