How Black Elitism Causes Black Poverty

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on how there is a drastically limited number of non-foreign black Americans who a have careers in most healthcare/law professions.  In case you missed it, statistics show that certain healthcare professions (eg, medicine, dentistry, podiatry, PT, OT) severely lack black professionals.  This is especially true for African-Americans whose parents and grandparents were born in the United States (non-foreign Blacks).

Following the article, a friend of mine asked me a simple question:  what is a solution to this?  How do we (as a community and as a society) motivate these youth to pursue careers in these professions?

As I discussed in the last article, models seem to be the most important factor that influences youth to pursue opportunities in such professions.  Models are necessary in a community because they present the idea of the profession to which youth can aspire.  They also encourage said youth that achieving these particular professions is possible and, in fact, ideal for many future careers of youth.  It is rare to find a Black dentist, pharmacist, or podiatrist in the community; this makes it difficult for youth to aspire for such career paths (and sometimes even know about them).  Merely having a Black doctor as a family member could inspire a younger person in the family to acheive such goals.  The importance of models cannot be overstated.

The sad thing is, Blacks who are in these professions seems to lack the desire to disseminate information regarding the opportunities that exist in their profession.  It seems as if successful Black people like to be the only ones that achieve the goal that they achieved.  They know that they are rare, and seem to like it that way.  In fact, Black folks in these professions carry themselves as if they set some sort of record that they don’t want anyone else to break.  Here are two examples:

1.   Jack and Jill.  Jack and Jill is an African-American family organization established in 1938 that provides cultural, social, educational, civic, and recreational activities that stimulate and expand the Black culture.  This exclusive organization (that apparently you have to be born into) helps lure young Black Americans into professional programs and cultivate professional skills necessary to matriculate in such environments.

  •  The Truth:  Few Black Americans are actually a part of this organization.  First, if you are not a non-foreign Black person, you automatically do not qualify for membership.  This puts so many Black people at a disadvantage, since not all foreign Blacks have privileges or resources to achieve great goals in notable professions.  Second, you are required to have familial lineage in order to qualify for membership in this organization.  If you are not born from family members who are members themselves (or you have no one to sponsor your admission), you can never be a member.  Not only do few people even know about the organization, but they do not even let in Black youth that need it the most.

2.   100 Black Men of America.  The mission of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is to improve the quality of life within Black communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans.  This organizations intentions are to serve as a beacon of leadership by utilizing their diverse talents to create environments where Black children are motivated to achieve, and to empower Black people to become self-sufficient shareholders in the economic and social fabric of the communities we serve.

  • The Truth:  Although this organizations mission sounds valiant, the non-profit is actually extremely exclusive and very difficult to obtain membership.  First, to be a member, you must be an esteemed member of your community, and your profession must be held in high regard (according to their subjective opinion of that).  Once you pass the organizations strict entry criteria, you are asked to pay an annual fee of $600 + to join and maintain membership.  Keep in mind that only benefit you receive from the organization is the ability to donate your time to help at-risk youth in need of educational assistance and motivational support.  But unfortunately, seems like you got to meet elite criteria and come out of pocket just to participate in their philanthropy.

 

It is apparent that the many professionals in Black community continue to feel as though they are elite and are largely unwilling to reach out and motivate youth to engage the same opportunities.  Sad thing is, we have the answer and solution to the problems that our community faces.  Models.  Many just seem to intentionally dismiss this obvious solution so that the exclusivity of the privileged Black community can continue to be maintained.  A sad truth.

-Deshawn (ShonJay714)

About Author

Deshawn

Journalist and aspiring writer. Contact me at da.advocates@gmail.com

6 Comments

    • aguilla112
      July 5, 2013

      I’ve never had much to do w/Jack & Jill, aside from having family associated with it.
      I can speak to the 100, as I am a member. I think your information is based on the chapter that is local to you, which explains your viewpoint. However, you can’t really paint the entire organization with that broad of a brush. For example, our member dues are more than half of the amount you list. Also, not every member of our chapter has an “esteemed” career. Yes, there are some executives, lawyers, engineers, etc. But we also have ministers and educators. The reasoning why some chapters may choose to have professionals is simply because of the motto of the organization, which is “What They see is what They’ll be.” If we want another generation of rappers and athletes, then we’ll get them to be mentors. However, I think the goal of our nation should be to have more doctors, lawyers, teachers, ministers, etc.

      Reply
    • aguilla112
      July 6, 2013

      Also, our chapter strives to make sure that we are very visible with the youth that we mentor, as well as exposing them to other professionals. Just my thoughts…

      Reply
    • Erik
      July 8, 2013

      Lol!!! You should have talked to us about this, D! Half of us at ThaWell (Marcus and I) are members of the 100 Black Men of Greater Kansas City. As Marcus stated, membership requirements and dues vary from chapter to chapter. Ours are not close to the $600 you mentioned! But the greater flaw in what you mentioned is that membership in the 100 does not make one “elite”. The 100 is not about being an elite organization. At least our chapter isn’t. It’s about presenting that model that you talked about to young black boys. We’ve had a core group of mentees that we’ve helped through high school and on to college. Anyone can sign their son up to be a mentee free of charge. Anyone can be a member as long as they have some time to give. It’s true that we have a lot of members with college degrees, but we also have some that don’t. We have some that own businesses, but we also have some that work(ed) hourly jobs their entire lives. Also, since both Marcus and I chair the Membership Committee, I can tell you that the membership requirements aren’t nearly as strenuous as you imply.
      Like Marcus, I can’t speak to Jack & Jill, but I know people who have been in it. I’m not so sure what you say is correct there either.

      Reply
    • Deshawn
      July 8, 2013

      I think that is just the KC experience. I’ve attempt to be associated with both the LA and the New York chapters of the 100 organization and have experienced the same results. They are elitist, and membership isn’t promised. I was endorsed after an interview with one of the committee members, but the process still required a board decision and hefty membership fee. Dude even came off like that too. Idk, maybe the KC chapter is the exception to the rule

      Reply
    • Erik
      July 8, 2013

      Or maybe LA and NY are the outliers. That’s probably closer to the truth. Even if those two are elitest, you have a freakin doctorate, dude! That puts you closer to “elite” than any of us.

      Reply
    • Ric
      July 15, 2013

      I’m inclined to agree with DeShawn. The Indianapolis Chapter and Charlotte chapters are much closer to his description than it is to KC model. I joined as a not-so young attorney after prodding from a friend, who is a physician. We (both products of the inner-city) felt the credential fascination/emphasis was undeniable in both the 100 Black Men. Jack & Jill, an organization for children that is ironically sensitive to their “parent’s chosen profession”, is equally credential focused.

      Reply

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