“I also think there is a lack of understanding about what’s needed for success. We expect things on the fly. We expect things quickly, we expect results faster. Hard work is something that is hard to come by.”
We talk about these issues within our society. My organization focuses on men only. We would consider ourselves a roundtable of wise men. We talk about disparities between all different races, then try to figure out ways to gain the interest of African Americans, in terms of getting involved with communities and voting and so on.
I expressed my frustration with the complacency I’ve noticed with our people. They feel as if they just don’t have time or they can’t get involved. I personally think it’s fear.
When you look at the ‘60s and how many people were murdered due to their involvement with civil rights and, of course, the convergence of human rights, a lot of people went missing, or were found dead or were imprisoned for speaking out. And I think that history has proven folks have gotten a little afraid of speaking out. I think people have decided to keep their mouths shut.
I know within the African American community, during the civil rights movement, when we were trying to acquire freedoms and certain liberties, there was this thing called the Talented Tenth out of New York. You had 10 percent who were provided opportunities to attend school and educate themselves outside of their community. They were supposed to come back and teach the rest, the 90 percent, and unfortunately, they didn’t. In terms of getting people involved in organizations and stuff like that. People just don’t want to get involved and they just don’t want to help other people. They don’t want to reach back. Leadership, mentorship, a lot of those functions disappeared since the ‘60s.
I want to say that fear is a primary reason, but I do believe there are some second and third and fourth reasons, like say, for instance, greed. I also think there is a lack of understanding about what’s needed for success. We expect things on the fly. We expect things quickly, we expect results faster. Hard work is something that is hard to come by. Hard working individuals are something that’s hard to come by. I think we as a culture have handed off moral values for selfish gains.
Rap doesn’t denote anything any different. Some of their messages denote rise and come up: I worked hard to get to this point, and so should you. At the same time you don’t see, you don’t hear a whole lot of their messages talking about reaching back. They talk a lot about, “I drive nice cars. I have a crib would make your mama cry over.” But they’re not helping.
Some individuals are complacent with their positions in life. They might smoke a little weed, they do certain things, go to clubs. They’re single. They’re not looking to get married. They have other women around that they either have children with, or multiple women. They’re comfortable with their position. Rather than progression, they decided that their stagnant situations are more comfortable than a higher education than progressing in their own personal lives, period.
After the ‘60s, I don’t know what happened. What was the turning point? What made it to the point that people decided to not even try anymore? That’s something we’re still trying to figure out. I know there’s lack of education in terms of educating our children of our heritage, our culture, what we’ve come through. A lot of older, more wise and seasoned individuals have dried up with the stories. They don’t share civil rights movement stories as often as they used to. You have a certain select that want to fight, but most people have decided just to leave it where it is.
BarberShop Talk is to bridge the gap, of all cultures of men, from 8 to 80. It’s a structured forum. We pose questions. They’re open-ended questions which promote discussion. We’re going to ask hard questions. Sometimes these questions might hit you deep. We want to stir up the soul. We want to ask the hard questions. We want hard answers. We want you to talk about whatever is on your mind.
Numbers are what is going to change things. It’s not going to be one Martin Luther King anymore, one Malcolm X, one race, one group of people. It’s going to be everyone working together. When we have all these different disparities going on in our culture, we all live here on planet Earth. This is our home. We’re not going anywhere. We can continue killing each other off, or we can aspire to be a better civilization. And until we understand that concept the disparities are going to continue to grow no matter what we do.