One does not easily go against the grain in the black community without risking serious repercussions and penalties, including excommunication from blackness.

Within the African-American community, often ones 'blackness' has nothing to do with ones blood connections but on ones adherence to popular group thought. This form of tribalism turns the African-American community into a monolithic presence that thwarts progress by painting individuals into a 'black' corner where only opinions supportive of the status quo are allowed.

Curiously, it is a form of Orwellian thought policing that comes to the surface after the fact when those who have stepped across the undrawn lines of the "black monolith" face public castigation for having the nerve to think differently or to think—PERIOD. These unwritten rules, which are subject to change without notice, fit popular ideas of "how to be black." Unfortunately, there is no written rulebook and those who break these unwritten rules find themselves excommunicated from "blackness" without prior notice.

What it means is that you or I cannot speak our minds without the fear of disparagement, not because we are right, but because we had the nerve to say something that goes against the party line of the "black monolith." The power of groupthink is not to be underestimated. For instance, only in the black community do people shudder when something terrible happens and say silently to themselves, "I hope it wasn't anyone black."

When the bombing in Oklahoma City occurred, white people weren't whispering to themselves about the skin color of the perpetrator; they had a variety of opinion and they voiced them—right and wrong. However, in the black community there was an underlying fear that it would be a "black person" and that somehow all black people would suffer as a result.

Blacks unfairly cast as villains are not the issue. The problem is that as long as we cast ourselves as a monolithic presence we will bring the same judgment upon the group rather than alleviating such direct focus. That there is strength in numbers is certainly true to a degree, but there is no strength in a wrong answer and no amount of addition will ever change it.

Today it seems that blackness is more a series popular stances espoused by favored public figures rather than a state of mind or logical thought process. This form of tribalism does not allow us to apply fair critique to our own no matter, how insipid, vapid or just plain stupid some of the things are they do. It is in our interest to criticize and question those who claim to represent us, which includes any policies and processes that may affect us.

A commonness of skin color often leads many to make assumptions about the black community that are incorrect, but help to perpetuate stereotypes within the community itself. Religion and politics are two topics of conversation that most avoid, but in this case, they are appropriate to use as examples. To many in the African American community, a black Republican seems to be an oxymoron, for many assume that all African Americans are Democrats. Of course, it is not true, but the fact remains that a black Republican is an aberration in the African American community, and is in fact often treated as a traitor to the race. The same thought applies to atheists and agnostics within the black community.

Often, the culture of "blackness" does not reward individualism outside "accepted" group norms, as witnessed by the sometimes acrimonious debate between black scholars regarding affirmative action. Blacks taking an anti-affirmative action stand are regularly labeled as Uncle Toms, Oreos and traitors without a thorough and reasoned investigation.

Race and racism turn any discussion of stereotypes into a sensitive subject in the African American community. However, many African Americans would be surprised to know that they use many of the same stereotypes to characterize each other that would be considered offensive if used by whites. The use of these stereotypes by African Americans is used in an almost unconscious manner to establish standards of behavior for other African Americans.

At first glance this setting of standards seems relatively harmless, but when it is considered that to hold individuals to a single standard restricts all and may be even more harmful, for it makes artificial barriers with the sole criterion based on looking the same and thus reinforces the idea of a "black monolith."

That any black man or woman is able to think beyond the moment, articulate complex ideas beyond sports and sex comes as a surprise to many Americans, especially many African Americans. Many people of African descent can't dance, sing or play dominos either and they may also be affluent, Republican and have never tasted a chittlin' in their life. Neither are all black folks afraid of the dark, criminally oriented or Baptist.

For everything, there is a season. There is a time when black people must unite to fend off oppression. There is a time when if we are not united, then being divided, we will fall. However, there is also a time when every African American must stand as an individual.

It is past time for African Americans to allow themselves to be judged solely as a monolithic presence, where the action of one is interpreted across the group, where everyone is painted with the same brush or where having a different opinion is looked upon as blasphemy and treason. It is time we celebrated our own diversity in the black community and use it to build better bridges to prosperity, faster highways to freedom and sturdy thoroughfares to self-reliance.

For everything, there is a season and the season for breaking free of the "black monolith" is now. Fight the Power!

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Comment by Alice on April 3, 2011 at 10:53pm
Mate, you’ve still got lots of brain cells – don’t worry about that : )

We are all reacting to each other as time goes by. The fact that we have met here and interacted is a causal factor in our continuing reactions to life.

I like encountering difference – to myself – meaning that I like to have conversations with people who have very different life experiences and perspectives and developed notions of being than I do myself. As I think it opens my mind to other possibilities, not before considered.

