I spent some time yesterday with some folks that reinforced in my mind a few things. One is that a lot of people never even bother to try to put themselves in the shoes of another. While failing to acknowledge that their perspective is shaped by who they are and their own life’s experiences, they presume no other perspective exists and, worse, that even if it does, their own perspective is superior. I think that’s the literal definition of arrogance, and along with stupidity, it is a trait I least admire in people.
From arrogance stems the idea two things that I witnessed yesterday: the tendency to exaggerate – or tell outright lies – and the tendency to speak about things with which the speaker has no knowledge. In one of my favorite quotes, Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” The problem is that a lot of folks don’t have the knowledge themselves to determine the veracity of a statement. When someone makes a claim that is patently false, it is accepted as truth. A little knowledge – by the speaker or the hearer – is truly a dangerous thing.
Another thing reinforced in my mind yesterday is that sexism is alive and well. And the sexism of some black men is more than alive and well – it’s over the top. You would think that black men – of all people – would get the discrimination thing. Far too many don’t.
Finally, I don’t know when, exactly, America lost its sense of community – that we’re all in this together – and replaced it with an “I’ve got mine, you’ve on your own to get yours” attitude. What I do know is that it is no longer a part of the way that many of us think. And, as Carter G. Woodson wrote back in 1933, it has penetrated the consciousness of the so-called “educated” black folk.