Thursday, November 15, 2007

I have a question...

My question is simple, is it time for the African American middle class to cut all ties with African Americans who choose to be "low-class"?

I read a post on a related subject at the blog What Tami Said, and it allowed me to think out loud the thoughts I've been having internally for some time.

Almost every day, there is some new study released saying that African Americans are doing just so, so badly. Whether it's on health, family, income, you name it. And almost without exception when I read these studies they do not resonate with me as being true.

I really don't think 70% of middle class African Americans are having babies out of wedlock. I know that middle class African Americans are not engaging in Black on Black crime. The Black middle class is not dropping out of high school and are not in jail.

In African America class is not always defined by economic status. There is a tradition in the African American community to judge class by behavior. So a 'dirt' poor person may be considered middle class simply by how they live their life. I think this has to do with the history of barriers being placed in our way that prevented many of us from earning a so-called middle class salary.

So I'm not talking about poor African Americans, I'm talking about "low-class" African Americans. You know like the people on The Maury Povich Show. Who have totally no shame to go on national television and proclaim that they have no idea who the father of their child is. That's "low-class" behavior.

We all have choices. So unless we think that Blacks who engage in "low-class" behavior are somehow incapable of choosing a more positive way to live their lives, why do we continue to aid and abet their behavior by allowing ourselves to be associated with them?

Is this too harsh?

Back to my question, is it time for the African American middle class to cut all ties with African Americans who choose to be "low-class"?

What do you think?





37 comments:

Randi523 said...

Ooooh, I'm almost embarassed to say this, but I was just thinking the other day, "I almost tired of Black people...and I'm Black!"
I'm educated, guess I'm considered middle class, but I know everyone's situation/life is slated to be different, so I don't discriminate/divide. But it's getting hard, with all of the media images, and just "less than savvy" (I'll say that in lieu of ignorant, lazy, smart-mouthed, loud, volatile personalities, etc) Black people I see here in B'ham. I think, Birmingham is one of the main cities of the Civil Rights Movement, look what the Black people here now are like!
I would like to try to uplift the "less than savvy" Black people first, rather than disassociate. But I know that would be extremely difficult, esp. since they think they're just "keepin' it real" and/or "not acting White."

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Randi,

To think about this kind of makes me feel guilty, but it's on my mind. We are not all alike. I think that there are at least two Black cutures that have developed.

So, if we are not alike should we, the middle class, continue to fight battles for the 'other' Blacks?

Difficult question to ponder and just as difficult to answer.

Thanks

Tami said...

MDC,

Since I wrote my post and read yours, I’ve been thinking about the notion of solidarity. H.G. Wells said, “A downtrodden class … will never be able to make an effective protest until it achieves solidarity.” That is undeniable. Throughout my life as a black woman, I have had that idea reinforced regarding my community, so I get a sickening feeling when black middle class folks talk about “cutting loose” other black folks. When I wrote my post yesterday, I felt gnawing middle class guilt. The very notion of what I was saying is contrary to black solidarity as it is thought of in the black community.

But you know what? Here is the definition of solidarity that I found on answer.com: “A union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests.”

I think this definition explains the fallacy of commonality based solely on race. The results of the recent Pew study underscore that not every black person shares interests, purposes, sympathies, responsibilities and interests. I don’t think this is a bad thing. It just is.

So MDC, what is the answer to your question and mine? What is the responsibility of the middle class?

We are not obligated to embrace or endorse people and behaviors that damage us. In fact, I think we are obligated to call out and challenge those (of any class) who put our survival in jeopardy—from the neighborhood drug dealer to the smut merchants at Viacom and BET. I can’t be unified with someone who is trying to kill me—figuratively or physically.

Middle class black folks should reject the guilt that gets laid at our feet for “abandoning” the black race. I am not a traitor for seeking opportunity for me and my family.

