CRABS IN A BARREL
Written May 21, 2021
We've all heard the term, "crabs in a barrel" used to express frustration with others who seem to be pulling another person down. I remember DL Hughley saying that the crabs aren't the problem—its the barrel. When crabs are put in a barrel, overcome by the desperation of captivity, they claw, grab, and pull one another down in order to escape. Our miseducation has taught us to view "Crabs in a barrel" as a representation of people who do not want others to make it out. This is the logic of a colonized mind, made to believe that the inability to overcome the colonizer's obstacles is inherent to the colonized subject and not a product of the conditions created by colonization.
Black people have been posing the same question for decades "How do we stop Black on Black violence?" Elders blame the young, the young blame the old no one places the blame where it belongs, at the feet of the oppressor. Violence, poverty, and suffering are not inherently Black these are things that have been imposed upon Black people for centuries. Bobby E. Wright explained it in his essay, The Psychopathic Racial Personality: "Blacks kill Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites, therefore, it is outside of their experience. Historically, the European system has encouraged the killing of Blacks and since Black's have been led to believe that they are part of the psychopath's system, they simply follow the practice.
COLONY: a body of people living in a new territory
Blacks in housing projects, impoverished neighborhoods, and in prisons are as colonized as crabs in a barrel. Only a mind liberated from the fetters of indoctrination can understand that there is no standard or rational reaction to confinement. Whether confined to a cell, an impoverished community, or a barrel the natural reaction is to get out. Crabs are unable to understand the barrel as a construct that confines them. Because confinement is an alien concept to free born organisms.
They must devolve in order to understand the concept of captivity and adjust to said insanity. The barrel represents the structures of white supremacy that inhibit natural and upward mobility. One of my favorite examples of the invisible lines that confine us is the designation law enforcement gives to communities of color, such as "high crime areas." The rules are simple— whoever defines also confines. The notion of a high crime area pits the onus on the impoverished community as an inherently criminal space, when in reality high crime areas are in fact, "low resource areas." The state creates the problem of poverty and then blames the people for reacting poorly. This is a sign of a skilled abuser, the most effective oppressors can abuse a person or people and make them think its their own fault. Thus, we blame each other for being crabs in a barrel and ignore the violence of poverty.
Until we are able to focus on the deconstruction of barrels we will continue to condemn the community instead of conspiring to correct the condition. Correcting the condition begins with educating the people. Liberation is always rooted in the gaining of knowledge. Harriet Tubman said that she would have freed more of her enslaved brothers and sisters except, "They didn't know they were slaves." I have news for you, if you hate crabs in a barrel, you are still under the master's control.
Our inability to see the barrel in proper context is due to miseducation. We have been taught how to see ourselves and our surroundings through slavemaster's eyes. Therefore, we must be cognizant of all forms of confinement from misogyny to school curriculum. Dr. Lerone Bennet Jr. said that an educator, in a state of oppression, is either a revolutionary, or "himself an oppressor." Be mindful of what confines you.
until we return to the shores.