Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

December 07, 2005

Black America: equality, crime and education

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said in 1988: "I am leaving this legacy to all of you to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfilment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die - the dream of freedom and peace."

Rosa Parks made her stand in Alabama on 1 December 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man and sparked the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott and the beginning of the US civil rights movement. The rebellious act, at the time, could have meant a jail sentence or even the risk of death by vigilantes. She was arrested and fined 14 dollars.

The boycott was organized by a then little-known Baptist minister called Martin Luther King Junior. A year later, in March 1956 Dr. King was found guilty of conspiracy to boycott the buses in Montgomery, but a judge suspended his 500 dollar fine, pending an appeal. The boycott came a year after the US Supreme Court outlawed deliberate racial segregation in public schools in 1954. Clinton High School became the first state-supported school in Tennessee to integrate in August 1956.

More boycotts, sit-ins and protest marches resulted in the 1960s legislation which outlawed racial discrimination and the establishment of the emancipation of black people in the United States of America.

African-Americans are freer, wealthier and more influential forty years after the Voting Rights Act, but while the achievements of those who struggled to get emancipation and equality are celebrated, many African-Americans are still questioning how far they have really come.

More from Wanabehuman.

1 Comments:

At 5:36 PM, Blogger dawoud_almajid said...

The arguement both for and against reparation for
africans in america in recompense for the crime
of slavery and a diminished status in this country
goes a little something like this.
the blacks know that they have been victimized and
short changed in this country. every time
they hear the phrase " the land of the free, and the
home of the brave " they cringe at the hypocracy of
it all. Most blacks in america live with a persistant
low level fear and paranoia that is a direct result of the
land of their birth and heritage. although african-
americans are decended from africa, they have no idea
of the culture, mores, or languages or from even from
which tribe/ and or tribes they may come from. to add
insult to injury, africa is consistantly denigrated
in american media and acedemia as well. therefore contrary
to all that is beneficial to good mental heatlh they
consider themselves to be american, they pay taxes,
they distinguish themselves in the army, they
believe in the American dream. but somehow they
are not quite American. white is American, they are
"niggers",and everything that word entails.
no matter how hard they work, what they
achieve, or how low and debased they may be
they are treated as "niggers",equally, somehow less than
an american, one who is worthy of scorn or pity, harassment,
unemployment, poverty, social services programs (so
that he/or she can learn to adjust) to the american
way. if that fails, he or she can find officially
sanctioned imprisonment or death. however, he/or she
can choose any path in life, poverty and crime, or, fortune,
and fame, sports,and entertainment come to mind.
america really has come a long way, from chattel slavery,
even though the road to the appearance of equality
in the united states was neither voluntary, nor pretty.
but that's a tale for another essay. but the apperance
exists in the america of today.
and this is the time when reparations are being addressed.