But we are obligated to give back in return for the blessings that we enjoy. We need to work to even the playing field for all people and removing the institutional barriers to success. We need to support programs that heal the self esteem of black men, women and children. We need to practice generosity and compassion. You know I love the Dalai Lamaisms: “Visualize every being as your own beloved mother or as another person for whom you have the utmost affection, someone who, for you, embodies great kindness.”

So, to me, it is not about making enemies of other black folks, but it is about “cutting loose” unhealthy attachments to people and thinks that are detrimental.

Whew! You really got me thinking with this one. This evening, I’m going to link to your post on my site and probably crib this comment and amend it to my post.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Tami,

Are we talking about a "post-Black" era beginning?

The concept of being Black has been a godsend and a burden to all of us for all of our history in this country. But as we move into this new century isn't it our right to define ourselves?

I think all of the studies that are done about "us" are an effort by others to continue to define who we are. As well I believe the media images you allude to are part of that same effort.

I think the Pew/ NPR poll shows that maybe we are entering a "post-Black" era, at least in terms of how we view each other.

All I know for sure is that we as a group cannot continue to have such a dual personality and not acknowledge it.

I'm looking forward to reading your post.


Thanks

Tami said...

"Post-black" era. I like that!

I'm no sociologist, but I'll bet you can trace this schism in our community to the changes that have occurred since emancipation, and most obviously since the end of the Civil Rights movement.

What I'm saying is that pre-emancipation, our lives were defined by blackness. It governed everything from family life to (lack of) education to (forced) work.

As we have gained more freedom, blackness is less of a defining trait. In fact, our lives may be more defined by geography, education, class, etc. We have moved beyond the blackness-only era to the post-black era.

Trademark that!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Tami,

I didn't coin the phrase "Post-Black", although I have not seen it used in this context before. The term Post-Black comes from the art world. There is a group of African American artists who did not/ do not like the fact that their art was seen only as Black art rather than simply art first. They felt this excluded them from being considered apart of the western art scene, there by limiting their opportunities. It should be noted though that they did not mind their Blackness being seen as an element of their art, just not the sole and not necessarily the most important element.

So, I have borrowed the term as it seems to fit this theme. Since one of the points we both seem to be trying to make is that to judge a person first on race, excludes them from being first, the unique person that they are. And also that if race is only applied it makes for false classifications. So that a middle class person who is Black can be classified with a non-middle class person who is Black simply because both are Black.

So the premise of Blackness as a unifying characteristic is in question, which is the point both of us have been making.

(lol) I hope that made sense, I'm rushing because I'm at work.

Miriam said...

I think all this shows we have a lot of work to do.

if somehow we could shut off the mainstream influence and really build within. (hey,didn't China do something like that?)

Miriam said...

@ Randi:

that "keepin it real" line just cracks me up!

Tami said...

Aaaah, well congratulations on a new use of "post black." I completely agree with your explanation.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Miriam,

You're right we do have work to do. I think that many of us are already tuning out the so-called mainstream. Thankfully!

I think China just censors pretty much everything.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Tami,

Cool, feel free to run with it, I'm looking forward to your thoughts later.

Lisa said...

MDC, my concerns about middle class blacks cutting ties with blacks with low class behaviors - are the kids. What do we do about their children? do we cut ties and run the risk of excluding them from the kind of connections they need in order to transcend classes? Just by nature of their environment and their experiences, the children are destined to exhibit some "low class tendencies" - what about the children?

Mes Deux Cents said...

Lisa,

I was hoping you would comment, because I knew you would see an angle I wasn't paying attention to.

The children, well that would create a problem. But one of the points of doing this would be to create clearly defined goals for people, including children. At the moment the lines or boundaries between what is middle class and what is not are so blurred, that I wonder if a child caught in an unfortunate circumstance would be able to discern what he or she should be aiming for.

Wouldn't a more clear line of demarcation create a clearer path for young people to follow, a road map to success?

Lisa said...

