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Frogs In Boiling Water

The boiling frog story states that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough. It is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out with the sudden realization of change in its surrounding environment. But if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, the gradual change in the environment will be too subtle for the frog to perceive and it will never jump out. However, Professor Doug Melton of Harvard University’s biology department says that if you put a frog in boiling water, it won’t jump out but will die from the trauma and if you put the frog in cold water, it will jump before it gets hot because they don’t sit still for you.

The story is generally told in a figurative context, with the upshot being that people should make themselves aware of gradual change lest we find ourselves adapting to catastrophic losses. This myth has been reprinted many times and used to illustrate many different points. One such point serves as a warning against existing in abusive relationships. We are not inclined to notice gradual changes over long periods of time. This is how some partners adapt to verbal abuse. People slowly adapt until, like the proverbial frog, they are living in an environment which is actually detrimental to their spirit.

With all the successes of the civil rights movement, the elimination of unfair laws, the creation of laws that were designed to help assure equality in education, housing, employment, and throughout our culture for black people, people in the black community began to feel that the struggle for racial equality was over. We took the woefully shortsighted belief that we had won. With these new laws on the books, no one would be so inclined to continue his or her discriminate against black people.

But the gains associated with the civil rights laws have been rescinded. Gradually, over a period of time, without ever doing much of anything to make a dent in the outrageous advantages associated with white privilege and the disadvantages associated with black subjugation, we the people of America find ourselves returning to an environment that tolerates racial discrimination. So many people are under the impression that it would be unfair to white people to do anything to correct the generations of institutionalized oppression perpetrated against black people by the dominant community with the aid of our governments at every level from the local to the national.

To do anything to help correct years of discrimination that has allowed the white community to prosper and gain wealth as well as to develop every advantage possible would be too much like reverse discrimination. The best thing for the country now is to ignore the past, keep the status quo, treat everybody equal, and pretend that white people are not favored but are automatically considered the best candidate because of some myth about superior white intelligence and black people’s lack of responsibility.

On the nightly news, we see story after story of black people alleged to have commit crimes of larceny and all the shootings in the black community and we are ready to tolerate law enforcers coming down hard on black people thinking that such heavy handedness is necessary because black crime has gotten out of hand. On the nightly news we see stories of the black community being ravaged by sexually transmitted diseases and we hear stories of black people dropping out of school or refusing to work. We hear statistics on the number of black people who live in poverty and the number of black women who bear children out of wedlock and the number of black men who father children with multiple women. We hear all of these things and we come to the conclusion that things would be better for black people if people in the black community would just step up to the plate and just fly right.

We watch our most popular black celebrities condemn other less fortunate black people for being all of the black stereotypes that we learn from watching network news and the various portrayals of black people in popular culture. Black people point the finger at each other for high profile white people feeling the need to call our black sisters nappy headed ho’s. Black people point the finger at each other for the gangsta rap phenomenon because a particular black rapper makes millions while the corporate record company he or she works for makes billions while promoting a lucrative black music stereotype.

We stand by helplessly while black characters on television like the single mother and nurse Julia portrayed by Diahann Carroll and Pete Dixon, the history teacher portrayed by Lloyd Haynes on Room 222 are transformed into today’s black celebrity staples like Everybody Hates Chris where the main character bucks and rolls his eyes in a perfect imitation of an early black minstrel player. Chris Rock’s television namesake follows a long line of black caricature notables such as James “J.J.” Evans, Junior played by Jimmy Walker, Steve Urkel played so well by Jaleel White, and Martin Lawrence who is one of the funniest buffoons of stereotypically black behavior ever to be put on television. Somehow, somewhere along the way, portrayals of the black community have become more blatant as they depict us as a community of losers and we have stood complacent. Some of us have even contributed to the problem.

Instead of black people working together to independently define our community in the type of image we want to be, our community has simply adapted to the dominant culture’s definition of what it means to be a black community. Too many highly talented black people are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder to carry out someone else’s will instead of working to help define the black community’s will.

A person can make a lot of money carrying out the agenda of richer people. To make the most money possible a person should work for the richest person available. The richest people in the land are white people. Therefore, it is only a logical conclusion that a talented black person looking to make the most money with their talent will make more money helping white people define the black experience rather than helping black people define the black experience.

This is not to say that rich white people are sitting around with nothing better to do than to focus on what makes black people black. But whenever black people are being considered for an opportunity in some area, the gatekeepers to the opportunity want to assure that the person being considered is the type of person committed to all of the employer’s objectives at the expense of just about everything else. Too often, our best and our brightest are willing to abandon any hope of black unity to appear as a rebellious independent thinker that eschews the traditional black community and raise their awareness above the point of color lines. But this is little more than a colorful way of saying that they are willing to put any affiliation of blackness behind them and carryout the will of the dominant community leaving the black community weaker and weaker.

There was a time the best black lawyers in the country worked single mindedly for the betterment of the black community. Now they work for the highest bidder. There was a time that the best black doctors in America worked purposefully for the health of the black community. Now they work for the greatest payer. There was a time that the best black teachers worked tirelessly to teach black children. Black businessmen did their best to uplift the black community. There was a time black professionals where the hope of the black community. Those days are long gone. Our talented young black professionals are no longer looking to use their talents for the improving the black community.

These days, black people sit at the bottom of the fictional boiling pot of water just like the proverbial frog. The traditional black community is a shadow of its former self because we have collectively made the choice to adapt to the gradual, incremental changes designed to protect white privilege and minimize any gains made for the pursuit of racial equality. The individual changes were relatively small and easy to adapt to. But for the majority of black people’s perspective, the end result is pretty catastrophic. The black community is just a sad shadow of its former self. Things will go well for those of us who have the talent and willingness to raise our aspirations above the color line. But for the rest of us, either the ones who do not have the resources to separate or the ones who choose to remain inseparable from the welfare of the black community, we adapt to the conditions around us not ever realizing the trouble we’re adapting to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Philosophy, Thoughts | 12 Comments