One of my favorite plays by Shakespeare that touches on themes of jealousy, confusion and trickery – Act 2 Scene 2 from A Midnight Summer’s Dream –
Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport, in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! Most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contriv’d
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,—O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grow together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crowned with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.
The basic plot is one couple who want to to marry Hermia and Lysander who are running away from Hermia’s father to do so. He’d ordered his daughter to marry Demetrius and will either send her to a nunnery or kill her if she’s disobedient. Her friend Helena is in love with Demetrius who dumped her for Hermia and has told him about Hermia’s plan to win his affection. So now he’s chasing after the couple to stop them. In the meantime a third party mistakenly causes further confusion by slipping Lysander a love potion so he abruptly abandons Hermia for Helena.
Was that confusing? That’s the point. It is a farce mind you but what father threatens his daughter with death for exercising free will? What kind of friend sells you out over a guy who doesn’t even want her? Helena is stunned by the sudden reversal of affection for her by Hermia’s would-be husband as well as the guy she threw dirt for returning her interest as well. Karma!
Shakespeare aside we must always be alert for the jealousies of others and those who wish to get us to fall into a trap of mindless self-indulgence or thinking the worst about ourselves.
Hence the mention of derision – contempt for others.
I know there’s a new study from Brandeis University discussing the wealth gap between black and white families in the United States between 1984-2007. It lays out some rather harsh analyses of the lack of generational wealth in stating white families are now five times richer than their black counterparts. There’s no coincidence it jumped after Ronald Reagan took office. While the information has merit there are no solutions being offered. To me this comes across as more navel-gazing from certain whites who wish to exploit black pathology and reinforce hegemony.
While I don’t necessarily disagree with the findings of this study, I’ve also noted it doesn’t clearly define who they determined constitutes a family. So if I have to don a conservative view they’re only polling hetero couples who are married. Well, that automatically eliminates most black women since we know by the last CDC report from 2006 the 70% of out of wedlock birth rate applies.
Also, my other pet peeve is the lumping of all under the African-American categorization instead of being more mindful of our various ethnicites. I think that would show a greater variance in comparison to the larger argument. It also doesn’t discuss those who’ve emigrated here either legally or illegally. Regardless, my contention is that yes there is the reinforcement of hegemony in favor of the dominant group of whites but blacks should not settle for being written off.
While we discuss the various ways black women have been indoctrinated we must further evaluate this constant bombardment of negativity at a time when small groups can at least mobilize towards the goal of elevation. The message of that study is to say: we win so you might as well give up and die.
There is no mention of any accountability for blacks who have also contributed to the demise of the black community by abandoning it at its most crucial juncture. Nor of the continued decision by many blacks to not be supportive of building an infrastructure that would anchor a majority. There’s no discussion of the lack of ethnic pride or discipline for why the black community as a whole doesn’t sustain itself.
It always amazes me that those who know they have outside aggressors would choose to seek out, work with and give resources to those aggressors to be accepted as the exception, instead of working within. For it isn’t solely because some other group blocked one group’s access; they were united in working together for their own benefit and have done so since they arrived on these shores.
Other groups have also faced the wrath of those who sought to dominate like Japanese- Americans. They had all of their land, bank accounts, homes, etc legally stolen by the government and forced to live in camps where they were horribly treated. Look at how that community as a collective is thriving today.
Despite all of the evil and selfish intentions of others we have survived many horrible circumstances that would have completely destroyed any other group. Those with the will to survive and thrive simply have to muster up the courage to push past this.
Going back to the Moynihan Report (yeah I know) it was plainly stated in 1965 how certain choices would result in the demise of the collective but the rise of individuals. Since the warnings were ignored it has come to pass. That Brandeis report only restates the same thing.
The best option for those who want to be the exception while keeping their dignity and ethnic pride intact is to continue taking steps toward elevating oneself on an individual basis. Despite the doomsday studies – which shouldn’t be ignored – but responded to in ways that benefit others. Be it through education, starting a business, marrying, moving to another country or winning the lottey (I kid) do whatever it takes. Find those who are willing and able to assist you on your journey and throw out a few spare crumbs (advice, encouragement) on the path to help sustain others.
It is our obligation to not WAIT for others to treat us well, to share their wealth, do the right thing, etc as our SOLE means of life navigation. We have to go after what we want, no matter how difficult that journey may be and be willing to experience where it leads us. It may just grant us entrance to that mythical Promised Land place we’ve heard so much about!