Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Thought on Blacks & Fraternalism
(Photo courtesy of W. Bro. Anthony Mongelli)
I was asked my thoughts recently on several topics. I AM recapping the conversation, and various points discussed and/or made in the conversation by myself.
We started with the state of the Black community in America:
The Black community has lost its way for the same reason our fraternal organizations, churches, schools and communities have lost theirs.
Systemic racism is only a part of the problem. Integration was a planned way to keep Blacks oppressed by convincing us we had overcome by now being able to spend our hard earned dollars at white-owned establishments, instead of the Black-owned community based businesses that were of benefit to our own communities starting after slavery ended until 1964... the same situation across the board with schools, churches, and professional services of varying kinds.
A large difference today is that it is more difficult to get started in any business through normal or conventional means available to white borrowers that will approach any lending institution. Black-owned banks are a fraction of what they used to be, and government sponsored lending programs are suspect in that the administrators chosen often use the same discriminatory practices that made the agency they administrate necessary. Isn't that something?
What a difference 35-40 years can make, as I came from a family of hard-working entrepreneurs that held down full time positions in addition to the small businesses owned by the family. The family was involved in most aspects of the Black community to include schools, churches, fraternal organizations and other matters that specifically affected Blacks and their well-being.
Though I AM now a middle aged person, I can still remember when there were Black-owned businesses in my region where I was raised in Ohio/West Virginia and the fact that we as a people genuinely cared about each other.
The Masonic divide has multiple elements to it from what I have observed:
1) An internal Black-on-Black crime aspect that entails separation along social & economic class discrimination perpetrated by Blacks themselves against other Blacks of a lower socio-economic standing, and at times discrimination based on skin color in addition to the aforementioned items. This separation partially created the current dilemma of self-started bogus organizations calling themselves Masonic, even when they knowingly do not meet the commonly accepted definition according to accepted Masonic principles.
2) The other factor in the Masonic divide is domination over an instrument (Freemasonry) used to elevate one's social standing in society, which is often why white Freemasons in America have been so antagonistic toward Prince Hall Freemasonry in general, and against Black men holding and being recognized for their Masonic membership. Despite Freemasonry and its principle emphasizing the "equality" of all Freemasons, during colonial times there was an element of aristocracy to Masonic membership just as there is even today. Just my take on that matter.
I have recently had discussions with several Freemasons in West Virginia, a state in which the two regular Grand Lodges do not recognize each other, and appear to hold the same amounts of contempt for each others existence. The anomaly is this; the reasons they cannot stand each other differ on several points which would cause bringing any of them to a table together most difficult.
I have been able to speak with Prince Hall Affiliated members and mainstream members. I must say that the conversations are always interesting, and I once again see that intolerance continues for reasons that don't make sense to anyone but the person holding the intolerant view. Some of these intolerant views are held against me by both parties.
PHA members often cannot stand me because I hold mainstream membership, while mainstream members cannot stand me because I AM Black and hold mainstream membership that they refuse to recognize because I AM Black... someone help me out here LOL!
To say that there has been friction between myself and PHA/ mainstream members in West Virginia may be an understatement. I simply detest discriminatory, exclusionary and second-rate practices that have NO place in a civilized society.
Intolerance has long perpetuated a divide between people in general, let alone Freemasons and other fraternal groups. My question is to what end will these questionable practices continue?
Our moral responsibility alone demands that we treat our fellow humans better than many of us often do, yet we often allow social pressure from others to cloud our own critical thinking and conduct.
So, once again I don't have answers, or even solutions but I do hope I have given the reader some things to ponder. Perhaps one of you may offer an answer or solution. I'll be waiting to hear from you.
Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man
The Twice-Raised Freemason
I have included links to the following articles that contributed to this writing.