I’m anticipating to write an extended essay about the issues most concerning black Americans and their communities. The subjects are typically those concerns of the poor [i.e. poverty, education, crime, police officers, etc.] and I aim to discuss why that primary focus is problematic too. So I’m gathering a collection of books, typically those that are of the popular canon of ‘black thought’ on such subject matters. Or rather the accepted authority on this subject matter in opposition to my own alternative thoughts. As I gather books I read to find the key points and topics that are related to this extended essay.
Yesterday I decided to read the most recommended and awarded text of this date: Between the World and Me authored by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Actually I skimmed through the text, as it is rather short and can easily be done, and found that I was not impressed. Do not become mistaken here, I skim then I read a book first. The initial captivation among the pages are what confirms my need to purchase, to read, then to recommend to others. I can only read of what I have skimmed if it is profound or simply interesting. I’ve found neither adjectives are appropriate for this book. Perhaps, as all others, being poetic with their ‘blackness’ may captivate an audience that are the same and those that are white Americans and liberal-minded. However that is all and nothing else.
Of course it was written in a time where police homicides of black Americans took the nation by storm. People are emotional, calling it the greatest crime against black American males from years past to this date. Though emotional, basically an appeals to emotions, the statistical data proves otherwise. Black American males are more likely a victim of intraracial crime than they are to be a victim of interracial crime or to be killed by a police officer. As well, white Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans are largely ignored whenever the discussion of police killings surfaces on mainstream media. The majority killed police officers this year and last year alone have been white Americans. However, it is more profound if we discuss the statistics based on groups or ‘per rate’. Still in doing so we largely ignore that Native Americans are effected more so than black Americans. That is what I mean that it is an emotional appeal and one used tirelessly in the discussion of ‘black thought’-the center of attention ignoring the plights of all others.
There is something about ‘black thought’ that always needs to be poetic and to appeal to emotions. Or to over exaggerate a claim and to assume a collective mindset on all issues, whether all black Americans face them equally or at all. I do not find this common tendency in almost every essay, or every book about issues concerning [some] black Americans, profound or interesting. I too have studied black American history, U.S. history, the history of me and my being here. I enjoy it and continue to read. Though I do not appropriate the pain of my ancestors as that is insulting compared to my far more privileged life and life of freedom. Though I grew up in a rural area I never assume that poverty and the issues that become of those existing in urban areas are similar to my own. Poverty in rural areas is different compared to poverty in urban areas and I cannot falsely assume to relate to those that have an entirely different experience. Or what I am saying here, I refrain from using black Americans as a collective whenever discussing police shootings and killings and all other issues. That would be false to do so, and to give a false impression to others about the experiences of black Americans as individuals. As well it is simply an appeals to emotions to do so. I can discuss my experiences without included the entirety of black Americans who may have or usually have not experienced the same life. And I can do so without the poetic rhyme.
In writing this future extended essay I have to keep an open mind. To include Coates and other like him that all write in a rather similar manner, I must understand their thoughts. Why is it a common way to speak of issues pertaining to some black Americans this way? Why do they always assume a collective experience extending to all black Americans? For instance, his text in referring to the police killing of Eric Garner: “And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings…All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible.” A collective experience and notion assumed to be the thoughts and concerns, even the experiences of all. To the last statement, why is it common to make a claim based on limited observation; an assumption without facts? I remember around the time Michael Brown was killed, the tension had continued ’til December where I read that ‘police officers are never held accountable’. I retorted with, well it depends on the circumstances of the event and the evidence found. Since within that same month a local news source reported a police officer sentenced to time in prison for his crime against a black woman. Unfortunately I do not remember the details to that particular news story, but to make a ‘never’ claim on the basis of limited observation is quite common. So I ask ‘why’. To ask is to read, and that requires me to read their thoughts.
So, I’m looking forward to reading those differences in thought processing. In doing so I will provide a proper book review of each book I am thinking to include for my extended essay.