Cutting Off Our Nose to Spite Our Face
20 September 2016
I recently read a column by Myron B. Pitts, Fayetteville Observer newspaper columnist, which added to my already tremendous mental and emotional pain regarding the condition of Black Americans. The title is “Myron B. Pitts: Donald Trump is ‘birther’-in-chief.” Pitts makes the case that because Donald Trump persisted in questioning whether Barack Obama was born in America, he will get very few black votes. Pitts is right and therein is the source of my pain. What I say here is not about supporting Trump. It is about the implication made in the thought process of far too many blacks, reflected in the truth of what Pitts writes. What shows here is described well by the saying, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
The meaning of that saying from grammarist.com: “The idiom to cut off your nose to spite your face means you shouldn’t do something out of spite or revenge that will end up causing more harm to you than to the person with which you are angry. In other words, do not let your overreaction lead to self-harm.”
I remember a situation in which I almost did what this idiom advises against. I was being treated by a doctor whose bedside manner bothered me. He was very much to the point, all business, and seemed distant at times. I considered changing doctors, but made the effort to assess this man and the quality of the medical care he was providing. I kept him as my doctor. Over the years, he identified a serious illness in me and very successfully treated it. At some point, he and I recognized a career experience we had in common. From that day forward, his approach shifted to one of continued outstanding medical care, but in a much more pleasant atmosphere. I benefited greatly by avoiding “cutting off my nose to spite my face.”
What Myron Pitts presents in his column is a solid manifestation of this error on the part of many Black Americans. Donald Trump paints a clear picture of the dire condition of a substantial number of Black Americans. The next three paragraphs give a feel for some components of that picture.
An article by Aaron Bandler titled, “7 Statistics You Need To Know About Black-On-Black Crime” states in part:
“Blacks committed 52 percent of homicides between 1980 and 2008, despite composing just 13 percent of the population. Across the same timeframe, whites committed 45 percent of homicides while composing 77% of the population, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.”
“Blacks are 10 percent of the population in Los Angeles, CA, but commit 42 percent of its robberies and 34 percent of its felonies. Whites make up 29 percent of the city’s population, and commit 5 percent of its robberies and 13 percent of its felonies.”
“There were almost 6,000 blacks killed by other blacks in 2015.”
Then comes unemployment among blacks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “The Employment Situation—July 2016” includes this summary statement: “Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates in July were little changed for adult men (4.6 percent), adult women (4.3 percent), teenagers (15.6 percent), Whites, (4.3 percent), Blacks (8.4 percent), Asians (3.8 percent), and Hispanics (5.4 percent).” With the exception of teenagers, black unemployment was substantially higher than every other group. What is presented in this summary does not speak to the number of people who are not counted as unemployed because they have given up looking for work. Add to this the even higher unemployment rates for blacks in large cities and the picture is grim.
Blacks in poverty are another piece of the picture. An article titled, “Poverty in Black America” at blackdemographics.com says:
“According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau ACS study 27% of all African American men, women and children live below the poverty level compared to just 11% of all Americans. An even higher percentage (38%) of Black children live in poverty compared to 22% of all children in America. The poverty rate for working-age Black women (26%) which consists of women ages 18 to 64 is higher than that of working-age Black men (21%).”
“Poverty rates for Black families vary based on the family type. While 23% of all Black families live below the poverty level only 8% of Black married couple families live in poverty which is considerably lower than the 37% of Black families headed by single women who live below the poverty line. The highest poverty rates (46%) are for Black families with children which are headed by single Black women. This is significant considering more than half (55%) of all Black families with children are headed by single women.”
The picture painted by these minimal facts regarding crime, unemployment, and poverty among Black Americans make it clear there are serious issues demanding attention. These horrible conditions have not been given real attention across decades. However, blacks have remained faithful to the Democrat Party at a rate over 90% for 50-plus years. That loyalty has been rewarded with devastating financial hand-outs and good-sounding promises not kept.
I recently spent a couple of days in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While having lunch one day, I got into a conversation with a black man sitting near me. We talked about where we grew up and similar non-controversial topics. Out of nowhere, he said something that indicated he favors Hillary Clinton. In response, I asked him if he realized Clinton supports allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country, even though illegal immigration adversely affects black employment. Without even acknowledging my question, he went back to the safe topics. No matter the facts challenging his doing so, this man is controlled by a Democrat-only attitude.
Along comes Donald Trump, painting this picture of the black circumstance with facts and figures, while asking Black Americans to allow him a chance to take on correcting the situation. For the kind of reason Myron Pitts explains, far too many blacks are like that man in Winston-Salem and will not even hear what Trump has to say. Given this general response, I find it a bit baffling that Pitts and others complain that Trump started his outreach to blacks while speaking to basically all-white audiences. I attended a Trump rally in Fayetteville a few weeks ago. I am black. Nobody stopped me from attending. There might have been five blacks in the crowd. A basic truth of successful living is to go where information for wise decision-making can be gathered.
The masses of blacks do not want to hear the Republican message, but then complain when Republican candidates do not give us special attention. Add to this what happened when Donald Trump did, on 3 September, go to the heart of a black section in Detroit, Michigan. From an article titled, “Trump Tells Black Churchgoers in Detroit Visit Is ‘To Learn’” by Jill Colvin and Corey Williams, this is Detroit:
“Detroit is about 80 percent black, and many are struggling. Nearly 40 percent of residents are impoverished, compared with about 15 percent of Americans overall. Detroit’s median household income is just over $26,000 — not even half the median for the nation, according to the census.”
Instead of creating an atmosphere that might foster understanding and progress, protesters were at the church. Not only were they protesting Trump’s visit, but they tried to rush past barricades being manned by police and church security personnel. They also yelled “sellout”, referring to Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, pastor of Great Faith Ministries International, who hosted Donald Trump. The good news is that there was a sizable audience that received Trump with respect and apparent appreciation.
Black Americans would do well to consider the thought process of Dwayne Wade, a standout professional basketball player with the Chicago Bulls. His cousin, Nykea Alridge, was recently killed in a Chicago crossfire shooting while pushing her child in a stroller. Given his attention to crime against and among blacks, Trump tweeted: “Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Trump was roundly criticized. During an interview, Wade was asked by George Stephanopoulos about Trump’s tweet. His response:
“On one hand, your cousin’s death is used as a ploy for political gain. I was grateful that it started a conversation, but on the other hand, it just [left] a bad taste in my mouth because of what my family is dealing with.”
With justification, Dwayne Wade has a “bad taste” in his mouth, but does not because of Trump’s seeming politically-motivated tweet reject the truth of crime among Black Americans urgently needing attention. It is past time for many Black Americans to rethink their approach to political decision-making. Be careful of “cutting off our nose to spite our face.” If you seek to punish Donald Trump, he loses the election, but goes on being a billionaire and living the good life. Very likely, many Black Americans go on suffering as pictured above…or worse.