Posted on July 1, 2014
Blacks, as well as other racial minorities, have been fighting for true equality in America since the birth of this nation. At this point in America’s ambivalent history, the battle for social and economic equality still continues for blacks, American Indians, Latinos and others. The objective is to get not only whites, but all Americans to realize that there is still much more to be done to try and fix the damage that was done by the crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated and perpetuated against racial minorities in America—the stronghold of liberty and justice.
After whites committed genocide against American Indians, and secured the slave trade-one of a number of heinous institutions that this world has seen, are racial minorities supposed to be appeased by mere legislation in the form of Civil rights and and Affirmative Action that has now been effectively dismantled in its relative infancy before it ever had a chance to effect sustained change? It would have been nice to let certain programs survive at least a quarter of the time that outright racial prejudice and racial discrimination were the norm in America. After several centuries of forced labor and free real estate that was acquired by unthinkable atrocities, and then leaving thousands of persons virtually homeless and with little to no economic power, does America truly believe that it has ameliorated this situation by telling racial minorities that they are equal in word, but not in deed (pun intended)? Do the majority of Americans sincerely believe that a long and ugly history of exploitation, racism, and the doctrine of manifest destiny on one end of the scales of justice, can be balanced by approximately four decades of halfhearted attempts at spreading “equality”?
It is somewhat ludicrous that in this new millennium, many people still believe that they are inherently superior to others based on their race as opposed to being extremely long term beneficiaries of racial discrimination. To hear someone refer to “coons”, “wetbacks”, “chow meins”, “spicks”, “redskins”, “black jelly beans”, “towel heads”, “niggers”, etc., is basically just ridiculous in a society that should be evolving, and transcending discrimination based on race. But it is just as ridiculous—if not insidious—to close your eyes to the racism in America that continues to rear its ugly head today, especially institutional racism that is as prevalent as ever. Moreover, to downplay or feign ignorance about the dire sociological, psychological, and economical effects that centuries of racism have played upon oppressed persons is perhaps the greatest crime of all. Why do racial minorities make up disproportionate numbers within the military and penal system? Why are racial minorities so highly underrepresented in the boardrooms and classrooms of America? Why is there such a great disparity of social and economic conditions between whites and racial minorities? Could it be that racism in America and racial discrimination still exist, and programs like Affirmative Action were never allowed to reach fruition? After years of socialization through a whip, being overrun by “manifest destiny,” being treated like cattle or legally “three-fifths” of a man, and then later being negatively portrayed in the media (if portrayed at all), virtually being forgotten in school books, and not being paid any serious reparations for hundreds of years of oppression, how can this not have a detrimental effect upon the overall condition and psyche of racial minorities in today’s times? And, to top it all off, the foot soldiers of the race-baited agenda—often camouflaged in religion or some ideology about American ideals—don’t seem to realize that they are more similar socially and economically to peoples of color than the puppeteers at the top who have historically passed laws that are a detriment to all people on the lower rungs of the social and economic ladder. In some respects, the battle for true equality is not just about racism, but”classism”. This is but another reason to overcome the ignorance that belies racism, prejudice and racial discrimination.
People must understand that for America to truly thrive, the undercurrent of ignorance that continues to pervade this country must end. America cannot afford to allow an increasing class of persons to be deprived of social, economic, and educational opportunities because of institutional racism (or anything else, really). If America continues on this course, then this social and economic sore will fester until the pain becomes unbearable. This could ultimately lead to civil unrest, or worse. One only has to study about the decline and fall of Rome to see that one of the main reasons such a powerful empire fell is because of inequality. No state is going to survive in the long run by allowing people in power to put their personal agendas ahead of the good of the state. Racism in all its forms, especially institutional racism that breeds, nurtures and creates all kinds of societal ills is not good for America. Racism must end for America to survive and thrive in an increasingly global economy. Many of us are complacent now, but in another century when approximately half of America will be so-called “minorities,” future generations may look at our inaction to deal forthrightly and openly about racism in America as the Achilles heel that caused America’s demise.
Posted on July 1, 2014
I am sure that we have all heard, and probably agree with on some level, that black Americans will not stick together. In fact, blacks will often hold one another back before they will help one another.
Do we not all wonder why other non-Caucasian ethnic groups can come and prosper in America where blacks have been “free” for decades? Why can”t blacks pool their resources and imitate the success of others? The easy answer is that other ethnic groups did not suffer from the horror and utter dehumanization of America”s slave trade. I realize that many people from other ethnic groups have come of their own free will, while blacks were bought and brought to America in chains. Yes, the institution of slavery has had a profound effect on the black community within the United States. In some respects, even amidst the modest success that blacks are experiencing, it appears that the state of many black neighborhoods, as well as the black state of mind is deteriorating.