For me this leads to more tolerance of difference and more compassion for others in the world generally. I think it a good thing to mix with humans far and wide.

When I think about other motivations – I think that it helps me to help others who might be in pain due to their limited thinking on a subject – due to their limited world view and experience.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 3, 2011 at 10:36pm

I killed all my brain cells years ago. Now, I only comment on areas I can can help people open or close their minds. No, I should have on the areas I think are important. I believe people can change if they have time, but the qualifier is--how much time? Traumatic memory is a great changer of minds if there is time to ruminate. To much time can rechange minds just as well. People are pliable given time, otherwise we are reactionary beings, responding to the circumstances based on experience or lack thereof, reflexes and fear.
Comment by Alice on April 3, 2011 at 8:08pm

Hi Don,


I don’t know the full implications of what you are talking about here when you talk about belief and behaviour – but I have a strong suspicion about it and believe that I’ve had such ideas myself in the past from being a teenager and glimpse again as time goes past.


I wonder if it’s to do with being really ruled by our none verbal brain – based on the theory that we have 3 separate brains that have different function, and our conscious brain with language only deals with one aspect of our action.  But the main primal instinctual actions centres of the brain don’t have language – and in other tests I’ve seen about – the man who mistook his wife’s head for a hat – when they cut the brain in half they found that one half would simply make up stories about what the other half had done and it’s motivation for doing so.


In other words, we have a whole lot of intellectualisation about what we do in life, but really we just find ourselves un-consciously responding and acting from our primal brain, whilst our conscious language brain retrospectively assumes why such things have happened.


Therefore it wouldn’t much matter what my beliefs about the world were – as I would still simply respond on an instinctual level.  Therefore from the outside, without the use of language we wouldn’t see or understand this complex reasoning.


Perhaps another reason why humans of another language group to our own can appear more primitive that ourselves – not because they are – but because we don’t hear their intellectual reasoning and only see their behaviours – I’ve heard such comments from Asian people regarding Caucasians, early Caucasian anthropologists on Indigenous groups and other combinations of observation cross language groups with similar (ignorant and simplistic but apparent) conclusions.


In other words, we aren’t actually consciously aware of or in control of our behaviours and our believes only have a superficial causal effect on our actions or our ‘real’ or more strong motivations that come from a more primal instinctual and non verbal part of the brain.


I’ve also experienced altered states on consciousness with drugs and alcohol where I see my own family and friends from such a perspective – leading me to see more their instinctual behaviour without the window dressing of intellectual interpretation to influence my vision.


LOL – yes, well I too can attest to the fact that many atheists are living a ‘good’ life, where they are kind to themselves and others and have care.  It’s the intellectualisation of christianity that removes them from their actions and causes them to believe that because they go to church they can do nothing wrong, and so remain ignorant of their contradiction and hypocrisy.


Like you say, sometimes it’s worth looking at what is – rather than looking at intellectualisations.  I’m pretty good at crapping on about what’s right and just and good in the world – but when I look at my actions, I can see that I get angry and shout and sware at my kids and sit around on the computer all day talking shit – whereas this is in contrast to my desire to have a life of loving my kids and being fit in mind AND body.


But I suppose it comes down to entertainment for me – I like mental entertainment – perhaps due to the old theory of – use it or loose it – they worked out that those who didn’t use their minds were more likely to get dementia – not sure if that is chicken and egg scenario or whether there is something in it – and I’m simply driven by my primal mind to seek out intellectual stimulation.  I don’t get out much! LOL


Good hearing your life perspective and talking with you… : )


Re changing the book name – I’ve just been in a discussion about making a difference and counterfactual none actual possibilities for the past week or so – and so really according to necessitarianism we don’t have any none actual possibilities and so christianity can’t make a difference anyway, as it’s not a logical possibility based on determinism.  But, because people have the ‘feeling’ of ‘choice’ and the illusion of contra causal free will, they do indeed believe that making a difference is a real possibility and not just a none actual possibility in theory in our imaginations.  Therefore saying that christianity doesn’t make a difference is true, but might serve to support the illusion of contra causal free will in most people who are subject to this illusion – thereby overlooking the actuality of determinism.


Yes, Don, I like the new name – you might want to consider the whole 3 types of brain thing too – meaning that we think we’re doing one thing, but actually we’re just following our instincts and then retrospectively justifying what we do.


