On April 4, 1968, the love died. Some may say that the Civil Rights Movement ended with the death of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. At the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the nihilist threat began its attack against the black psyche.
Nihilism is what happens when love is absent. The absence of love for self, family and community is destroying the black community today.
Cornel West, a professor at Harvard University, points out how past generations put up a wall against this monster by creating cultural structures that taught values such as “service and sacrifice, love and care, discipline and excellence.”
He noted that before the 1970s, blacks had the lowest suicide rate, but now we lead the nation with the largest suicide rate increase. This not only reflects despair but also loss of life. Cultural structures, such as churches, schools and communities, that protected black people have weakened or disappeared.
West’s book “Race Matters” outlines the nihilist threat as the most basic issue now facing black America. According to West, nihilism is the “lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness and (most important) lovelessness.”
West wrote, “In fact, the major enemy of black survival in America has been and is neither oppression nor exploitation but rather the nihilistic threat-that is, loss of hope and absence of meaning,”
Cultural structures have been replaced with an individual pursuit of materialistic items that do not increase in value over time. We listen to songs that chant, “I don’t give a f–,” which translates to not caring about anything.
Many regard women as objects of sexual gratification and men as vessels for financial gain. Love is not in the equation. At least this is what is portrayed to the rest of America through the media. Therefore, it is up to the community to stop this cold, vicious cycle before it becomes worse.
To end this cycle, West introduced the idea of the love ethic. The love ethic is a process where people begin to love themselves and others. With love comes value, and with value comes a need to improve oneself.
We need to focus on loving ourselves, instead of hating others. If we all learn how to focus on improving our lives, we would see the importance of helping others realize the same focus. Therefore, the best way to help our community is to learn how to love.
Emanuel Nicholson is a junior newspaper journalism student from Tallahassee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org