Voicing Sentiments Without Conviction:
The Assorted Disarray of Dark Gary (So-Called Black) Thoughts
We’ve all heard the old saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.” Although the idea it tries to convey is readily understood, making logical sense of that kind of idea is much more difficult.
Certainly, there are a number of things, perhaps, that do metaphorically Walk Like A Duck and even Talk Like A Duck but happen not to be A Duck. The realm of possibility alone makes this abundantly true, so much so that this old saying has come to be modified (properly, I might add) to conclude that after all those factors of looking, walking and talking that, well it’s probably but not exactly true in all cases. But what do ducks have to do with this blog you might ask?
Well, given the increased attention on the Diversity Of Black Thought and competing Black ideological perspectives – whether fixed into old modes, adding to them or forming new ones – it only make sense to examine what the fuss is all about. Certainly, there has always been ample diversity of thought among African-Americans social and political opinion leaders. My purpose, though, is not to simply cite how that was/is the historical fact-of-the-matter. I’m going to take that as a given. A readily agreed upon assumption.
What I do want to explore is what’s behind the charge that there is resistance to diversity of thought in the Black Community, specifically as it relates to this blog.
I submit that there is an increasing tendency (apparently) for Black people to do what I call “Voicing Sentiments Without Conviction”. I know... pretty awkward phraseology but I’ve thought long and hard on this, so indulge me.
What Voicing Sentiments Without Conviction (VWSC) amounts to, to me, is a person saying things that don’t logically add up. As I see it, they don’t have a Consistent Ideology. A certain contradictory, counterintuitive or conflicting eclectic set of ideas that just don’t fit. Nobody said that human beings were always rational but I’m not at all saying that people should fit in some prescribed, preset ideological box.
To the contrary, all that I’m concerned with (and puzzled by) is the remarkable amount of logical mismatches of ideas certain people (certain Black people) have in the ideas they forward and most, like Black Conservatives, pretend to be the most sensible.
Please note: This is not a casting call for Black Conservatives. There are any number of people along the ideological spectrum who have and postulate ideas from various illogical and eclectic sets of ideas.
That would promptly have us consider the crux of all this - SENTIMENTS. Surely there can be any number of sentiments , like premises to an argument, that are, no doubt, true and relevant. But, just like in forming proper arguments, premises that are “true” or valid don’t necessarily lead to conclusions that are valid. And that would bring us to considering this thing called CONVICTION.
My Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary says, in essence, that a Conviction is a “strong belief”. A belief that’s so strong that it is “compelled to admit the truth”. And, therein, lies the problem.
I’ve long since held that the difference in most of our opinions -- and the difference we seem to have -- are no more than a matter of emphasis. That is, some of us choose to emphasize a certain aspect (e.g. personal responsibility) while others choose to emphasize another aspect (e.g. White Supremacy or racism and the structural “realities” and inequalities). Neither one of these preferences in emphasis necessarily means that the other aspect in this proverbial dichotomy are absolutely ignored. But, also, people merely acknowledging an “opposing” aspect doesn’t equate to seriously considering that within their perspectives.
The truth is, some people do completely ignore the truth. The truth is, some people exaggerate about the views of others – mischaracterizing them and misrepresenting them – to try to prop up their own views.
My point is this. There is an overriding truth that for some reason some people choose to ignore and/or minimize for the sake of emphasizing their own ideas - their own sentiments. There is, as I say, an Objective Objective when it comes to speaking about the problems in the Black Community and their potential solutions. There is, however, a point in which such exaggerated views and contempt for the views of others amount to us not having the same goal in mind.
One thing is for sure, when a lot of our thinking (to those whom this applies) is based on particular Sentiments we have that in some way prohibits us from Admitting The Truth about an aspect of our struggle and our philosophical arguments with each other then we have to admit that we are not thinking logically and, in doing so, compromising our very efforts to come to some resolution.
Let me reiterate, there is nothing essentially wrong with the various Sentiments we have. The problem comes in when we allow our emotions to cloud our judgement and when we make our judgements based on emotions – as opposed to making logically connected series of thought-actions that lead to the desired and well defined end.
I ponder that perhaps we don’t all have the same goal in mind because a lot of use have defined those goals very differently. The matter then becomes one of whether the different things we propose and/or define as our collective goal... whether all those things will actually yield the results we claim they will.
As biased as I am in my perspective (and I always claim my bias), I submit that views of many of the dissenters here don’t even add up to what they claim by their own definition. And, as it is, a lot of us avoid defining what we perceive to be a worthy collective goal (e.g. “freedom”) because that would mean that we would have to logically plot out how that goal can be achieved, particularly in the way we say it can.
I also submit that White Supremacy is a powerful mitigating factor that causes so many of us to circumscribe our views around it; thus, compromising the integrity of our views and making some more apt to both grossly over-exaggerate the “legitimacy” of their own views or Sentiments and patently hyperbolize about the illegitimacy of the views of others.
In all truth, I find so many of the views that are associated with Black Conservatives or those who claim to be non-partisan and non-traditional in their views as ones that Voice Sentiments Without Conviction.
For the record, I have hardly been that concerned or obsessed with Black Conservatives. In fact, I once questioned Faheem about that very thing. I have, however, come to realize that Black Conservatives and their divergent views are more symbolic of a larger phenomenon that has been around since the beginning of Black philosophical /ideological differences (i.e. since damn near the beginning of our time here in America).
You can see it more and more as Black people associate their beliefs with various philosophies and systems of belief. The bottom line is this:
The positions of any person weighing in on the issues that face African-Americans must simply add up. If not, those people are simply Voicing Sentiments Without Conviction, expressing logic that just doesn’t follow.