The price of opportunity for Black people is relatively high. Few can afford it. For those who can, it means embracing an anti-Black culture. For educators and businesses to tackle the problem of recruiting and retaining Black excellence, perhaps more focus on a supportive environment, including Black culture and not denigrating it, might yield unimaginable success.
The universal notion that Black people are unqualified permeates the work environment as well as society. Regardless of degrees and experience, Black people must continually prove their right to be employed, be successful, and sometimes even exist. Every environment change requires Black people to prove they are qualified all over. Combined with racial harassment, often referred to as microaggressions, it leads to a toxic work environment and a host of mental and physical illnesses. We need to research to understand risk factors and protective factors to reduce anti-blackness ideologies’ damaging impact.
To be Black is to have your self-worth attacked daily in profound realms.
The price of professional opportunities outside of sports and entertainment means becoming the only Black person in the room. Losing your identity to a culture that uses Blackness as a scapegoat is a mind game equivalent of gaslighting. When you are typed cast in a stereotype, over time, you become that stereotype. We get stuck in a cycle of trying to prove our intelligence to an audience that sees Black excellence as a threat to their lifestyle. We should be building a robust infrastructure for Black survival.
Colin Kaepernick taking a knee for the National Anthem outraged fans. It became his last season playing football. When the Texans and Chiefs took a moment of unity for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, the crowd booed. As part of his re-election campaign, Trump’s use of racism to stoke white fear of Black Americans is an old reliable trick that always works.
Eventually, Black excellence succumbs to a chronic toxic culture that permeates every professional work environment and society. Many lose empathy, especially for others that look like them. Too many develop health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. Then they are those who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Is Black excellence equivalent to drinking’ the Kool-Aid?’ In other words, there is no such thing outside of sports and entertainment? White people pound their chests, telling tales of self-made successes. They scold and tell us we are lazy. Forgotten are 400 years of slavery that forced our ancestors to help build this country and create the generational wealth many whites elites enjoy. Forgot their white ancestors’ brutality, that kept Black people living in fear and shackles. White people forget how the FBI systematically killed our civil rights leaders, creating a black leadership vacuum. They forget about Black Wall Street and other such stories of white resentment leading to White people burning, looting, and mass shootings against Black communities. Black people lost everything they owned, and many lost their lives, and no one was accountable.
White people ignore their successes occurred in an environment supportive of their values. They downplay the significance of privilege to white success.
White privilege is about an environment that supports white success and understands white failure at the expense of Black life. Police brutality and mass incarceration are the public health crises of white failure. In many ways, anti-blackness produced the foundational materials for white privilege.
Opportunities don’t come easy for Black folks. We pay a high price to be ridiculed and questioned with suspicion. Shouldn’t we look at whether those opportunities are worth the price and health risks? Perhaps, it’s time we invest in our foundation and our future.