David Banner Asks: Are You Dead?

The following editorial originally appeared on The Alumni Roundup:If situations dictate actions, what are the consequences of inactivity? This question is more relevant today than it has ever been for the Black community. Here’s another pertinent question, are we a dead people?

How can a people be dead you may ask? If by dead we mean “unresponsive”, no longer “significant”, “stagnant”, “without resonance”, “inactive” or “no longer productive”, can the Black community then be considered dead? Some examples may prove instructive.

The power to define is one of the hallmarks of an independent people. It speaks directly to the issue of control. As a community what or who controls our everyday thoughts and ideas? Are we programmed by the packaged stories and images from the corporate controlled media, which in turn renders us “no longer productive” of our own thoughts? Did we, for example, uncritically swallow the dominant narrative that underscored the coverage of the Haitian earthquake? A narrative that unconsciously suggested that the poverty and blight of the Haitian people were of their own making and had nothing at all to do with the invasions, the oppressive policies and the isolation implemented by Western nations since the very founding of the island nation? In short, did we define our thoughts or did we allow our thoughts to be defined?

Economically, we are surely “stagnant” and “inactive”. While the national unemployment rate is currently around 9%, the official unemployment rate for Black America is at 16%. Add to this that fact that, during the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, Blacks still earn only 62 cents for every dollar earned by Whites. In the face of these stark realities, recent polling shows that (a) nearly 40% of Blacks currently believe that “the situation of Black people in this country” has improved over the last five years and (b) that the Black-White economic gap has gotten smaller (Pew, 2010). What is astounding about these beliefs are the facts that (a) just three years ago, only 20% of Blacks felt that our situation in this country had improved (but nearly twice as many do now) and (b) the Black-White economic gap has continued to increase since 2000. Now, in the last three years, what can account for this drastic divergence of Black opinion from the grim, economic reality? That’s right….. the election of President Obama. So, in effect, the “unresponsiveness” to our dire economic condition and the inability of our bleak financial reality to “resonate” with us is based solely on the election of one Black person to a political office. Is this not a textbook example of a dead people?

In closing, God says in the book of Hosea, “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” My question to you is, are you a seeker of knowledge or a rejecter of it? Do you define your own thoughts and reality or do you have it defined for you? The biggest tool of the powerful are those who refuse to question. Do you educate yourself? Do you empower yourself? Do you question?

While we all were born, and to a degree, remain ignorant, it is the quest to WANT to know that makes you smarter.

Are you dead?