Back in the day, I recall sitting in my bosses car listening to Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg on the radio before I went back into my work place. The Queen who graced Detroiters with the “word” each weekday at noon stated that there was a “plague on black men” and that the only way to fight that curse was through obtaining salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ! I did not normally listen to The Queen because I was typically working at the time of her broadcast. That day I had run an errand for my boss which caused me to be in his car. I always have the radio on while I’m driving. I was channel surfing to find some music, as I was riding. For reasons that I did not question at the time, I left The Queen on and listened to her full commentary.
At twenty-five years of age it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of a curse of biblical proportions that only affected black men. As time has moved forward and black on black crime has reached epidemic proportions and as many men are in prison as those leading productive lives, I have come to realize that Martha Jean Steinberg was a prophetess imbued with the divine ability to see the chaos that was encircling black men.
I did know, at age twenty-five, that black men had moved from pyramid builders and conquerors, to the most reviled men on the planet. Over the years, I chose not to contemplate “why” we transitioned from what some might consider a state of grace to the worldwide derision that has been heaped upon us. That is/was too big of a question for any man to try to answer and remains a topic that will not be resolved on this blog.
My chore, my duty, from my perspective, has always been to help improve the collective karma of black men by my good deeds. I know that there are other men like me – GOD fearing, raised in healthy home environments and are dedicated to a life of service – who are making conscious efforts to improve our communities and by virtue of our good deeds are improving our collective lot in life.
Even back in the day, when I heard those prophetic words, I was alarmed but not afraid. I was raised by a GOD fearing woman who knew the value of prayer. My mother instilled beliefs in me, at an early age, that have sustained me throughout my journey. My father taught me courage and I have since learned not to fear what I do not understand. My father’s father came from a culture that helped me to understand, in a rudimentary way, the necessity of working for ‘good’ karma. My father understood. He used to warn me that “what goes around, comes around” which motivated me to be mindful of my treatment of others and to respect the planet, as I moved forward.
As I was writing this, a man walked into a movie theatre and shot seventy people. The man who committed this atrocity has been described in the media as a “typical American boy”. The idea that he is typical of the male that is being raised in small town America is a frightening prospect but is in fact a reality. The atrocities committed in Oklahoma City and Columbine in America’s “heartland” were done by typical American boys.
America the Heartland is raising mindless sociopaths throughout our nations who are incapable of emotions that help them intuit that killing large numbers of people, raping children, beating and or killing their wives, girlfriends, boyfriends or children is wrong. From the day they open their eyes the media assaults them with mindless violence with no remorse displayed by the perpetrators. The television becomes a babysitter that inundates them with violence, mayhem and sexual ambiguity.
Back in the nineties, whenever I went to the home of a friend or relative’s home, the entire family would be sitting in front of a television beating each other virtually senseless on-screen. Not only did the victor kill the on-screen nemesis, he or she was also rewarded with the defeated person’s soul! As a student of psychology I was alarmed by what I was watching and loathed the implications.
In this new century, we are seeing the impact of all of the negative programming that those innocent minds were subjected to. When twentysomething men get angry or believe that they have been slighted they go and buy real weapons and go into public venues and kill at random just like they learned playing video games. But the death and mayhem is real. But is it real to them?
I know that I’m guilty of pop psychoanalysis on many many issues and do so without doing a thousand page dissertation or the benefit of having seven or eight letters behind my name. I do so in the name of old skool empiricism; the study from which all other objective sciences evolved. I made a decision, at an early age, that objective truth was something desirable to obtain. Study at the University helped me understand that truth is relative. Professors caused me to discover that my opinion is as valuable as anyone elses provided I’ve taken time to perform research of my topics and that any supposition that I make can be independently verified.
After stating my objective goals, subjectively, I’ve been black all of my life; I’ve been over six feet tall, since I was twelve. I was co-parented by a large black man who suffered far worse than I for being a large black man. I was raised by a black woman from the south who had experienced things that she never wanted my brothers and I to be subjected to. Between the two of them I learned to live on my feet and not on my knees. I was taught that NO ONE WAS BETTER THAN I and I was beaten into humility to prevent me from ever believing that I am better than anyone. I was taught to humble myself before GOD not man but at the same time to respect all that HE has made. I had my parents and people like Martha Jean to serve as constant reminders of how I should comport myself as a manchild.
I sit here at my laptop trying to figure out why so many younger men and women were not taught those values. I wonder out loud why so many disrespect life especially human life. I don’t have the answer but I do know that if they had MORE GOD and MORE PARENTING they might be less likely to commit atrocities against other people and our planet.
I was raised to be a ‘typical American boy’ but I have been treated as if I were a thug, since I was about fourteen because of my height and color. All I’ve done, since I was twelve is work, pay taxes and vote. I am an American patriot that would give my life to protect my country and my President. What a dichotomy! I know from experience that appearances are rarely what they seem.
The plague that Martha Jean ‘The Queen’ Steinberg foretold affects all men in America. With prayer and dedication to GOD by every conscious man and woman, we may be able to circumvent the evil that has been cast upon us but it will require that we first understand the problem then work at eradicating it. That will require that we change the American dialogue that supports atrocious behavior of the so-called majority. We must redefine what “typical” means from a behavioral perspective and focus on real conduct and understand the pathos that we have come to accept as normative when it is in fact perverse. And may GOD help us.