I don't know. I think that people are products of their circumstances - the adults too. At some point the "low-class" adults were children, and because someone with different values failed to make a significant enough impact on them when they were children, they grew into what we consider full blown low class. Cutting ties will only serve to make the divide wider - children might not be able to see it as a line that they can cross. Someone has to put the elbow grease in the hard work and lead by example and SERVICE. Cutting the ties won't allow this type of leadership. There has got to be a way, though, because this is quite frustrating.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Lisa,

Yep, it is frustrating. But we are losing generation after generation of kids now.

The problem is that we keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. As I'm sure you know that is the definition of insanity.

Eventually we have to change the game plan. Cutting ties completly may not be the answer but we have to develop a new strategy.

I am TIRED of the same 'ole. same 'ole!

Ehav Ever said...

Actually, I have been collecting a few books and studies that seem to suggest that there never was really a concept of race as a unifying factor in America. The problem is that the history of African America is one that often is one sided, and often leaves holes in areas when it comes to culture.

Not all African Americans were slaves. Some were enslaved only for a short period of time. Some were able to maintain their cultures and languages (just look at the Gullahs on the east coast). Some African Americans owned other African Americans as slaves. Some were mixed before they got here. Some were mixed due to circumstances after they got here. Some were able to become a part of the middle or upper class fairly quickly.

So I think that any African American who feels that a particular person, no matter who they are, puts their life and well being at risk they should cut ties with said person. Besides, there is no evidence that all African Americans have ever really had any ties to begin with. To me this has nothing to due with social status or wealth assessment, this is about culture and morality. If someone doesn't share your culture or morality then where is written that you must be connected to them no matter what they do.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

I think the unity that we think of began during the civil rights movement. After that we continued to think of unity but the two groups took very different paths. So now 30 or 40 years later all the differences between middle class African America and the other group are pretty stark.

Do you see this kind of conversation amongst Ethiopian Jews there? I know that they have had some problems that don't get much press attention here.

Tami said...

Well spoken, Evah.

It's just that somehow (and I think it started in the Civil Rights era because unity was needed)the notion of African Americans as a diverse people was lost.

Unfortunately, I think we as black people are just as guilty of neglecting the history you mention as the mainstream is. Look at popular culture. There is a whole genre of comedy devoted to "black people do this, white people do that...you know how we black people do it." Then you have the "you're not black enough" police who call out black folks who don't fit narrow standards of blackness.

Like Evah said, we are a wonderfully diverse people, so it should come as no surprise that our values differ. Why do you all think, then, that the Pew study is generating so much hoopla? And where does the expectation that we are all the same come from?

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Tami,

I think the Pew/ NPR study is generating attention because it's saying out loud what many of us have been thinking for a long time.

Miriam said...

Hmmm...this could explain why people insist that others talk bout their "blackness".

The insistance of "black" or "blackness" may be an unknowing attempt to continue this mindset that we are all related somehow -if not by culture, morality then by simply color.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Miriam,

How do African American ex-patriot Jews and Ethiopian Jews there get along? Is there any effort for the two groups to unify or to have dialogues?

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

In terms of your question. The answer to that is long and complex, but here goes. Israel is made up of the following Jewish Ethnic Groups.

1) Mizrahi Jews - Jews of Middle Eastern and Asian Descent. Israeli, Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Lebonese, Indian, etc.
2) Sephardi Jews - Jews of Spanish and Norther African Descent. (I for example personally fall in this category) Local legends say that some Jews were in these areas around 600 BCE and before.
3) Yemenite Jews - Jews of Yemenite descent. Local legends say the first Jews came to Yemen about 586 BCE.
4) Askhenazi Jews - Jews of Eastern and Northern European descent. (Subdivisions - American Jews have been forming their own Israeli communities in many areas)
5) Ethiopian Jews - Made up of Jews whose families were air lifted from Ethiopia.
6) Indian Jews - 3 or 4 distinct Indian Ethnic groups. Bombay Jews, Cochin Jews, and Bene Menashe.
7) Russian Jews - Jews from the former Soviet Union.
8) Black Hebrews or Hebrew Israelites - There is a community of people who were formally African Americans who live in the desert in Dimona. Many of their views and religious traditions are different than what is practiced by most Jews. Yet they are Israeli.
9) Samaritans - The Samaritans are not Jewish in the traditional sense. They prefer to be called Samaritan Israelites. They are made up of peoples who say that they come from the Northern Tribes of ancient Israel who were attacked by the Assyrians in about 700 BCE.
10) Gerim - Various people who converted to Judiasm. Normally these people mix in with any one of the above communities. Most Gerim have mixed into the Ashkenazi community. This may include SOME African Americans.

