I Am Not You. You Are Not Me. We Are Not We.

Families Suck! I wish they would all disappear.

—Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) in Home Alone

The family—that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.

-Dodie Smith

Our Struggle with Direction 

How did we ever come to be in such a mess? Legions of teenagers, pregnant or orchestrating their lives toward pregnancy, stroll shamelessly through our streets. Single-parent homes dominate our neighborhoods and typify the deficient rearing grounds of most of our children. Black males–little more than sperm donors–wander the streets engaged in an interminable adolescence. Record numbers of incarcerated persons languish unmotivated and irresponsibly in prison. And, above all else, countless black families struggle daily to survive neighborhoods besieged by virulent drug and gang cultures. For them, a family walk on a cool summer evening is near suicide.

In so many tragic ways, it seems we are moving backward. After all the years of being held back and held down, followed by all the years of hope and promise, we still, as a people, struggle mightily with our direction.

Those “Other” Black Persons  

I contend that it is not we who are struggling and moving backward. They are. They being those “other” black persons. The ones who defeat themselves. The ones who choose not to advance. The ones who bring us shame. Those black persons. You know who they are. You see them on the street everyday. Pants saggin’. Asses wigglin’. Prospects dwindlin’.

The Choice to Advance or Delay 

Yes, I too am black. Just as they are. But we are not family. I am not them. They are not me. We are not we. To think otherwise blurs the mammoth distinctions between those black persons who chose to advance and those who chose to delay.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. We’ll pick up again next week.

Until then:



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Dr. James Davison, Jr. is a licensed psychologist and university professor. He conducts a private practice in Seattle, Washington, and has appeared on several nationally-aired programs including The Phil Donahue Show, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of several books – Prisoners Of Our Past and Sweet Release, and the upcoming Paid In Full – related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.

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