Blacks: Victims of Analysis Paralysis - Is "Empire" good or bad for us?

ImageWe may be the most self-analyzed people on the planet. In our search for comfort with our identity, nothing done by a Black person escapes the scrutiny of street corner philosophers and academic scholars. We are both our harshest critics and strongest defenders simultaneously. In our march of progress we are hampered by Analysis Paralysis.

Whether it is a very successful TV show, or the President of the USA, our observations are mostly cast in the context of how every action affects "all of us." 

What individuals in any other ethnic group wake up every day with the weight of their race to carry through every word or action? How can we work toward collective efforts to help us strive for excellence and achievement together when our every action is subject to criticism from every quarter? 

Criticism of the TV show "Empire" is another example of the pathology, in my opinion. A disinterested outside observer may conclude that there is a homogeneous group of Blacks in the USA. Except that the voices coming from within the group give rise to a pathology that suggests that we are all at some stage of escaping from a grand conspiracy to eliminate us from the planet. It seems that "we" cannot agree on what exactly constitutes success for this TV show. Some claim the show reinforces negative stereotypes. Others applaud the talent of those in front and behind the camera of this show that have recently thrust many Black stars, writers and producers into the spotlight. Is this success good, or is the content of the show a bad reflection on Black progress?

Entrepreneurship or a Career
There are those among us who believe that entrepreneurship is the key to economic empowerment. Some have gone so far as to criticize aspiring job seekers with the mantra that a JOB means "just over broke."  Can all of us become entrepreneurs? Are Black mainstream corporate professionals "sellouts?" Are Black TV actors just performers in a minstrel show?

Obama doesn't care about Black People
Others criticize President Obama with the observation that "Blacks have fallen farther behind under Obama."  The charge is that this president doesn't care about Black people.  Can the President solve all of our problems?  Did Obama roll back the Voting Rights Bill provisions?  Did Obama say that "corporations are people too?" Did the Obama Supreme Court validate Citizens United?  He faces much of the same opposition and barriers that we all do.

The successful and unsuccessful are not excluded from the avalanche of criticism from within our virtual community. How can "we" help lift one another when everyone is a target of criticism? Is there at least one among us whom we unanimously agree is a positive role model to emulate? Is there a critical mass of role models that we can point to for our children to view as mentors and role models? How do we get out of this vicious cycle of self-hatred and self-limiting criticism?

We live in a market-driven capitalist society. Yes, the game is rigged to the benefit of those at the top. Yes, there are still systemic barriers that we must overcome. But we have to play to win -- together. The game won't be changed to lift all of us out of our misery. Those of us who are more successful than others must help lift others. There are Blacks who are doing that every day.  It seems we pay more attention to the dysfunction than we do to consolidating our gains to help benefit our children and grandchildren. 

The TV show "Empire" or "Scandal" are not the litmus tests for our progress.  We must focus on broader measurements of progress.  I hope we can widen our perspective to include more information sharing about the things that the hardworking among us are doing for others. 

Every day there are positive indicators of success in every area of  African American life.  I see the mentors and volunteers, the teachers and social workers, business owners and corporate professionals, mothers and fathers working together to build strong families.  Somehow, these success stories get ground up in the analysis of why we have not made more progress. It seems that no matter what path we take, there is another Black pundit to criticize our actions.

I would like to encourage more analysis of the successes within our communities, so that we can improve and expand upon Black progress.  For many of us, the glass IS half full, not half empty.  We really have made a lot of progress -- even under President Obama.  We can see it if we look for it.

Roger Madison, CEO
iZania, LLC