It must be noted that many Jews are the mix of these ethnic groups.

In Israeli society people on the religious and cultural level normally gravitate towards the Jewish culture their family came from. For example, if your family came from Morocco you may live in a Moroccan community where there is a Moroccan synagogue near by. If you are Yemenite then you gravitate towards a Yemenite community.

Many communities now a days are mixed to the point where there is a Moroccan synagogue, a Yemenite synagogue, and a Polish synagogue all in with a block of each other. People who follow these individual traditions may all live in the same neighborhood, but they pray and live according to their family Jewish culture (normally determined by the father). At the same times Jews from different cultures often pray together at different synagogues, since at the core Jewish culture EVERYWHERE is about 85% the same with minor differences based on location and which tradition you follow.

Okay so now about Ethiopian Jews. There are some African Americans who have taken the American black is black concept and tried to apply it here with bad results. In Ethiopia there are about 50 ethnic groups. Ethiopian Jews were treated badly by most of them. In Ethiopia, Ethiopian Christians and Muslims called Ethiopian Jews Falashas, which means outsiders. It is similar to the N-Word in America. So in Ethiopia, just like a lot of African countries it is not your skin color it is your ethnicity and culture that unites a group. I have heard of some African Americans, who don't know this, approaching Ethiopian Jews the way they would an African American and they misunderstood the Ethopian response to it. My Ethiopian Israeli friends in NYC used to say that they never understood what it was like to be black until they came to America. For many of them, not all of them, if you speak Hebrew and you have a community you are a part of you are Israeli. I have PERSONALLY found this to be true for myself.

Now in terms of a unification between African American Jews and Ethiopian Jews. I don't know of any kind of attempt to do such, mainly because of what I mentioned earlier. If you speak Hebrew and have a community, and you don't have to rely on other people for your livelyhood you are Israeli. Many segments of Israeli society are very much family orientated, especially if you have a community of your own. The problem, that I have seen and note I have a different situation than many, is that some African Americans who come here don't come with a community that they are part of. Some come and they are a part of a community, mainly the European one and they don't feel comfortable in said community. Some come and they don't speak much Hebrew.

On the flip side, from my own personal experience, I have been confused by several Ethiopian Jews an Ethiopian Jew. Once I was visiting a friend of mine before she went back to America. Her family all thought I was Ethiopian at first. One of her aunts started speaking to me in Amharic (Ethiopian). I used to speak some Ethiopian, but not enough to carry on long conversation. Another Ethiopian Jew who worked security at the local mall kept asking me where I was from, and I rattled off to him all the places I have lived. He then said, no where in Ethiopia did your family come from. I then had to explain to him that my father's family was Sephardic Jewish, but that I had been in Ethiopia in 2001. Many non-Ethiopians I told this to have been confused by this since they tell me I don't look Ethiopian.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

To your next question. From my PERSONAL experience, the problems of Ethiopian Jews in Israel fall into the following categories.

1) They came from an persecuted agriculture existence in Ethiopia. Because Ethiopia has a number of factions and development issues, Ethiopian Jews were kept at the lower part of society for hundreds of years. When they were mass air lifted to Israel they then had to come up to speed with a Western/European style society within a few days.

2) The first groups of Ethiopians who came in the late 1960's and early 1970's are doing better in some cases then the larger groups who came in the 1980's and 1990's. They simply had more time and more attention with which to acclimate to Israeli society.

