Culture is not something inherent or genetically determined. It is a result of choices made by a group at one time, choices that could have been wrong at the time due to insufficient information or right for that time but not for a different time. These ideas and practices become automated over time until they begin to look like they are inborn.

It is not just ethnic groups and communities or even nations that have culture. Even corporations, for example, have cultures. When you visit Google in Mountain View, you can almost immediately see their culture of intellectual independence, passion and freedom (when I visited the Google offices with a Stanford group, I was shocked to observe that they are even allowed to bring their dogs to work!)

Another older software company, say IBM, that might have developed a culture of great managerial efficiency but not enough creativity will try to copy what Google does so that they can also achieve great results. That’s what the Harvard Business Review exists for: to study the habits of winning companies so that others can simply copy.

If this other company instead said, “let’s not copy anyone, let’s be proud of our culture, after all we have achieved so many things in the past that others even copied from us; we were once the kings in software, that’s a great heritage …” (and so on), we can all tell that such a company will continue being left behind, it will never catch up with Google. It even risks death.

If we can see this with companies, why is it so hard to see that the same applies to communities and even nations?

Indeed there is plenty of evidence in history showing this very attitude and how it destroyed once successful people. China, for example, was once upon a time the most advanced civilization in the world. It had the attitude of learning from others no matter who they were, as they came to trade with it and as the Chinese went out to them, until it became the most knowledgeable and most envied society in the world.

So how did they ultimately lose this status? They suddenly decided that they were too good to associate with others – the “barbarians” – and they now deliberately kept to themselves.  Meanwhile other societies continued to humbly copy the advances of Chinese culture and to add to it other practical lessons from elsewhere. By the time China came into conflict with them, it was easily conquered. It was by now far from being the greatest, it was a mere shadow of its past.

Black pride has had an even worse effect on blacks all over the world, as they have continued to see other people, especially whites, as moral barbarians.

Leaders of black communities, including some now famous former community organizers, get surprised when they fail to get many young blacks interested in things like education, hard work, etc. But the reason is that the same leaders present the white people as moral barbarians, as “greedy capitalists” who are in fact responsible for their poverty, both historically and presently. Once these kids associate something with white culture, they will rebel against it even if you try to turn around and encourage them to embrace it. Why should they act the way evil people act? These evil people love school, so we shouldn’t love school, because we don’t want them to control us by giving us their things. We should have pride.

That’s the deeper, sometimes subconscious, logic that makes the black underclass rebel against the civilized practices discovered and internalized by other people who are more humble when it comes to learning from others.

Heritage is nothing to be proud of if it’s still not taking you to the top.


3 thoughts on “How Black Pride produces Black Poverty – part 4.

  1. A well reasoned and quite intriguing point of view. Culture is indeed not a natural trait. Rather, it is a set of value based practices that are shaped by the events in peoples’ lives. And as you correctly pointed out, some would be right and others wrong, again based on their usefulness with the times they are being practiced.

    For instance, most Bemba sayings were synthesized during times of inadequate rations. Women and children were not allowed to eat certain parts of the chicken, fish, etc. Husbands used to have ututemba cupo; essentially a contingency meal. Times similar to these gave birth to proverbs such as tondo wabula nshima alalala, umweo kanani balashinwina, kasumba kake lamba tilungane no ulile, noko wamubiyo tekatilwa palwino, etc.

    Those sayings/proverbs were indicative of the severity of times. The Irish highlanders boast of their resilience when they had to go through a long patch of famine. I would bet you they too have something synonymous to our sayings/proverbs that are descriptive of those times. If we have them, and the Irish have them too, others may have them as well.

    We seem to agree on all that. But what puts the equation out of balance is the fact that only we are always seen as required to learn the beliefs and practices of others. You and I may be an exception but most of our people don’t speak their language, they don’t eat their indigenous foods, they do not respect their elders, they don’t…do a lot of things that defined them as a people. They carry foreign names even when they have never been to foreign lands. You can argue that we are quick studies perhaps?

    But what about tjhose from whom we learn? You mentioned that it should be an exchange of practices, but is it really? How many whites who lived among is since the times of Cecil Rhodes have adopted our names let alone learn our languages, eat our food, wear ifilundu, adopt our ceremeonies in an exchange…?

    I agree with you that heritage is nothing to be proud of if it is not taking you to the top. That statement begs the question, “what top? Or rather top of what?” Another question fitting the search for the top is, who has been there and who said it is there and not here? Is the top being successful at transforming yourself from who you are somebody else? How come THEY are not taking any of our stuff? Is it that bad?

    I encourage you to watch the video Yakoana. It is on Youtube and talks about our destructive modern pursuits. Sometimes what we think is backwardness is in fact the right place to be in terms of beliefs and practices.

    I say to you, the seed of our destruction is safely hidden in unjustified abandonment of our heritage.

    Our heritage does not teach laziness. Our heritage does not encourage dependency on others or on an institution. Our heritage seeks to strengthen the collective by strengthening the individual. The wellness of the household depends on the status and condition of the individual. Our heritage promotes individual responsibility and collective action.

    That spirit is well documented in bio mimicry and today’s Org. Development gurus are saying that is the way to go. Those that are causing confusion in the black underclass may be doing so because they too unjustifiably abandoned their heritage in search of a fleeting illusion.

    Marcus Terrano says, “It will end up where it all started.” I thought that was a profound statement. Is is coming to pass, in bits. Another scientist said the essential information of life is all contained in a cell – anything outside of it that runs contrary to the instructions the cell contains, will ultimately lead to its demise. That and many other statements are calling the so-called civilized practices into question.

    1. “They are not taking any of our stuff” Are you kidding? Blues music, jazz, the basis of all genre of American pop music was created by black peple.The food of southern white people was created by black people. We just call it soul food. Popular expressions we hear on tv, see on the internet often had their origin on the streets of the inner city!

      As for the rest of what you have to say: I believe its up to each individual to determine where they want to go in life usng all the informaton they can from whatever sources available. The problem with the inner city sources is that they tend to be negative and where positive, limited.

  2. I have read all the 4 parts with keen interest as well as the reply or comments that have been out forth. I totally agree with you point that we as a race have to adopt traits and habits that we enable us to uplift our individual lives and in turn raising the corporate position.
    What I further put forth is the extent to which we distinguish between culture and heritage has to be closely monitored. According to history and I stand to be corrected, the industrial age was brought about by the western powers, Europe and America. But the funny thing is china, Japan and Korea are today some of the most industrialised and productive countries. From my assessment, this is as a result of the leaders and the entire nations adopting the habits of these pioneers and blending them with their cultures and heritage.if we as a race are to take this approach then we first need to identify not only what’s wrong with our cultures but also what’s right. The Japanese, Russians, Chinese, name them all , adopted attributes of prosperity such as education and taught it in their languages. Today the entire zambian learning curriculum is based on a strong understanding and command of the English language, which renders the entire process useless, and I can prove it.if English was not your first language, then you are a living proof of individuals that learnt how to read and write a language they did not understand.I once got slapped for telling a doctor I was fine when my father took me to the clinic when I was actually ill, why, I was told that’s how one responds to “how are you?”
    The above is an example of what might go wrong should we outrightly deject our cultures. Another example is the abandoning of the extended family setup. Economically its a burden on the bread winner and a nuclear family has been the recommended approach for the past 20 years. We now have within the developed nations grandparents being put in old people’s homes, kids being raised by maids whose morals and standards might be different to the parents. These are also some of the things i feel we can offer to the advanced nations. Am not going to give up my heritage but I will adopt a culture that enables me to excell and show all around me that it can be done with commitment and dedication to the desires of an individual.

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