The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 26, 2007

Race, Adulthood and this Blog

Congratulations to Forest Whitaker for his well-deserved Oscar for “Last King of Scotland.” A terrific movie which follows a certain standard pattern: the white guy gets laid every which way, the black guy gets no play at all. No wonder America loved it…
And for those just joining this particular discussion, no, I’m not really that concerned with the “black guys don’t get laid in movies as often as white guys” statistic in and of itself. I care because it reveals market pressure, and that market pressure reveals what is REALLY going on in the secret greasy hearts of men. That is: they would like all access to all women, and deny that access to other males. Used to be that the fantasy started at the 1st chakra: non-white males could not survive action/suspense/horror films. Now they can survive, but they can’t have sex without turning off a huge chunk of the white male audience. And functionally, that’s the same thing. After all, if in your dreams, the “Other” doesn’t indulge in reproductive behavior, you’re really hoping they’ll simply die out, aren’t you…?
Back to the question of adulthood. I’ve been asked by several readers what they can do for themselves, in alignment with the principles discussed here, in terms of moving their lives forward. If you’re a writer, it’s a bit clearer. But what if you aren’t? I thought I needed to make some recent private thoughts more public…

I have a sense that the damage created by welfare (especially to the black community) is that it supports an extended childhood. Few of us grow up until it is necessary…and in the black community, the “baby boy” phenomenon, as well as “babies having babies” is horribly out of control. I’d estimate that better than 90% of humanity are really children. I don’t know whether a larger percentage of the black community could be considered such…I really don’t. But one thing I do know is that blacks cannot afford this luxury as much as whites can. Why? If you’re white, and an emotional/spiritual child, society itself is “Daddy.” At the very best, if you’re black, society is “Stepdaddy.” Stepdaddy who abused you a while back, and is in denial about it.

Conservatives can see the bit about welfare’s infantilization, but what they cannot see is the vastly greater damage done by 400 years of slavery and repression, ending only in about 1968. You have a hard time enslaving an adult. So…kill or break the adults, and raise children to never become adults, much as domesticated dogs might be considered immature wolves. Slavery is the domestication of human beings.

So…what is the way out? Human Adulthood, as discussed by Jed McKenna, is a prerequisite and gateway to the state of enlightenment. Blacks post-slavery imitated white behavior, literary pretensions, educational aspirations, acting like “mommy and daddy” as if that would make them full citizens. When it didn’t, the drive for black education lost some steam. I’d say that going to war in WW2 did a hell of a lot more for us than most other behaviors.

Marching up the chakras, you can “awaken the kundalini” from the bottom up, or the heart out. But NOT from the top down. So attempts to heal this gap by intellectual—or even spiritual—meant were doomed to fail. There was no root.

Post WW2, Jews were able to prosecute Nazis. See them hanged, and jailed. Incredibly healing. Adults, especially adult males, must have the option of slaughtering their enemies. They MAY decide to offer mercy, but if they don’t have that option, they are barely recognizable as adults, given world history. Blacks never got even. Not even close.

(And what am I saying is that core “male” energy? Look at what John L. Sullivan, the turn of the century bare-knuckle fighter, was famous for doing. He would walk into a bar, slam his fist on the bar, and yell: “I’m the Great John L., and I can whip any goddam sonofabitch in the world! And America loved him for it. When Ali screamed “I’m the Greatest!” white sports writers excoriated him. Go figure.)

Martin Luther King encouraged us to open our heart space—and THAT was a successful tactic. But please excuse me if I consider that somewhat feminine. It is a warrior tactic in the sense of grasping that it was about the only approach that could work. But denied the opportunity to kill or gain justice, that energy had nowhere to go except to turn in upon itself.

There are no organic rituals of adulthood within the b.c., so what we have are either aped from whites, or are false ceremonies (pregnancy, prison, violence) that FEEL like becoming men and women, but have little relationship to becoming actual adult human beings.

So…all of this is a round-about way of saying that what I may feel we should concentrate on in this blog is that thing which provides the greatest good for the greatest number. That is valuable to individual human beings…male and female, white and black, but which, frankly, is of even more vital importance to the black community because of damaged social and cultural roots, and lack of external support.

I would say that an “Adult” according to the definitions we’ve been playing with, is someone who takes FULL responsibility for their emotions, and their results in the three basic arenas (fitness, career, relationships). They are aware of the inevitability of their own death, and is committed to leaving the world a better place than they found it. They are committed to being scrupulously honest with themselves, no matter how painful it may be. They are motivated by internal values and morality that goes beyond social norms: “beyond good and evil” so to speak. They are not manipulated by what the herd says, and not afraid to speak their truth.

Or to try to put it even more simply:
They take responsibility for their actions, emotions, and results.

I think I’ve always felt something like this, and was disgusted when I myself did not. And while it is certainly possible to become an adult without having money, without having a healthy fit body, and without having a healthy primary relationship, I do believe that those who manage all three of these things cannot do so without being, at the core, honest and responsible people…or walking the road to being so.

If there were a finite number of things I would want to see in the black community that would correct its problems (or be symptomatic of those problems corrected) it would be:

1) Greater inherited wealth than the white community
2) Lower incarceration rate
3) Longer life expectancy
4) Greater percentage of children raised in two-parent families.

And you know what? There isn’t one of these things that wouldn’t come from Human Adulthood. Good for one, good for all. Good for part, good for whole. Black, white, male, female…it all seems to work.
So then, what am I suggesting? This is especially interesting because the state of full human maturation is an essential precursor to Enlightenment. So…whether one’s goals lie in this world or the next, are political, social, physical, financial, creative, or spiritual…the Adulthood concept can get you moving in the right direction. Very cool.
So: my take on this. Choose goals in all three major arenas. WRITE THEM DOWN. Then commit to moving toward them at 1% per week. Daily, meditate and journal on the questions: “What is true?” in each of these three arenas. And “Who am I?” in each of the three. You WILL NOT be able to progress toward these three in a straight line. No. You will ignore one arena, break your promises to yourself, get distracted. THIS IS FINE, and completely predictable. WRITE DOWN the excuses your subconscious uses. Write down all of the crap from your past that comes up as “explanations” and force your subconscious to come up with a new one every time. Trust me: it has limited cleverness. Eventually, you will hit a wall, and have to start telling the truth. And you’ll know that when it starts to hurt.

Adulthood isn’t easy. But, especially if you have children, you MUST accept the responsibility of maturing out of emotional childhood, or your kids, your life, your community are not safe.
Now…does this mean you don’t skip across the parking lot? Enjoy cartoons? Kick back with your friends? Dance in the rain? HELL NO! Here’s the nasty little secret your ego doesn’t want you to know: When you become a true adult, your “inner child” is set free. The joy, energy, creativity, aliveness and sexual energy released is astounding.

Please, don’t take my word for it—come see for yourself. All it costs is everything you’ve got.

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