3) Israeli is a hard place to live for ANYONE. Wars, threats or wars, etc. affect our social living as well as economy. You move here for the principal more than the money so to speak.

4) Many Ethiopian Jews were expecting to come here and live exactly as the times of the Bible. Yet, they had a huge culture shock they had to adjust to. There is no mention in the bible of paying bills, mortgage rates, inflation, car insurance, etc. so imagine going from not knowing about these to have to learn them the next day.

5) The youth who were able to learn Hebrew, and acclimate faster than their parents or grandparents somewhat rebelled against their families and culture. They felt that they knew better than their ancestors because they now had more power. In many cases the parents were not working, but the kids were. So imagine your mother trying to tell you what to do and you make the money.

6) There has also been tensions between husbands and their wives. In Ethiopia the man was the main bread winner, and now in Israel the role has reversed. This has made some men who remember Ethiopia be mean to their wives because they couldn't handle the switch.

7) The worst problem I see is that of Ethiopian youth imitating American Rap, R&B, and Pop culture. This is a problem with a number of Israeli youth, but I see it hitting Ethiopians hard since some of them believe the images they see in the rap, R&B, and pop they see from America, and they think if they act that way it is better than their own culture. When my friend came home to visit her family, after she was in America for 5 years, her younger brother who is about 10 or 11 greeted her with "What's up my n&gga!". I remember how most the English he spoke he spoke it like he learned it from a rap song.

On the flip side of this there is a movement of some Ethiopian Jews to try to get their youth to return to their cultural foundation, and do away with the outside influences.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Ehav,

The African American Jew - Ethiopian Jew situation sounds a lot like Middle Class and non-middle class African Americans. The two groups many times have nothing in common.

I wondered because it seems that African Americans many times have a deep desire to connect to other similar groups of people.

I have read a little about the Black Hebrews. In fact I just the other day read that they are now getting Israeli citizenship.

Thanks!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

Ethiopian culture is so interesting. Especially being that there are so many different ethnic groups among them.

It really makes me wonder about the ethnic differences that may have existed in this country amongst our ancestors. Those differences, whatever they were, have been either erased by time or exacerbated by time. I'm not sure which.

Thanks, you have given me a lot to think about. Also thanks for the detailed answers. I knew a bit about the different groups of Jews but not a lot.

I noticed though, that you did not mention Orthodox Jews. As a former New Yorker I was accustomed to seeing them around the city, mainly the men. I have always assumed that there is a large community of Orthodox there, it that right? Also what about the generations of Jews born in Israel, do they consider themselves being a particular group or a part of their family’s older tradition?

Thanks again, this is very interesting, I am very curious about culture.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

The African American Jewish vs. Ethiopian Israeli thing may sound similar to what you mentioned, but it is different in one main fact. There has never been any cultural or historical connection between African American Jews and Ethiopian Israelis. There are some African American Jews who want there to be because they created for themselves a connection. There are some African American Black Jewish groups who call their congregations Ethiopian, but most of them have no direct link to Ethiopian culture. I visited one place once that called itself Ethiopian, but their prayers were not Ethiopian Jewish prayers. In fact their prayer books were European Jewish prayer books. I think this is where the disconnect and misunderstanding by some come from. It is like how the Rasta's hold Ethiopian culture so high, but Ethiopians for the most part don't see Rasta's as having a real connection to Ethiopia.

People of West African descent would have a closer connection to North African Jews. There were once several Jewish communities in Senegal, Mali, and Cape Verde that were made up of North African Jews.

At the same time an African American Jew who simply looked at Ethiopian Jews as another Jewish ethnic group, who they may know something about would have no problem. People who go in expecting something simply becase of skin color often come up short so to speak. It is just a matter of saying if your Jewish that is the connection, not the skin color.

Ehav Ever said...

There are some books that talk about the ethnic differences amongst African Americans. Some families were able to maintain them. Especially those who are Gullahs and Black Seminoles. When I get a chance I will send you a book list.

