Naturally I cannot speak of Black people as one homogeneous body. A great deal of diversity exists within our community in the areas of political and religious ideology, profession, income, education level, fashion, sexuality, etc. Yet, despite our urge to melt in the melting pot, we are a culturally distinct people with discernible issues and interests. And while it takes no genius to identify the most self-defeating things we do or believe, it does require someone with a degree of courage and thick skin. Given these qualifications, I volunteer for the job. …
That said, I’ve identified the following ten beliefs or practices we need to kill and bury immediately. And for those who warn against “airing dirty laundry,” I reply with Bill Cosby’s infamous words, “Our dirty laundry is revealed every weekday at 3pm.”In other words,our dirty laundry is already revealed through our children and our own very public and conspicuous practices.
10 BELIEFS/PRACTICES KILLING THE BLACK COMMUNITY
- Conspicuous consumption. For example, the 80,000 diamond-draped Barbi Doll Jay Z and Beyonce purchased for their one year-old child. The power entertainment couple can afford to do this. But when most of us regular folk waste money like this, we jeopardize our chances of accumulating real wealth and instead contribute to our own poverty. Ironically, we also tend to enrich people and businesses that don’t respect/value us.
- Time mismanagement: Everyone has 24 hours in a day. But we all don’t use our time wisely. What results are tons of missed opportunities, plans that never materialize, and ultimately, a wasted life.
- Loose and inadequate parenting
- Tendency to place emphasis or value on insignificant things.
- Consumption of too much garbage television, music, music and literature
- Failure to value and organize around race and class
- Confusion around the purpose of education and politics.
- Poor diet, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Because I suffered a stroke just last week, this one is especially relevant for me. Too many of us die from hypertension and other preventable factors. Better to de-stress, stop smoking, drinking liquor and eating high-fat foods than to become paralyzed, unable to speak or dead.
- A Tendency to live life vicariously through “celebrities” rather than developing and improving ourselves. If we invested half the time we spend following Housewives shows, into developing our own skills and experiences, such shows would no longer hold appeal for us
- Living life spontaneously rather than strategically. Impulsive and short-sighted decisions lead to unfulfilled and disappointed lives, We must plan and work toward the lives we want.
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and protest. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.