Alice : )


Good hearing your life perspective and talking with you… : )

Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 3, 2011 at 8:28am
Alice! I just gave myself an idea. I might change the book's name to "That's Why They Play the Game: Christianity, the Paper Champion." Okay, it was just a fleeting thought. LOL! Don
Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 3, 2011 at 8:24am
Alice: As you surmised, I don't need to say it. Just look at what we do. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. In fact, my new book is precisely about that, "Belief & Behavior: the Failure of Christianity to Make a Difference." I had to get a plug in there about it because it will be released this summer. Okay, back to the business at hand. Look and the numbers and you will see Mammon is the God of many Americans and whatever is in second place is so far behind it's not even in a distant wide angle shot. Much is said about this being a Christian country, but the operative words in that phrase are "being said." As they say in this country, "That's why they play the game," a reference meaning that anyone can claim to be a champion and that is why "they play the game," to see if it's just talk or the "real thing." another reason many atheists are hated is many live out the "Christian" lifestyle better than those claiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jealousy! LMAO!
Comment by Alice on April 2, 2011 at 10:07pm
Hey Don,

Great to meet you and know your name : )

Are you saying that in the US people tend to value money over most other things that others in the world might value differently? : )

Yes, there’s not point begging that someone change their values on your account so as you might eat, sleep comfortably or gain any other special treatment in life from them for free. We are all responsible to make our own way. This is perhaps one way of determining intelligence – our ability to make use of our circumstances to meet our needs – better still to meet not only our own needs but the needs of those around us in addition.

Are you saying that the common American dream is to be a millionaire – and that because this is the main value – that people play games in order to reach this ultimate goal – of which only a few can actually achieve?

It is therefore a false goal for most and therefore to my mind, not something that holds much weight or value – as it’s only a narrow margin that I might gain this destiny. I therefore choose to value other things, than just money – but I value things based in a more ancient time – before these concepts arrived. I always, try to imagine what life was like for hunter gatherers or early humans – and then wonder what their values were?

We live a lot in our imaginations and constructs of what is – rather than what is in the reality in front of us.

Meeting our basic needs is important to enjoyment of life – food, shelter, love, clothes, respect, community, and so on. These are the things I value for myself and others. It’s unfortunate and I’m sad when I hear you say that you don’t meet many that hold these values over their desire to be rich.

You must be talking here of the GFC – I think this caused many people to loose their basic needs of food shelter and so on… sad. Perhaps you think that if they valued their basic needs more than they valued money then, they wouldn’t have had the GFC?
Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 2, 2011 at 9:23am
Alice--My name is Don Ramon Barbera I forgot you asked. I am hardly shy, it was just an oversight
Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 2, 2011 at 9:15am

My comment is part sarcasm and part reality. In the US money talks and bullshit walks. If you don't understand that basic principle in this country, disappointment will live at your door step. It is a sad commentary, but after living here nearly all of my life, I sometimes forget and then rudely reminded when I lean to my altruistic side. Who wants to be a millionaire? Everone in the country and if you are not helping them get it, you aren't worth the effort. I don't play games well and that is part of the reason I am on this page. I'm sure you are well aware of the US focus on money. All you have to do in case yiu've forgotten is look back two years ago see how money, or in this case greed, betrayed us all.

Comment by Alice on April 1, 2011 at 11:10pm
Hi Minute,

You seem to be saying that money is important to change or power or status in terms of American culture?

Interesting that you think money. When you say money I think of Robert Kiyosaki – that guy from Hawaii who writes books about how rich people make and keep their wealth – and encourages us ‘poor’ people to do the same. If you do the maths, there’s only so many people can be rich in a ratio with the poor who do the work. I’m not sure if his scheme works – I wonder if it’s not more to do with connections – who you know, rather than what you know – and also we are so conditioned by our culture that even with knowledge of how to get rich, we are still caught in our behaviours of being ‘poor’.

I relate more to your quote of religion being an opiate – I think TV is an opiate too. It enculturates us to fantasies and myths that keep us occupied whilst, like you say, those of wall street suck us all dry.

You say that your culture likes to hold you back – but you find yourself here on nexus – do this give you more opportunity to move forward? Or do you still find your community rejects you for your choices?

A great quote here was posted in another forum:
8. Albert Einstein: Ethical Behaviour Should be Based on Sympathy, Education
"[A scientist] has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death"
Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 1, 2011 at 10:44pm
Alice--I learned long ago that nothing happens in this country without a show of faith--money! When it costs money, you succeed in gathering attention, but that's all. When the cost is continual you get attention by being bought off, actually making a change or sleeping with fish. Clearly, as Marx said, "religion is the opiate" of the people. While the capitalists and Wall Street thugs milk the country dry, big business and with help from its staunchest supported, the church keep the religion obsessed masses busy with little entertainments like abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration, and, of course that all-time favorite--Jesus! Give it up for Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

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