Beyond Each Other: Freedom From the Black Community

By Dr. James Davison

At one time the ideology that none of us are free until all of us are free

It was a watchword in the struggle for civil rights that helped to tie us all together as a family and as a community.

However, the concept of “the black community” has evolved an essence in and of itself, too often overshadowing many of the folk who comprise the community. Through narrowness of thought, the black community reproaches those members who dare stray from its ideological clutches.

The none-or-all ideology of freedom was valuable when black people were enslaved.

However, since emancipation, this notion has increasingly lost its meaning and become dated. More appropriate to today’s social and economic conditions is the idea that none of us are free until we allow each of us the freedom to become. Free to conjoin, free to deviate. A people can be free under no lesser circumstance.

Black Community

An example of the use of dated ideology is the belief that black persons who do not live within the confines of an area with a large black population or who do not share an economic status comparable to the majority of its inhabitants are not part of the community. This terribly racist notion is a dangerous parallel to the reported dissension between field niggers and house niggers during the era of slavery. It limits membership in good standing to arbitrary criteria that contribute to the circumscriptions that abound in many segments of black communities.

These arbitrary demarcations of community have led to confusion, insularism, and censure as the rest of the world becomes increasingly pluralistic.

The notion of a strong, tight-knit community whose members are connected was, at one time, functional for black people, but now serves to hamstring us as a group and as individuals. Nevertheless many individuals, particularly those blacks who are upwardly mobile, feel put upon to address a perceived need to connect.
What to do?


Dr. James Davison, Jr. is an African-American 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 - related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.