As a black person in America, when you attempt to analyze in your mind how much progress we have actually made in the fight for equality there are several factors to include — and since the first law of nature is self preservation, it makes sense to begin measuring this progress by how we as a people are able to create a sustainable life for ourselves, our families and other loved ones.
You may take for granted certain luxuries that 40+ years ago we may have been excluded from, but how likely are the majority of our people to be able to seriously pursue happiness? How many of us are safe and can live freely to pursue our life’s goals, In comparison to white people and other races in America?
In exploring progression it makes sense to begin by looking at employment rates, incarceration rates, also public safety and public health matters and education must also be considered.
Time.com dealt with the incarceration and employment rates in a piece they published a couple of weeks ago on the topic, citing a working paper, by University of Chicago researchers Derek Neal and Armin Rick:
“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act,” the study reads.
Since the great recession began in 2008 unemployment rates have been high for the entire country, yet we know they were much more devastating for black men than any other demographic. We also know that since the so called ‘war on drugs’ began under the Reagan Administration, that incarceration rates for black men have skyrocketed, as have the murder of black men by other blacks. Equally notable is the rate of the police’s murder and assault of black people, which is just as prominent today as it was when the Black Panther Party would conduct neighborhood patrols of the police in the late 60s.
When you consider how romanticized the black struggle for equality has become, particularly with the election of President Barack Obama -- and his constant comparison to Dr. King, and his representation as the person who has finally fulfilled Dr. King’s “dream,” you may be led to suspect that there has been substantial progression. The reality however is that there has been little progression in the black community, in comparison to 40 years ago.
A month ago I didn’t know the name Eric Garner, but now whenever I hear or read that name I feel a little low and seriously pissed. Pissed because it happens so often that on some level you become desensitised to the outrage, the anger and the will to act, but most of all you become complacent.
I’ll deal with that complacency shortly…
So the Time article unveiled a study showing that in the areas of incarceration and employment, compared to white men, the black man is pretty much in the same position as we were 40 years ago -- but what about in the areas of public health, safety and education?
A few months ago there was an article about a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, known as “Hood Disease.” Essentially this “Hood Disease” was found to affect black children in the hood, who have basically been raised in war zones. What is saddest about this analysis is that unlike soldiers returning home from war who may experience forms of PTSD, black children in the hood who experience this disorder as a result of their environment, rarely ever get the opportunity to leave. This alone, brings the public health rating down tremendously. When you add in the effects of the crack epidemic on children currently coming of age in America, as well as the shortage of healthy foods in the urban environment, this country is failing horribly in this area.
Education for black children in America is a joke. Extreme budget cuts by Governor’s and lack of fair funding, have led to a segregated school district resembling a time in American when blacks could not even vote. Public school budgets, particularly in the inner cities have been cut down to bare bones, leaving our children to educate themselves.
The school to prison pipeline, which targets children of color, familiarizes our children with the criminal justice system, preparing them to perpetuate the prison industrial complex, which has turned black men into the new slaves.
What’s most depressing though, is not all of the “problems” mentioned, in comparison to 40 years ago, but the apathy that exists today, and the sense of complacency that currently exists within the black community.
As long as black people are satisfied with the place we currently hold in society our position will never advance. The attack on black men by law enforcement will continue and probably get worse. The public education system will continue to funnel our children into the criminal justice system. Our girls will continue to grow up believing they are not beautiful, and our boys will continue growing up with the “no dad at home” syndrome.
The Civil Rights era in America was suppose to lay the groundwork that today we should be reaping the benefits of, and in some ways we are. Yet, most of the same problems still exist and legislation isn’t solving the problem. Marching and protesting doesn’t seem to be solving our problems.
As I bring this rant to a close, I would seriously like to know from our readers what they realistically feel is necessary in order for black people to progress as race and become self sustaining?