in this era of government austerity and the pull yourself
up by the bootstraps theory of economics which is currently
in fashion, the idea of another "entitlement" is repugnant
to most of the american public. Those who oppose reparations
for slavery on the grounds that it is just another government
handout have been under the mistaken presumption that the
government has ever given anything to the
African Americans that is
beneficial to them. some will site the end of slavery or civil
rights legislation as gifts to the black people, but these
were not gifts they were earnings.
However, when asked whether or not the government of the
United States owes it's African American population a debt
of gratitude and some sort of reparation for their treatment.
the whites especially, some people of other races, as
well as some blacks say. I never had any slaves, the black
people of today weren't slaves, honestly, they don't even
know anyone who was a slave, they don't deserve reparations
for something that happened so long ago.
Why should i have to pay my taxes to pay for slavery?
I think that is an excelent question.
So i shall answer it to the best of my ability.
America is ill, she is sick to her very core,
suffering from a growing cancer called unfinished business.
She is dying and the only way that she can be saved is to
fix what is broken.
She calls herself free, but one people show proof to the world
and to america herself that she is a liar.
She proclaims life,liberty and the persuit of happiness.
But to those same people she has done nothing but deny
those very things.
This is usually the point when the whites of today will either
say, something nasty and racist, or deny that they are racist
at all. Some will even claim to have black friends or lovers.
that's okay and even welcomed. It's stupid to have hatred
because of a persons biological composition.
However from it's very beginnings America was an incubator
of racism and ethnic hatreds. the African slaves and their
decendants were a welcome relief to the arriving immigrants.
to the exception of maybe the Chinese, or the Japanese,
no, blacks were a relief to them too.
By relief, i mean that none of the new
arrivals had to worry about being at the absolute bottom
of the American social order,or being persecuted as the ruthlessly as
they may have been in their native lands due to religion, or ethnicity
For the European immigrants, barriers of language and culture
could be overcome in a generation or two and they could
successfully blend into the melting pot. For Asians and
other immigrants, even those who had come voluntarily
from Africa, they could rely upon their culture and customs
to bind them to their communities and aid in their economic
integration into the american landscape.
The african american had no such relief, he had no culture or customs,
He was the very bottom of the american social order.
Before emancipation he was a slave. after emancipation he was a slave,
who happened to be free. but how free was he, he had no food, very little
clothing and no shelter. Some may argue that there were and had always
been a number of free blacks,to which i say, so what!!! The majority of
blacks in the United States were slaves and the free blacks weren't
treated all that well either. that was in 1865. the brief period known
as reconstruction, in which blacks made spectacular gains, due to the
reparative nature of such institutions as the Freedman's Bureau, and the
13th, 14th and 15th amendments can not be ignored. It only shows in more
glaring detail how the swift elimination of these gains, sanctioned
by the government and it's duly elected representatives, added to the
almost more than 300 years of slavery that had been inflicted upon
the black people up to that point, which served to keep him in an oppressed state.
Jim Crow is the common shorthand for the legislation and social contract
that served to keep blacks socially and economically isolated from the american
mainstream. It was very effective, denied access to money, property, employment,
real estate, and entreprenurial expertise, It is miraculous that African-Americans
have managed to make any gains at all. Actually, it's because they haven't, the
gains are illusionary. To the naked eye, it appears as though blacks have made
great progress in the modern post civil rights era America. many examples can be
noted. Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and numerous others whose names
seem to slip my mind because i was hoping to be able to name people other than
atheletes or entertainers. However, a majority of African Americans live in abject
poverty in the land of plenty. It is true as well, that there is an expanding middle
and professional class of African Americans which has bloomed in the decades following
the legislation that the civil rights leaders fought and some died for. This was a
direct result of compensatory actions in the form of affirmative action. it was not
enough, it has never and was never intended to address the basic issues of the African
American's lack of economic progress. It was a band-aid, a compromised, racially
devisive band-aid, to force people to hire people, and to allow them to enroll
in schools and to live in certain areas. it is a disgusting farce which shines
the light on the racist culture that is alive and well in the United States today.
to see it's effects all one has to do is look at the composition of america's major
cities and suburban areas. White flight explains it all. how free can you really
be in a place where the dominant culture has decided that rather than live, work, or
worship with blacks they would rather abandon the city center and move to a
more racially homogeneous suburb or rural area. this occured during the 1960's and
1970's. The psycological effects, were dramatic, but the divisions were political.
Because now all but the select and blessed few were consigned to areas which had been
all but written out of the mainstream. There were few owner occupied structures, most had
absentee landlords who now lived outside of the city center, as well. property values spiraled,
the tax base had all but evaporated. school funding took major hits,
the industries which had once fueled the urban economy
had relocated to more "accessable locations" along major freeways and ex-urban business
developments. blacks to whom the previously non-exsistant lines of credit were now available
soon began to leave the city center,as well, under the guise of seeking a better life.
the whites then left the near suburbs, fleeing the new arivals
to locations ever more distant from the despised "niggers."
this brings us to today where the demographic patterns of modern day America expose
a deeper racism than any white person is truely comfortable hearing.
Falsely believing that issues of race and color are out of bounds in today's colorblind
democracy. Believing that we are all equal under the law, believing that blacks that
complain about racism and the effects of a racist legacy such as police brutality
and denial of employment and educational opportunities are either exaggerating
or are simply playing the race card, as if in their America there is no race card to be
played, or that blacks take too great of an advantage with the playing of said card.
All the while believing that blacks should stop asking for handouts, and adjust to
the new economy, and a colorblind America. Not understanding that their own denial of
the problems of race are the biggest barriers to true repair.
This is because America is sick, she is suffering from
a rapidly growing cancer called unfinished business. She can not survive very long
calling herself free when one half of her prisons are populated by the desendants of
her slaves.
She cannot export the sort of democracy that is in effect here, around the world. It would be
very dangerous. Can you imagine the kind of world where there were many democracies
and they were all plagued by the sort of state sanctioned terrorism which has sustained
this style of democracy for it's entire history. If you don't believe me just look at
the documentary evidecnce of atrocities commited during just the civil rights era, a
thorough examination of all the documentary evidence during just the years that this
land has been called the United States of America reavels even more horror. However the
history of oppression, denial, and at best benign neglect has been occuring in this land
to these people for even longer than the history of the country itself. if that isn't
shameful enough. I'm sure the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims will recall
the story of Pharoh and Moses, with his plea to let my people go.
The atheist or non affiliated may recognise the
wisdom in the statement "a house divided against itself can not stand"
and a cold hearted racist of any persuasion understands that you can only
kick a dog for so long before it turns on you and bites you in the A@#.
What i am basically saying is that it is in the best interest of all concerned that America
make an attempt to right this historic, and monumental wrong before the
(wrath of god, laws of karma, the laws of thermodynamics)
and all of the other functions of the universe that do not
allow situations that are not correct to persist, come crashing down on us all,
plus it would benefit the country.
you could spend more money on schools than jails, you could retool an entire segment of the
economy to be an asset instead of the burden that it is portrayed as
you could focus the aggressively imperialistic and racist system of economic exploitation
outward and eliminate the 3rd world status that you are rapidly drawing yourself toward
on the whole you could probably elimanate the next round of the american revolution.
because as it stands the policy that America has toward its blacks is creating a new
generation, who will not be moved by peaceful protest, they carry big guns, and have bad attitudes
and have the ability to generate serious funding sources in the extra-legal industries
that prohibition and denial of mainstream opportunity have led them toward in ever larger numbers.
For those of you who believe that prisons, or the national security state will prevent any serious civil disobedience, just
remember that alot of those guys go into prison and come out as militant black nationalists, or
muslims with the potential and the provocation to become radical.
talk about your fifth columns. however, even for the men who come out of prison that aren't
muslims or nationalists they may just become more ruthless and dangerous and focus their attentions on the items that the mainstream flaunts in front of their faces and they wish to acquire, which is dangerous for everyone. That however is not the biggest danger facing our
collective future. The most dangerous aspect is the radicalizing and criminalizing of the black
youth, who's disdain of the status quo and the powers that be run deep.
So please do an honest appraisal of the situation in terms of right and wrong, and dollars and cents,
and come to a conclusion which you feel would be best for America, not just americans.

 

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