The ‘OOWE Syndrome’–Our Own Worst Enemy

There are hardly any grounds for disputing the fact that Black people in America are surrounded by “natural enemies:” who kidnapped us from Africa; enslaved us for 300 years; who lynched us for another 100 years; and who up until this very moment are fiendishly plotting to foil any advancement for which we might be eligible, to keep us forever on our knees before them. That goes without saying, unless of course you mention Oscar Grant in Oakland, or Amadou Diallo in New York City, or James Craig Anderson, a Black man, who just the other day was beaten by two carloads of White punks yelling “White Power,” before they repeatedly drove over his body in their cars.

But we are reminded by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam for 45 years, that we–Black people in America–are Our Own Worst Enemy.

Last week, four individuals in Philadelphia went on trial in the wake of high-quality surveillance video of three gunmen shooting up a crowded bus in “retaliation” for a male bus passenger warning a female passenger that he would report her to child services for spanking her son on the bus.

I know just how that intended victim must have felt before the bullets started flying on that Route 47 bus, in the Parkside neighborhood, near Temple University, on the avenue named to honor Philly Civil Rights hero Cecil B. Moore.

A few weeks ago, I was walking my bicycle in the elevator lobby of an apartment building in Northwest Washington, DC. A young man was behind me, still riding his bike inside the building. I asked him politely if he would please not ride his bicycle inside the building because there are a lot of small children, elderly residents, and residents in wheel chairs. “Mind your own business,” he snapped at me.

I told him, “this is my business because people complain about me just walking my bicycle in this building.” He was having none of it.

“This is how people get shot up and get they butts whipped. Reckless talking,” he told me.

“You mean to tell me that you would shoot me, just because I asked you to not ride your bicycle inside the building?” I asked him. In the meantime, an elevator came. I got on, the young man did not.

“You just raggedy, anyway,” the man shouted as the door closed.

So, I guess this is the new standard of behavior for Black folks, dealing with young Black folks today: Don’t say anything “reckless,” unless you’re ready to get whipped or have a “cap popped off in your behind” (Ebonics for “get shot”).

When I was coming up, you had to at least do something to offend somebody–like stepping on their shoe, or talking about their mother–before they resorted to martial law, but now, any old excuse will set someone off.

The idea that a 20-year-old mother could think that it’s acceptable to call her baby’s father’s friends to come and retaliate for her because she’d been warned to not chastise her child on the bus, is incredible by itself. But the fact that three grown-up “men” would agree to that mindless request by going to the bus-stop “strapped,” with concealed automatic rifles and pistols, and would then unleash a barrage of gunfire to teach some “raggedy” man a lesson about some kind of “reckless talking” would be unimaginable, if the incident had not been captured by surveillance cameras installed on the bus system.

What could those young people have been thinking? I can only imagine. Maybe they thought their action would send a message to everybody who rides that 47 bus along Cecil B. Moore Avenue in Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood, and anywhere else in the known world, that they are some “Bad Mamma-Jammas.”

“Don’t mess with Us,” and “Don’t mess with Our Baby Mamas either!”

They were probably also thinking their action was sending a message to all the Gangstas of the world, like Philly rapper Schooly D, who recorded “PSK” as in “Park Side Killers;” like the notorious Scarface of movie fame: “He better not be trying to move no product in Parkside without Our okay;” “And tell that Go-Daffi Cat over there in Africa, and that Bin Laden Dude, they better stay the hell off the 47 bus in Philly, cause We be they Worst Enemy.”

“Tell all the ni–uhs in Philly and e’erywhere else, from now on, they better check with us before they start any of that ‘reckless talking’ on the 47 bus, in Parkside–West Side!–Philadelphia. Otherwise they gonna find out We they Worst Enemy!”

Right! Make no mistake about it, We are indisputably, Our Own Worst Enemy, and We are ready to prove it to the Whole Wide Wurl!

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