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The Epidemic of Cotton Candy: The slow burn

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will not announce this fatal epidemic of dreams deferred.

By Don Allen, Publisher 

According to author Malcolm Gladwell, the philosophy of a social epidemic is based on three rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context. Gladwell contends these rules offer a way of making sense of epidemics. The Law of the Few is a law about the structure of our social network and how messages are passed through word of mouth. The Stickiness Factor is a law about the actual informational content and packaging of a message. The Power of Context is a rule about the environment in which a message spreads. Some black folks have little to no informational content, nor can they spread messages in order to connect to obtain relevant information in real time that would assist in critical problem solving. This epidemic, as author James A. Baldwin pointed out could be the paradox of education, “That as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” It is a two­fold message: Attempting to understand the true concept of why skin color is a factor in success, and many black academic leaders who should be addressing issues of civil rights, education and race continue to be silent.

Any community that festers a lethal mixture of benign neglect with deadly silence will create a cognitive obstruction of progress where the art of problem solving will never be reached; and the conflict never solved. Sometimes this neglect is by design. This is when the dissolve of cotton candy starts to burns. As we sit in the circus of life, dissolving small pieces of cotton candy in our minds, it seems at some point, the map to progress and success, written by our literary predecessors have not been followed.

History repeats itself.

Society’s definition of the black plight, defined by their status quo, has always been for people of color to start over from the beginning, while others are able to pick up where they left off. The evolution of a black reality is seeded deep in nothingness while sending us backward to a time when codes dictated what a black man, woman, child or student could be. Today, this means more high school and college drop outs, mass incarceration of black men, a runaway achievement gap and unemployment numbers for African Americans that remain higher than those of any other race. Unfortunately, any “gap” in any other community would be addressed at the first sign.

This is part of the epidemic called “Law of the Few.”

Let’s step back in history. In 1865, the Mississippi Black Codes were established to limit the newly found freedom of blacks in the south. Both freed blacks and those under the Black Codes were forced into cheap labor, denied education and denied legal rights. Today, the struggle to qualify as being a part of America has taken its toll on black people. To no avail, we still are considered a second­class, cut­rate and mostly ignored group of people unless government funding is available to take a deeper look into why we are presumed dysfunctional. America’s first black president has also abandoned not only his blackness but by choosing class separation with the assumption of color blindness in his affiliations with Dr. Henry Lewis Gates and he (Obama) having a beer as if Gates is the only black American ever affected by police misconduct, the the issues of blacks in black America don’t seem like a priority for this lame duck president now or in his first term.

Of course one could argue if President Obama even looked in the direction of black plight, members of the right, and some black people would consider it an act of treason.

From the failure of Reconstruction in the late 1800s to the mass incarceration of black Americans today, black Americans are faced with several progress stopping and extremely violent and important concerns:

  • Things are not getting any better;
  • The American Dream bypasses poor communities;
  • Blacks are being systematically “edited” by American culture;
  • Those African Americans who have been assigned the mission of moving the black agenda forward have become a voiceless and dysfunctional part of American society dependent on white guilt; and
  • Academic leadership, stuck hopelessly with no voice inside educational institutions across academia is the driver that will cause the silent death of black America.

It is clear that the African American community is in bad shape and the national political leadership has sold out its black constituents.

This part of the epidemic is called “The Stickiness Factor.”

To look at the imbalance with data, we need only to review the U.S. Labor Department reports on unemployment in the minority community. The rate of no opportunity was at 12.7 percent when President Obama initially took office. As the employment rate for the nation dropped below eight percent, black unemployment increased to 12.9 percent and then to 14 percent for December. In some states like Minnesota, the unemployment rate has climbed reaching into the 20 percentile for black Minnesotans while according to the the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), non­black unemployment numbers stayed in the single digits ranging from seven to nine percent. What does this say about the power and voice of a people and the Dream?

Everyday, black Americans are being defined. It doesn’t matter if its on a bus stop, in a car, at work, in the unemployment line or on a college campus. Blacks are defined mostly by those who don’t look like us–but have the power to create a destiny for us which should be viewed as an unfair misrepresentation to anyone with the cognitive skills of people relations.

While some black leaders only talk of reparations, Native Americans have had benefits from their reservation casinos. The Jewish community made it a point to have a Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany to pay Israel for the slave labor and persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, and to compensate for Jewish property that was stolen by the Nazis. The lone African, or black person has been left outside of the awards for the black Holocaust. The black reparation is far from the American Dream and closer to Cotton Candy ­airy and fast dissolving.

We sit, waiting to be called off the bench in a world that will erupt in violent fury once the minority becomes the majority. Like a thief in the night, education and the need to address “diversity” across the United States before it becomes an in­ your ­face reality.

This part of the epidemic is called “The Power of Context.”

Albert Einstein said, “There is a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am dearly conscious, but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of ‘Whites’ toward their fellow­citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out. Racism is America’s greatest disease and Racism is a disease of the white man.”

As the street music plays on and the big ferris wheel turns high in the sky, if dealing with life­ altering definitions of self and the perception of others, tearing away at a piece of cotton candy, letting it dissolve slowly in your mouth now only seems to burn.

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