A PLEA TO THE TALENTED TENTH
By Langston X. Thomas (Baba Adubiifa)
Psychologist Naim Akbar says black Americans are also in a state of denial about the lingering effects of slavery on our thinking. Akbar and Hacker agree that the American psyche remains traumatized by slavery and is in need of mental healing (psychotherapy). And Dr. Akbar says in psychotherapy, "a confrontation of the original trauma and a restructuring of the minds faulty adaptations to the assault can serve to correct these disturbed patterns of responding." Under this view, if we are to eliminate the "ghost of the plantation" from our cultural landscape, there must be honest and continuous dialogue within as well as between the races.
What about the "Talented Tenth"? W.E.B. Dubois envisioned that the 10% of Black Americans who acquired the skills and/or education that enabled us to succeed in the larger society would eventually "come home" and use our tools and talents to build a bridge between the Black "haves" and the Black "have-nots." Unfortunately many of the "talented tenth" (and I speak from personal experience) used our tools and talents to build personal bridges between the so-called races and then used these bridges as private access roads from the ghetto to the suburbs. In the process, of course, we left our less fortunate sisters and brothers behind. Hebrew scholar Ben Ammi, writes in his book, God the Black Man and Truth, "Education today is based upon class, aimed at attaining power and fulfilling materialistic desires rather than providing a service to our fellow man." I remember how my college classmates and I laughed at the African brothers who said they were going to get an education and then go back home to help their people. In retrospect I now know, an immigrant wants to help his people while a slave wants to help himself. Many of us are now confessing we made a bad deal. We voluntarily sacrificed our spiritual health for the pursuit of material wealth. We now remember that when we had less, we shared more. And we also remember when a "good home" meant something more than a "well-built house" in the suburbs.
As we enter the 21st century, we must accept the responsibility for our own destiny as a people. Perhaps racial profiling and the attacks on affirmative action are blessings in disguise. As Professor Hacker so diplomatically reminds us, "America is inherently a white country: in character, in structure, in culture." And in Americas version of apartheid writes Hacker, "white Americans show little inclination toward giving full nationality to the descendants of African slaves." We must therefore struggle to understand the words of the late scholar/researcher Chancellor Williams when he said, "Now it is just here within the race where integration is not only needed but it is mandatory."
And most of all, we must rededicate ourselves to God. In her appropriately named book, Volunteer Slavery, Sister Jill Nelson uses the term "spiritual materialism" to describe our misguided, dollar driven approach to God. "Spiritual materialism" has infiltrated all religions, however, since we are predominantly a Christian people, Ill define it as talking about Jesus when we really want to live like Caesar. Can the true spirit of Christ dwell in such an atmosphere? Were sending mixed messages to our children and then wondering why they are in such a state of confusion. One sure way of praising and honoring our Creator is by using our unique qualities and abilities to better the human condition. GOD IS, LETS GET BUSY!!
Langston X. Thomas, J.D. is also Baba Adubiifa, an ordained African (Yoruba) priest. He is state Chaplain for the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC), a voting rights organization, and currently serves as a member of the Huntsville Human Relations Commission (HRC). He is also past president of the Huntsville Branch of the NAACP. His e-mail address isadubifa@Hiwaay.net.