My answer is I don’t know. I think American society is about self and, as black Americans have achieved more political social and economic power the meaning of community has become diluted or even moot. The painful catch-22 of being a black American is that, we want to be recognized as individuals and not a monolith – we don’t all, obviously, like fried chicken & waffles and hip hop and baptist church and inferring so would be insulting. Thusly, the idea of a ‘community’ at this point…
Is a sort of puzzling notion because, Where exactly is this ‘community’ we live in? And, given that every individual is free to pursue in education or financial opportunity for himself, how responsible am I for someone else’s success? That clear answer is, not very and honestly, I always say if Frederick Douglass could escape slavery and learn to read 200 years ago surely you could go to the library and figure out how to get a job or start a business.
On the complete flip side, I do feel a level of responsibility to give back to people less fortunate and exposed than me, which is, I think, more a consequence of economics rather than color. So, I make a point to volunteer my time and talk to young people whenever and whenever I can. However I don’t feel any overall impetus to be some ‘savior of the race’; I think that’s an outdated concept. This isn’t 1964 or even 1973 or even 1983 – people need to be responsible for themselves first, which is an enormous enough challenge, and then see how they can help a neighbor.
So, in summation, ‘community’ – for me, anyway – is confusing. It begs the question, exactly who am I responsible for and why? A cup of sugar, sure. Helping a neighbor when sick, absolutely. Making the problems of someone who is fully as capable as me my own? I have a problem with that.