New Notes from a Native Son

On Everyday Matters that Make a Difference

Suicides, Cotton Fields & UPS March 29, 2009

How did manage to tie what they describe as the suicide of a middle class family to a looping image of a cotton field while wagging a Cosbian finger at general Black laziness?

Like me, you might’ve missed it.

Truth be told, I was Ebony/Jet-free for over a decade–lang, lang, dankey years as my grandmother would say–until a friend recently sent me an article from titled, “Blessings and Options: A senseless murder and the death of hope. There were other options.”

The Jan 2009 piece from the Living/Health & Fitness section cautions:

“If all else fails, UPS is hiring.”

That’s a long-standing joke in the Black community intended for people whose lofty dreams don’t turn out according to plan…

Apparently nobody ever said this to Ervin Lupoe who… killed his wife and five beautiful, healthy, innocent children.

The author, Eric Easter, dislikes the news coverage that made the murder-suicide “about the perils of the nation’s economy and the desperation of the average working man.” He tries to set the record (and the race) straight because “Lupoe had options,” ranging from UPS & some 113 other jobs in Lupoe’s field of work. (Easter even notes that the suicide note had spelling errors, subtly taking issue with Lupoe’s grammar.)

I agree that there were other options as Ebony/Jet points out the parents could have sought counseling. Who wouldn’t agree? But that’s not the issue.

Instead of listing places that one needing mental health services can visit, ties this tragedy to another–an initial brainstorm session during the launch of

“When we launched this website, my colleagues and I had an idea to run a looped video of a cotton field as a permanent reminder to people of how far we’ve come, even in our worst times. It may be time to revisit that idea.”

WOW! This brings to mind that controversial/censored Boondocks episode regarding the reformation of (Viacom’s) BET, no?

Nowhere does this piece discuss the fact that mental health coverage is tied to employment. This fact seems to be an awfully important point to consider in a piece geared toward the “us/we”–Black Americans–who are twice as likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, and thus more likely to be without (mental) health coverage.

How far “we” have “come,” indeed? Doesn’t it seem like just another version of that woeful media coverage of the “realization of THE DREAM” that always seems to “threaten” Black people: stop making slavery excuses now that Obama is president?

I don’t think this piece is as progressive as the author thinks it is. Matter of fact this seems like another version of late 19th century/early 20th century Booker T. version of Racial Uplift, you know: pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps or cast-down-your-bucket.

Talk about “what can Ebony, err brown, do for you”?

I guess instead of putting the looping image of the cotton field, the Lupoe family and “UPS is hiring” are supposed to help “whip us” into moral and mental shape?

What do you think?