What should I be doing instead of this?
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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

By Kathy Y. Wilson · June 20th, 2002 · Your Negro Tour Guide
Dear black males ages 13-55 years old:

You're scaring me.

I thought you were smarter than this. I thought you knew there are destructive forces standing and conspiring against you.

You don't need to ever battle one another. But still you do.

I see you, sitting on ghetto stoops, saluting the sun with a French kiss to an up-turned brown paper bag. Others race around in bank-financed suits, dodging second mortgages and mistresses, blowing your children's college educations on blow.

And the rest? You distance yourselves from the ones who need your example, afraid the dirt of their niggadom might stick to you.

You're adorned in false happiness that hides volatility and anger. What's up? Why can't you relax?

When you talk among yourselves, whom do you blame for failure and disappointment and whom do you praise when you gain ground?

I'm just wondering, because you're killing one another in record numbers. Not only that, the cops suspect you in most of these homicides.

See, you're hemmed up.

What level of big pimpin' would spin you into a rage sufficient to make murder an option or, dumber still, an excuse to rack up street credibility? Where do you get your examples, in videos, boardrooms, nightclubs, the news or sports?

That's where you're wrong. Black athletes collect 'hos like I collect snow globes. Mediocre black male warblers get caught desecrating all over somebody's under-age daughter like outtakes from their raunchy, record company financed pornos. (Can you say "R. Kelly?")

Meanwhile, making money is celebrated and worshiped.

Sometimes it's hard telling the difference between a black-owned mansion and a black-owned church, yet the courts run on black-ass gasoline.

Why are you so afraid? Why must you be so hard? Why do you make it so hard?

So far this year there's been 33 homicides in Cincinnati. Of those, there are 28 victims whose race and gender I know; 17 of them are dead black men and 17 black men are either suspects in or have been arrested for their brothers' deaths.

We're not yet even into the meat of summer and here we are, destroying ourselves at the speed of night.

We live where no one wants responsibility for his or her actions. This includes you. And it's so tired how some of you blame the man, the system, the cops, the baby mamma, the war, the blah, blah, blah.

Don't you know whomever you deem your enemy delights in your genocidal behavior? They're laughing at how you look and behave. They're moving away from you and brokering deals to secure a future minus you.

How does that make you feel? Maybe you don't know how you feel because no one ever told you it's OK to rub up against your feelings without rubbing your penis up against everything.

You've bought into the game. It's playing you and not vice versa.

I live out here, too. I know there are things to acquire, women and men to lay and trails to blaze. In your empty quest for legacies, however, you're burning yourselves alive in the process.

Many of you have kept it clean and holy, but why is it only the black men on your pew benefit from your holy fellowship? Your reach isn't long enough. (See Mathew 25:40: "Inasmuchas you did it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.")

Black women don't always make it easier, because we're dealing with a truckload of drama, too. We run to church without you, start dating Jesus and no one else measures up. We work you to an early grave to buy things we think we can't live without because we're still unsure of who we are.

We, like you, are afraid to be unadorned. We're not always available. When we are, we try to love away who you've become so we can remake you.

That never works. So we separate and play each other against the middle. And the children we make, we foist them -- incomplete and half-cloaked and cocked -- onto the world and wonder why nobody else can fix them.

This cycle is like a snake eating its tail.

If it sounds like I've slipped off into melodrama, I have. The drama has reached biblical proportions.

Don't worry about who else reads this. I write to you in love. So what if the other team knows we love one another?

I don't fear you. I don't always understand you. I accept you for who you are, wherever you are.

People died so you could be free to do better. But today you're killing each other and it can't get much worse. You can do better, so much better.


Kathy Y. Wilson

Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.


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