Ehav Ever said...

In terms of Orthodox Jews, they are not an ethnic group. The Orthodox Jews you see in NYC are most of the time a part of the Ashkenazi Jewish ethnic group. Their way of dress is simply a part of their culture from Europe. The title Orthodox mainly comes from how in Europe there was a big divide between Jews who no longer identified with Jewish religion, but kept to certain cultural elements. This divide created the Reform Jewish Movement. To combat them the religious community becam known as the Orthodox movement.

Other Jewish communities in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia didn't have such an extreme divide. In these communities people who are religious, or not very religious still go to the same synagogues with those who are religious.

Ehav Ever said...

In Israel Jewiwh culture based on location still exits. It has always been a part of Judaism. For example, in the Bible there were 12 Tribes of Israel all descended from Jacob. Each tribe had a particular personality or culture. When the tribal affiliations became less well known, and Jews were scattered to different countries. The core of Judiasm stayed the same. The differences were mainly things like liturgy style, music, miner practices, etc. It is not a difference as much in what we do, it is more in how we do it.

There are some groups who broke off from the main stream and have major differences. There are a group of Jews called Karaites who have major differnces.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

Thanks for telling me about Orthodoxy, I knew just a little bit before.By the way do you listen to Matisyahu? He's Orthodox isn't he?

For some reason a whole lot of African Americans feel a link to Ethiopean culture, including me. I think one of the reasons might be that Ethiopia was never really colonized, even though the Italians tried.

Rastafarians are very interesting. I saw a film about Rastas that have moved to Ethiopia. I've never gotten the impression that Ethiopians have bought into Rastafarianism.

One more thing, are there any African American or Black Orthodox Jews?

Thanks!

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

I don't personally listen to Matisyahu. I am more into Middle Eastern Jewish music. Yes, he is Orthodox.

Yes, I believe that the connection to Ethiopia that many African Americans and even various Africans feel to Ethiopia is that they were able to stand up to attempts to colonize them. Also, Haille Sallaise was a prolific figure, even though he was a dictator. I visited his old palace in Addis Ababa. It is no the main building for Addis Ababa University.

In terms of Rastas. When I was in Ethiopia, the Ethiopians I talked to about them found them interested, but funny. My girlfriend at the time told me how Rastafarians were making up history about Haile Sallaise that never happened. I have never met an actual Ethiopian who was a Rasta. the closet one may come is an Ethiopian who did not grow up in Ethiopia. There is enough in the various Ethiopian cultures for them to not have to jump ship and become Rastas. I don't think they have bad feelings about Rastas, I think they just find them kind of like funny culture groupies. For the most part Ethiopians tend to be nice people so they don't make a big fuss about other cultures that are attracted to their cultures. I know that they find it interesting.

Yes, there are African American Jews who are a part of the Orthodox Communities. The one thing that has to be noted. In English, the word Orthodox is often used to describe all religious Jews. At the same time there are other titles like Ultra-Orthodox, Hereidi, Modern-Orthodox, etc.

Many of my friends in the states kept calling me Orthodox, but I don't like that title. I am a Sephardic Jew who prays with Yemenite Jews, and that is what I prefer to be described as. For me, the word Orthodox always points back to a European Jewish movement, and not religious action per say.

Ehav Ever said...

One question I would like to make in terms of your topic.

When did you or any of your ancestors accept responsibility for black people who are 180 degrees opposite you morals and ethics? This has nothing to do with class, or wealth. There are some moral and ethical African Americans who are poor, and there are some evil and amoral African Americans who are middle class or rich.

If neither you nor family ever made yourself responsible for people who live opposite to you then you are not responsible for them.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

Thanks for the Ethiopia info. There are lots of Ethiopians who live in my area. In fact, today I did some shopping and one of the cashiers may have been Ethiopian, I say may because I made the conclusion just based on her looks. She was defiantly East African though.

