The So Called American Problem

A friend of mine, on facebook, posted a link to a book by Philip A. Muhammad called The HipHop Nation: Willie Lynch’s Newest Slave. I did not read the book but I have read some of Brother Muhammad’s writing. Brother Muhammad says his book unearth’s the “truth and reality of governmental and corporate America and the slave master role they play on a global scale”. In other writing he makes clear who he blames. His website states that the “so-called American Jew is using the HIPHOP Nation and its Music, to transform slavery from a physical thang to a psychological thang”.

Brother Muhammad’s words are offensive and untrue. And yet they’re not baseless. Many Jewish people are movers and shakers in the entertainment industry. Many movers and shakers in the entertainment industry profit from Hip Hop. Hip Hop, at least in its worst form, is detrimental to the Black community. Therefore, many Jews are profiting from from the troubles of Blacks. But that’s a far cry from suggesting that there is a conspiracy of “So Called American Jews” to keep Blacks psychologically enslaved. Mr. Muhammad correctly describes behaviors that are detrimental to the Black community, including: “Referring to each other as Niggers”, “Growing ignorance of the world and the politics that govern it” and “Calling women bitches”. It is an absurd stretch of the imagination to lay the blame for this behavior squarely on the “So Called American Jews”, even if many Jews, along with non-Jews, promote it and profit from it.

But the blame for troubles in the Black community should not be laid exclusively at the feet of Black people, either. Doing so denies that slavery, followed by a century of Jim Crow, followed by good-hearted but detrimental efforts to alleviate poverty have lasting effects throughout generations. Slavery and the institutionalized bigotry of the past continue to cause problems today. The most lasting effect slavery had on the African American community was the destruction of the family. This was, and to a degree is still worsened by misguided efforts to help. When the best thing a poor man can do for his family is disappear, that creates long lasting detrimental effects.

Muhammad’s hateful rhetoric, along with that of non-Blacks who assume no responsibility for problems in the Black community, deny the “American” in “African American”. Communities are willing to help those people that they consider their own. But many Americans don’t see Black people as part of American society. That includes African Americans like Philip Muhammad who primarily blame non-Blacks for their troubles and who prescribe isolation from the American community as the solution.

What should be done? Improve schools in poor neighborhoods. Put more cops in high crime areas and support programs that improve relations between the police and the neighborhoods that they patrol. Provide health care to children. Support programs like Head Start, which not only provide education and developmental services for young children but also provide daycare to allow single parents to find work. According to one study, the “society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 invested” in Head Start programs, but Head Start and similar programs are on the chopping block of Republican budget reforms.

What should not be done is laying blame for Black troubles at the feet of any single racial, religious, or ethnic group. We are all Americans. The troubles in Black communities are an American problem.

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