Community deserts: a black experience.

The lives of people can be determined by the kind of people and things that are in their proximity; we are affected by the people and things that are in our environment. The farther away people live from their doctors the sicker the people become, the farther away they live from their teachers the more ignorant the people become. And the farther away they live from their lawyers the more injustices they will have to endure. The social integration that black people had fought for and “won” has robbed the black communities of their doctors, lawyers, engineers, and intellectuals.

The integration that we had “won” gave us a pyrrhic victory (a victory that comes with great cost and loss); we had lost the well-educated and highly skilled members of our communities because of it. This was not a genuine integration but rather a token integration that had intentionally caused the separation between the blacks who have and the blacks who have not. It was a victory that robbed the black youths of proximity to success and positive influences and at the same time put them into close proximity to failure and negative influences. Children become what they see, they mimic and become those that live within their environment; children cannot become what they do not see. Most poor black youths in the ghettos may have never seen success outside of drug dealers; failure is as much a member of their communities as the people that live right next door to them. Poverty and racial oppression have created community deserts for these youths to live in, they were forced to live in a food desert, financial desert, success desert, and educational desert which produced oases for criminality that led to black on black crimes. These community deserts were not designed to produce doctors, scientists, and other intellectuals, they were designed to produce criminals to feed the prison industrial complex of society.

Pain is an expressive force that cannot be buried nor internalized forever, at some point it will find a channel or channel to express itself. The problem is that the system that had inflicted pain on us for so long has ostracized us and socially distance itself from our pain. Now some of the miseducated, misguided, and self-hating black youths have become master redirectors and redistributors of this pain. They have redirected and redistributed the pain that the system had brought upon them and direct it towards their own black brethren. I have once read a saying that said ” Black people have forgotten how to remember.” Yes, we have “forgotten how to remember,” how to live without pain. We have “forgotten how to remember,” that we were once classified as things (properties) and now we are fighting each other over things. We have “forgotten how to remember,'” that we were comrades fighting for one common purpose — our freedom.

But now we are giving away our freedom and allowing this prison industrial complex society to re-shackle us and sending us back to prisons (enslavement was a form of prison). We black people have to re-learn ourselves, and re-love ourselves; we have to learn to love each other past the pain that we are facing in our lives. And we have to transform these community deserts into fertile homes for our youths so that they can live in an atmosphere of self-love and prepare them to prosper in a society where the odds are stack against them even before they were conceived.


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