And regarding your question, I think that since the civil rights movement the African American middle class has to an extent taken responsibility for speaking up for those who may not have voices. This was the case following hurricane Katrina.

Even beyond that there are cases like Dunbar Village in Florida (see the blog What About Our Daughters? if you aren't familiar with this case) that the middle class is driving an effort to deal with that situation. Also the driving force behind getting appropriate justice for the Jena 6 was from the middle class.

So in that context, yes we have to a degree taken responsibility. I think this is why many times the middle class feels betrayed by, I will use the term "low-class" African Americans for what seems in many cases a decided lack of effort.

And I understand that money doesn't necessarily equate to middle class values. Snoop Dogg is rich and yet low-class. That's why in my post I made that distinction.

I really like Matisyahu, his music is really unique. And speaking of unique, have you heard of Joshua Nelson? He's an African American Jewish singer who blends "traditional" Jewish music with a gospel music style. I'm not sure what that means because I have not heard his music yet. That's what the article about him said. Here is his website;
http://www.joshuanelson.com/

Let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

What I mean in terms of responsibility is this. Take everything that Snoop Dog and others like him are doing, take the Crips and the Blood gangs and what they are doing, take rappers and R&B performers and what they are doing, take for example a black drug dealer, take for example a black prostitute, etc. Now make the two things they have in common as their skin color being anywhere from light brown to dark and that they CHOOSE to live this way and that they CHOOSE to live without morality.

When did you or your family make a pledge to accept this as your responsibility? It is one thing to say you are responsible for the poor, the downtrodden, etc. most societies on some level feel that way. Yet, do you feel responsible for people who willingly are steering themselves and others to destruction? If so why and when did you become responsible for them?

If you answer yes to this, at what point do you cut off your support from said people? What happens, for example, when they steal your car? What happens when they try to convince your children to follow their path? What happens when they affect your livelihood and how you are viewed in society?

This is where I, personally, saw a problem in various African American societies. There were some African American cultures I know of who made it simple and plain that those who choose to destroy their lives and others were not their responsibility. Those whose moral outlook was at stark contrast to theirs was also not their responsibility. Those who wanted to find hope, those who wanted to change, and those who would change if they had help they felt responsible for. At some point being responsible for the knuckleheads takes you away from the people you ARE really responsible for. That is just my thinking. The way I look at things is that any person who willingly steers themselves or others towards destructive behavior are nothing like me and they are also not my responsibility. This includes family members.

Ehav Ever said...

Yes, I have heard of Joshua Nelson. He was getting a lot of press in the Jewish community before I left. His music has the traditional gospel sound found in African American churches, but the lyrics are based on Jewish beliefs and such.

I haven't listened to any of his much, because I am not a fan of the gospel sound. I am more into ancient musical sounds. I like certain modern music, but I am very picky when it comes to music. I used to do music way back when.

There are a number of Jews who like the passion behind gospel music, even if they don't agree with Christian philosophy. I have a friend who is a Yemenite Jew and he loves gospel. He of course won't buy it because of the lyrics, but he likes the sound and the intensity. My theory is because in Yemenite synagogues there is the same kind of intensity in the liturgy. Here is a link to my a video of the Yemenite Jewish synagogue, my old synagogue in Manhattan during Sukkoth (Tabernacles) link

You may also find this interesting. This is a procession of a Yemenite Jewish bride during what is called a Hena ceremony before the wedding. HERE

Ehav Ever said...

You may also find the following interesting. It is of a Yemenite Jewish party here in Israel in a city called Rosh Ha-Ayin. It is known as really Yemenite Jewish city. HERE

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

I get your point. No I do not feel responsible for those who choose negative lifestyles.

That brings us back to my post. The middle class community has allowed itself to be closly associated with those that you speak about. This has become a drain on the middle class in many ways.

Having standards is the key to any groups continued success.

Thanks for the links, I'll check them out. I'm going to listen to Joshua Nelson too.

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron