By James Clingman
How amazing it is that black people in this nation, collectively, are the worst off but yet the most comical, entertaining, ostentatious, and self-defeating of all other groups. It is striking how, in spite of all the negative aspects of our lives, we spend a great deal of our time living vicariously through the lives of superstars and mega-heroes. They say “Ignorance is bliss,” so maybe we should use that phrase to our advantage by reporting the other side of the bad stuff we face.
For example, according to police, Chicago’s murder rate is down 20 percent from last year. According to the Urban League Report, black people are “optimistic” about the economy. At least the cops in L.A. didn’t kill the woman on the expressway. The FCC and some Black Caucus members’ attempt to kill “net neutrality” will not take away our Twitter accounts.
The black unemployment rate is no longer half of the national rate, having fallen from 12 percent to 11 percent. Poverty statistics indicate that 60 percent of black people are not poor, and 60 percent of the 2.1 million men in prison are not black. Even though we are at the bottom politically and economically, a black family is still in the White House. Feelin’ better?
Because our blissful state of mind is so pronounced, I suggest publishing a report titled, “The State of Black Euphoria” It will permeate our collective psyche, and through it we could look at the other side of the negative stats we always hear. Maybe that would entice us to do more for ourselves instead of languishing in a festering heap of apathy.
It seems we are numb to 80 shootings in one weekend in Southside Chicago. “Well, that’s just the way it is;” “Ain’t nuthin’ we can do about it;” “These kids today are just crazy.”
We have become immune to the fact that black people in this country are at the bottom of every good category and at the top of every bad one. “The man got his foot on my neck;” “I can’t get no job;” “Ain’t no use; the deck is stacked against me.”
We are immersed in a fantasy world of feel-good rhetoric and empty promises from our black political leaders. “We know he’s a crook, but he’s our crook;” I know they haven’t done anything for black people, but neither has anyone else;” “Yeah, but did you see the Prez sink that three-point shot?” “That gown the First Lady wore was slammin!”
Since nothing else seems to work, let’s use our euphoria to move us forward because the bad stuff is too hard to take and only makes us more complacent in our misery. The almost daily shootings and murders in Chicago, Cincinnati and other cities are all too real, so let’s focus on the killings in Iraq and Syria and Israel. Instead of actually doing something to stop the children from riding on top of train cars to get into this country, let‘s wait until they get here and then, in a very humane way, house them in concentration camps, that is, if they don’t fall off the train and get killed on the way here.
Black folks are tired of bad news; we don’t want to hear any more. It’s too debilitating. The bad news affects poor and middle-class families, but the good news hardly ever does. So reporting on “The State of Black Euphoria” and pretending we are living in Nirvana might just help us. After all, we can still sing and dance, tell funny jokes, drink top-shelf liquor, and revel in the status of the First Family.
So, here’s some more good news. Even though the price of gasoline is at a six-year high, at least it’s not $5 per gallon–yet; employers added 1.1 million jobs thus far in 2014, most of which are low-pay or part-time; Jay-Z and Beyoncé put on a great show; Oprah is a two-billionaire; the housewives, divas, and award shows are doing well; and black folks’ so-called “buying power” exceeds $1 trillion! Feelin’ good?
So, who is going to take up this gauntlet and publish “The State of Black Euphoria”? It is obvious that all the other reports on “The State of Black America” have not elicited appropriate responses from our people, so maybe we should try to make the best use of our euphoria. It will keep us in a positive state of mind, and even if we miss the mark and fail to “do good,” we will still “feel good.” To borrow a phrase from the president’s State of the Union address, “Brothers and Sisters, the State of Black Euphoria is strong!”
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com.