(Readers: Please note the blog about the 5th revolution in the US is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, I think the story will be more meaningful by starting at the beginning.)

Scene: Jordan’s Office

Jordan: “Rock Man, you’re back. Productive week, I assume. What do you have to present?”

Rock Man: “First, I guess I want to thank you for giving me this challenge.”

Jordan: “Guess. What do you mean guess?”

Rock Man: “Well, I’ve often thought about what is required to make the black community more vibrant but no one ever pushed me for details.  Like many people, I’ve been focused on the family. What we needed to do to get better. Addressing problems of the community is different and a more complicated.”

Jordan: “For certain difficult and there no easy solutions. Plus, solutions are likely to take several generations.”

Rock Man: “I’m glad you understand it won’t be easy. The first question I asked myself was ‘How could so many other ethnic groups enter this country at the bottom and within several generations be assimilated? Why haven’t blacks done the same thing?'”

Jordan: “I have my own ideas but what did you come up with?”

Rock Man: “I made a list of possible causes and then went through the list. First on the list is skin color. Being black makes one stand out, especially if you are dark like me. Second is how we arrived in this country – slaves. Third, and this might sound strange, but programs to help blacks have actually created two black communities – one better off and one worse off.”

Jordan: “Interesting observation about programs having unintended consequences. I agree. You have some examples?”

Rock Man: “Probably the most prominent example is the effort to assimilate blacks with better housing and better schools. The unintended consequence has been those efforts ended up destroying the black business community. The black neighborhood merchant was put out of business as black families moved to different locations.”

Jordan: “While the end result of efforts to improve housing and improve schools might seem to have worked, we also have to ask whether the programs destroyed the vibrancy of the black community.”

Rock Man: “Here’s what I know. There are very few, if any, black grocery stores. Few, if any, black dry cleaners. Few, if any, black bars and night clubs. You know there were little Harlem’s throughout the country. Virtually all of those are gone.”

Jordan: “What about farmers? How many black farmers today versus say 50-60 years ago? You grew up on a farm.”

Rock Man: “The entire black farm community in eastern NC is virtually gone. I realize lots of small white farmers are gone too but there are almost no black farms left.”

Jordan: “And what has happened to the black community?”

Rock Man: “For guys like me, who got out, got an education, we’ve moved up the income ladder. For others…and I hate to say this…many have become slaves to either minimum-wage jobs or government programs.”

Jordan: “How are the better-off blacks helping those stuck toward the bottom?”

Rock Man: “Want the truth? Not much as we could. Let me tell you a story — and this is not unusual among higher-income blacks. A few years ago my daughter says to me, ‘Dad, I don’t want to be black anymore.'”

Jordan: “Say that again.”

Rock Man: “You heard it right. Here we are in a really nice neighborhood, private school and my kid’s complaining because she is black.”

Jordan: “What did you tell her?

Rock Man: “She’s heard all the stories about being dirt poor but the stories mean nothing to her, especially about not having a pot to piss in. That is too far removed from reality for her. All she knows is her classmates are white and she is black — and didn’t like it.”

Jordan: “She over it now?”

Rock Man: “Better but not over it. I don’t think she will ever get over it no matter where she lives, no matter how much money she has, no matter how much education she has. She’s still going to be black.”

Jordan: “Is being black a problem for blacks or a problem for whites?”

Rock Man: “That is a very perceptive question. Could I get some coffee and then we will discuss?”

Jordan: “You’re stalling.”

Rock Man: “You’re right. Now where is the coffee?”

Jordan: “OK Rock Man, you have stalled long enough.”

Rock Man: “Never quite thought of the issue whether blacks have a problem being black. My answer is ‘yes’ but I am not quite sure why.”

Jordan: “What about being a minority? Is that the cause?”

Rock Man: “You know it shouldn’t be because all immigrant groups were minorities initially. And most all were discriminated against. Nothing new there.”

Jordan: “Let me phrase the question differently. Has the effort to assimilate blacks increased the desire not to be black?”

Rock Man: “Let me ask you. Do Jews want to be Jews?”

Jordan: “Good question, and maybe a lesson for blacks. For many years Jews tried to assimilate. The Reform movement reduced significantly the amount of services spoken in Hebrew. What happened is the services became more like a church service. Over the years, many Reform Jews felt something was lost. Now services include more Hebrew and more traditional prayers.

Rock Man: “And what’s the reaction among congregants?”

Jordan: “Some members are upset. But nationwide, there seems to be two groups forming — Jews who live in the modern world but want to keep links to the past and those who want to live in the past.”

Rock Man: “Are you suggesting that blacks return to the past?”

Jordan: “Yes, in some ways. Quit trying to be white and start being more black.”

Rock Man: “Huey Newton and the Panthers here we come! Or are you talking about something more moderate.”

Jordan: “Forget the Black Power stuff. The only Panthers you should think about play football in Charlotte. The Black Power movement alienated a lot of whites…and probably a lot of blacks as well. My suggestion is focus on education. Focus on rebuilding black businesses.”

Rock Man: “What about all the inequality that exists? How does that get addressed? More government programs?”

Jordan: “Rock Man, you know the answer. You…the black community…needs to solve its own problems. Government can help but mandates don’t generate respect.”

Rock Man: “This is going to be a long road.”

Jordan: “Yes, but guys like you need to start leading the change.”

Rock Man: “Do you really think it is possible after all these years?”

Jordan: “Rock Man, from my perspective the black community seems to have no choice — either begin solving its own problems with some help or watch conditions get worse and worse.”

Rock Man: “OK Jordan. By the way, I agree. Now I need to get started. Will you help if I need you?”

Jordan: “Of course. And say hello to you lovely wife.”

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