The lack of black unity, and blacks’ inability to manifest their own self-determination would shock many of America”s black predecessors. Many would not only be shocked by the relative selfishness, they would be appalled by blacks’ willingness to covet and adopt the values of a society that was birthed on the basis of shameless exploitation and imperialism. Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and even Martin Luther King would probably be surprised by the great economic success of black businessmen, entertainers and athletes, But they would also be shocked to see the lack of improvement and progress within the black community, and even a retrogression in many respects. Of course life has become hard for a growing number of people of all racial groups in America due to an economy that is being hijacked by business executives, financiers, political action committees and lobbyists, but the black community has historically felt the brunt of bad economic times, and, more than a decade into the 21st century, it’s no different than it has ever been for millions of blacks just trying to hang on.
Speaking of hanging on, I am pretty sure that Dr. King, W.E.B. Dubois, Malcolm X and others would be truly mortified to see blacks hanging on the street corner, black couples on Jerry Springer-type TV shows or young blacks on Worldstar acting basically like buffoons, while portraying a lack of morality and pride, or at least common decency, sometimes including violence. Even with all the blatant perversion and ignorance, what would probably trouble black America’s forefathers the most is the increasing disparity between blacks that are “successful” and those existing in socioeconomic desperation, and blacks’ unwillingness to unify and address the problems that lead to widening divisions within the black community.
Until the 1970s, black unity and focus were omnipresent within the black community. All blacks had common struggles and goals, and united to achieve greater objectives, sometimes at their own peril. Their efforts and sacrifices are one of the main reasons why legal slavery and segregation ended. Today, blacks have plenty of the same struggles, but many seem too ignorant to realize it. Social, economic and institutional racism are problems that still need to be addressed. But many rich, affluent, and even some squarely in the middle class have duped themselves into believing that they have “arrived,” while others within the black community are caught up in a cycle of self-victimization. I have a difficult time believing that this is the black America that leaders like Dr. King envisioned. I know that it is not the vision of America that they fought for.
It is somewhat ironic that once some blacks make great economic gains, they are all too willing to fraternize with the very people that would not give them the time of day if it were not for their economic clout. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with socializing with people of other races. In fact, I am all for it. That’s the only way we will ever genuinely come together as a nation. But as opposed to valuing a superficial relationship simply for social reasons because you’ve “made it” at the expense of other relationships with persons that you used to identify with for many different reasons, perhaps these people should continue to recognize what is “real”, or—at the very least—try and build bridges of common ground between their new worlds (so to speak). To get “brand new” and “above it all” because of your exploding or overflowing pocketbooks speaks to a certain lack of empathy and wisdom, if not irony and downright hypocrisy. Another subtle irony is that some of the people that live within these black communities can find ways to scrounge a few coins together to buy a pack of Newports or a bottle of Cisco, and then sit around and commiserate about how whites have held the black man down. They may sometimes continue on about how blacks who value discipline, education and hard work are sellouts to their race. Ironically, they offer these critiques while they partake of the vices that that they have cooperated to purchase. This example may seem ludicrous, but it is perhaps closer to the truth than not. Moreover, even families and friends within the black community sometimes pool their resources to throw some pretty elaborate parties for this or that, but don’t even consider investing in something that may actually build wealth or morale (in it’s truest sense of the word) for the family and each of its individual parts as a whole. And, guess what? At some of these parties, when politics comes up, there will be the same commiseration about the state of the black community, with no one ultimately raising finger to do anything for their own families or friends, much less the black community on a wider scale.
What some blacks do not realize is that they will always be black first in the eyes of many whites, and they are subject to these same whites’ perspectives—the same whites that are more than likely their bosses, coworkers, teachers, judges, etc. Their black skin color summons the same images that more than a few whites associate with all blacks. Likewise, there are blacks that always cry “racism”, and are eager to label someone who is “about something” as a sellout. These blacks seem unwilling to exercise the discipline and take the steps necessary to improve their condition while always volleying excuses. They fail to realize that, in many ways, they are just as much the “sellouts” of their own black community as the people that refuse to give back. In my opinion, both positions are morally bankrupt.
Let me use a variation of an analogy that my father told me when I was growing up. He compared blacks that are unwilling to help one another to crabs in a bucket. If one has seemingly made it to the top and is about to get out, the others—in their own desperation—pull him back down. Ironically, all of them are too ignorant to realize that with cooperation, they can all help to pull each other out of the bucket if they chain in black unity. But, alas, in the end they are all cooked.