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The Truth Hurts: Black America’s 10 Biggest Lies…

August 22, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Black America, are we lying to ourselves? It seems as though there are quite a few areas where we are not totally being honest with one another.

A recent study proves that people lie to each other at least three times in a 10-minute period after just being introduced! The study also says that it’s difficult for even law enforcement personnel to know when someone is really lying.

With all of that in mind, what lies does black America believe most? We thought we’d do our own unofficial study to see what the record shows. What lies do we believe about ourselves or continue to perpetuate? Here’s our list of the top 10.

Lie #1: Soul food is good for you. Our mamas, grandmamas, dads and uncles definitely loved us. So much, in fact, that they cooked chitlins and pig feet and hosted lavish barbeques featuring plates overflowing with delicious food like macaroni and cheese, candied yams, pork chops and fried chicken. Let’s not forget about those desserts like red velvet cake and peach cobbler – and that oh-so-good lemonade and sweet tea. The problem is that the soul food diet, as good as it is, is filled with fatty meats, fried foods, sugar, salt and a high percentage of dietary fat. Those are the very things that are causing record numbers of obesity in our community. Nobody’s saying you shouldn’t enjoy our cultural food every now and then. But a soul food diet all the time is a license for health problems down the line.

Lie #2: Baby mamas/daddies are okay. No, not every child in the world is going to come into the world with two loving, married parents. And even some who do may end up as children of divorce. There are no guarantees that an intact family will stay intact. But statistics overwhelmingly prove that children born to single, teenage mothers have a much greater chance of being poor with limited educations and a show a greater propensity for violent and criminal behavior. When did we begin to accept that having children was a random and thoughtless decision, particularly at a time when birth control is more accessible and easier to use than ever before? When did we start to believe, as both men and women, that it’s okay to bring a life into the world before either parent is able to truly handle the responsibility? Given the grim statistics, we need to look at what a costly lie this has become.

Lie #3: Celebrities are more deserving of forgiveness than others. Convicted felons Li’l Kim, T.I., Chris Brown and Michael Vick have something in common despite their legal issues – the support of the black community. Given their respective crimes of perjury, weapons charges, domestic violence and dog-fighting, you have to wonder if they would receive that same support if their names weren’t bold-faced. Think about it: If any one of your friends and relatives had done any of those same things, would you have been so forgiving? It’s amazing that black folks who have washed their hands of people in their own lives have embraced celebrities they don’t even know after they’ve committed some pretty disturbing crimes.

Lie #4: A hustler mentality is more important than a formal education. The black community loves its hustlers, whether it’s Diddy, Jay-Z, The Knowles family or 50 Cent. Hustle, hustle, hustle is the ethos that permeates black America. Sure, hustling has its merits – but is it the only way to achieve success? President Barack Obama is probably the most primary example of what an education can do. He and his wife are both proud Ivy League graduates with advanced degrees. Hustle may be reserved for the few with the charisma and stamina to take them to the top, but an education is something accessible to anyone.

Lie #5: Water and snow are for other people. According to USA Swimming, nearly 60 percent of African-American children can’t swim, which is why they drown at three times the rate of other children. Why is that? Because there still exists a mentality that says that water and swimming are for “other” people – and because there are still girls whose parents allow them to use their hair as an excuse for staying out of the water. Somehow or another, the myth of black folks not liking water or snow has become a fact. (Please note the miniscule amount of black families you see skiing together at any ski resort.) And sadly, USA Swimming’s study showed that it was the parents who needed to be convinced most. Many either didn’t swim themselves or were afraid to have their children learn. Unfortunately, this is a mindset with dire consequences for many of our kids.

Lie #6: Complexion is destiny. Do we still believe that skin color is relevant in the black community? Well, only if you think that the negative reaction to Michelle Obama was primarily based on her Princeton thesis. There are people who still believe that certain things are given to or withheld from people based on their complexion. There are still those who find dark-skinned men menacing and light-skinned women the epitome of beauty. In fact, both dark and light-skinned people can point to misconceptions about them based solely on their skin color, something that no one has any control over. So how long will we go on believing the same old lies?

Lie #7: Marriage isn’t important anymore. The rate of black marriage continues to decline, as this depressing statistic shows – the percentage of African-American women who are married declined from 62 percent to 36.1 percent between 1950 and 2000. Apparently, the black community has decided that marriage is no longer a priority. Yet, if you look around, you’ll probably see the most financially stable people who lead the most productive and happy lives and who raise decent children are generally married. No, it’s not a sure-fire thing, but what is? In our community, the financial edge would certainly go to the two-income couple who can command greater stability just by having someone to share bills and child-rearing responsibilities with. That being said, why are so few of us overall choosing to walk down that aisle?

Lie #8: Obesity is not the most serious health care issue in our history. Black women and the men who love them have never accepted the European aesthetic that mandates that women be super-skinny. Our African ancestors passed down their curvaceous bodies, complete with round hips and full backsides. But somewhere along the way, obesity became the new “thick.” We’re not talking a big booty and a frame fuller than the average celebutante It girl; we’re talking women who are 100-150 pounds over a healthy weight, with rolls of fat and distended stomachs. We’re talking men who are so overweight, they are taking on female characteristics like breasts. Our children are experiencing obesity at ever-younger ages, yet this health crisis seems to be going unnoticed by most African-Americans who continue to eat unhealthy diets. (See #1.) It appears that although we survived slavery and Jim Crow and more, black people will finally be felled by food poisoning, which is exactly what our diets have become.

Lie #9: We are descended from royalty. Too many of us don’t know our history, so too few of us can make this claim with any real, absolute certainty. Indeed, it was Africa, not Europe or Asia, that had the oldest empires in the world. Many of us, as African people, did, in fact, descend from kings, queens and creators of art, music and architecture far superior to what the European culture would devise later on. Too much of African history has been lost or suppressed to promote European culture as the world’s most sophisticated. In 2005, Philadelphia’s public school system became the first in the country to require students to take a course in African-American history to graduate. Educators say that not only did it provide a much-needed addition of historical accuracy; it also helped increase self-esteem in a largely black public school population. As they say, if you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.

Lie #10: Black men don’t have emotional needs. Somehow, our community has come to the conclusion that black men don’t have emotions. The recent scorn which greeted public tears by basketball players Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson, as well as comedian D.L. Hughley, made it seem as though the stereotypical image of strong, silent black men is alive and well. We offer much support in the way of girl’s emotional needs, with programs targeted to increase their self-esteem, but what about our boys? Given the fact that the violence in most of our cities is perpetuated by and on young black males, shouldn’t we be considering how to meet their emotional needs instead of just locking them up? If we could start acknowledging those needs earlier and helping them learn how to deal with feelings, we might all have a brighter future. After all, these are potential fathers and husbands!

Written By Tonya Pendleton

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