As a kid I grew up watching the TV show “The Incredible Hulk” (1977-1982). The live action series starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Bruce Banner, whose alter ego is the Hulk. If you’re familiar with the Marvel Comics character, in human form Dr. Banner spends a large amount of time trying to remain calm; search for a cure to his problem and not let troubling issues make him mad. It’s when he’s extremely upset he turns into this huge raging monster that’s known as the Hulk. Whenever he was pushed too far he’d say his famous line, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”. It was usually at that moment everyone figures out why they shouldn’t have made him angry. From that point on, it was all downhill for anyone in the Hulk’s presence.
In my young adult years, I remember hearing the term angry black man or angry black women being used in popular music, movies and media. I don’t know where it came from but to a certain degree I can understand why that perception of blacks could be assumed. You may have seen glimpses of it amongst our culture. You surely hear enough negative nightly news supporting that stereotype. Seeing life as a minority through the lens of America will make you angry sometimes.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder what if we really are an angry community? One could argue there is certainly enough reason to be mad at a lot of the disparities between races in America. And if more isn’t done to rectify the issues, the racial divide will only get wider. However, I feel more attention should be given to “WHY” blacks might be viewed as an angry people. Sometimes I think this basic insight gets overlooked by everyone in this country. Thinking about the potential triggers that solicits the anger of the black community, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between the rage of Dr. Banner’s Hulk and the feelings one may experience as a minority. It’s all relative.
The following are a list of things that generally upset the black community today:
1. Justice System – Between the double standard of the legal system and not guilty verdicts for police shooting unarmed suspects, this issue alone is more than enough to make the average black person mad. I can’t begin to describe the level of hurt I experienced over the Trayvon Martin verdict. Just to have those same feelings of outrage visit me again and again with Mike Brown and Laquan McDonald’s case. Every time an injustice is done to minorities and shown on the news, it’s like it serves as reminder to minorities to"know your place just in case you forgot”. Yet these types of annoyances in the legal system seem to be a regular occurrence. How can you not be enraged over this issue?
2. Education – Old dilapidated buildings (if still open), lack of money in the budget for poor neighborhoods, understaffed/overwhelmed teachers, outdated or just no textbooks at all and limited resources in the black community are legitimate reasons to be irate nowadays. There seems to be no change in sight by our state and federal government to improve things either. I would be fuming if I was a parent of a kid in this generation.
3. Health Care – Bottom-line, you must pay to be healed in our country. No insurance, no help. Obviously, you can see how problematic this can be for someone who doesn’t make a lot of money or doesn’t have a job at all. Can you imagine watching your children or an elderly person suffer in pain because their families can’t afford medicine or proper treatment for them? Or how about you get hurt and can’t work, but without work you have no money to get help. You think that might make you furious?
4. Housing – It’s probably safe to say no one is getting crosses burned on their lawn, rocks thrown through their windows or such things like that anymore. None of that is necessary now. All you gotta do is gentrify an urban neighborhood, make the prices on the new homes so expensive that the old residence can’t live there any longer. No big deal, they’ve only lived there 10-30 years or so, maybe raised their kids in that home (or apartment), might have been the only constant in their lives. Give them a section 8 voucher as a consolation prize and relocate them to a small poor suburb with very limited access to the city and area resources. Who would get hostile over that?
5. Jobs – The market is bad for everyone. I get it. But not as bad as it seems to be for blacks. In 2016, the African American jobless rate was at its lowest level in the past 12 years at 7.4%. Having a job is not a privilege. It should be a right. Working is not just about survival and taking care of yourself, it’s also about preparing for your future. If this is not possible, that would irk any human being I know.
6. Racism – Is there much I need to say about this one? Racism shows up in every category I mentioned previously. Hate in and of itself is evil. And unfortunately, this evilness plays out in our justice, educational and health care systems. Its prevalent in redlining and preferential treatment in our housing and job markets. These are all the issues that affect real people’s lives. Over what? Skin colors? Because of fear? Being unfamiliar with other cultures and ethnicities? Over stereotypes, prejudice and bigotry? Keep in mind, everyone wants to be happy. No matter the race we all want safety, security, salary, shelter and sanity. That’s regardless of color. Being denied in one of these areas would make someone mad. Let alone being blocked on all fronts as a community. I think I have an idea of how the Hulk feels now.
Do you want to know what’s the root cause of anger? Failure of empathy; an inability to see things from the other person's point of view. Well do you see my point of view? Yet these points of contention sum up how a lot of black people feel every day. Now imagine continuously feeling like this for years and even decades at a time. You’re bound to get a negative reaction from anyone under these circumstances. Just minus the famous saying, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I am angry”. Especially when you have a bunch of folks too angry to even articulate it to others.
I service at risk teens and adults who are angry. I see strangers who are angry. The workers at the DMV are angry. The mailman is angry. I’ve got family members who are angry. I wasn’t before, but now I’m angry. I don’t want to be angry anymore. Still the very things that makes us angry aren’t getting resolved. So, what do we do about it? Turn into the Hulk? No. We should learn from Dr. Banner's example and remain calm, look for the cure and try not to let the troubling issues in America make us mad. We must take control of our situation, rather than let the situation take control of us. Otherwise we all will Hulk out.
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