We Are Losing Ground: Moving From Collective Complaints To Collective Action
African Americans are increasingly losing ground in America, but do African Americans really care about the potentially catastrophic and detrimental future it finds itself facing?
It seems like every month here in America, frustrated groups of African Americans are seen protesting, holding rallies, spearheading marches, hosting community forums and reaching out to their elected officials, all in an effort to bring awareness to and address the plight of Black people in this country. Meanwhile, it appears the issues of other cultural groups are not only being acknowledged, they are being addressed on many levels, as Blacks take a backseat to them.
In the midst of these current challenging times, African Americans have had to develop several social, economic and political strategies to counteract and effectively deal with the myriad of systematic abuses and discriminatory policies that have ravished and negatively impacted the Black community, in the same way they have for decades prior. The centuries-old issues of systematic injustice, abuse and discrimination that Black people have had to endure in this country have seemed to weigh so heavily on this group of resilient people, that it is becoming almost tolerant in society by other cultural groups.
But what can and will the African American do to take ownership of this situation and prevent itself from becoming culturally insignificant, as well as stop this downward spiral towards economic, social and political irrelevance?
A new approach and different outlook on dealing with today’s real-world problems is a must if the African American community wishes to control the narrative and its future survival. The African American community must present a realistic solution that must be collectively embraced, and one that can only be implemented by having a solid Black agenda that is viable.
The first step, however, is acknowledging that many of the problems in the Black community that exist are real and must be immediately addressed.
Let’s take a quick look at the economic situation that the African American community faces.
According to data recently released by the Federal Reserve Bank, between 2013 and 2016, during the Obama administration, Black families had a median net worth that was nearly 10 times less than the size of White families, even with comparable levels of education. Going even further, nearly 1 in 5 Black families were reported to have had a zero or negative net worth, which is twice the rate of White families. According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, Black families only earn $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by White families, whereas for every $100 that White families had in wealth, Black families only had $5.04.
As you can see those statistics are extremely alarming, especially when you take into consideration that Black households are on track to spend some $1.5 trillion by 2021. The wealth gap figures are equally as disturbing when you consider that Black people give away 25 percent more of their incomes than Whites, and nearly two-thirds of Black families make charitable donations, mostly to religious institutions, totaling close to $11 billion per year, according to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
Now, let’s venture over to social issues and take a look at many of our longtime problems.
Criminal justice, police brutality, lack of access to affordable healthcare, healthcare disparities, drugs, guns, violence, single family homes, teenage pregnancy, food deserts, and other social ills have plagued the African American community for decades, and continue to do so.
While there are many to highlight, let’s just discuss a few that impact the Black community.
African Americans are at or near the top of every negative statistical category and at or near the bottom of every positive statistical category in this country. The unemployment rate in the African American community is higher than any other cultural group. Traditional African American communities are being ravished, abandoned and even taken over by folks who don’t look like us through gentrification. The voting rights of African Americans are being stripped and challenged daily. Traditional African American schools are being closed at an alarming rate in Black neighborhoods. Roughly 93% of the Black homicides that are committed in this country are being carried out by another Black person. African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of Whites, while the imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of White women. And the list goes on.
According to the NAACP, African American youth represent 32 percent of the children who are arrested, 42 percent of the children who are detained, and 52 percent of the children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court, nationwide. In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that while roughly 17 million Whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within at similar rates, the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of Whites. In addition, African Americans only represent 12.5 percent of illicit drug users, but make up 29 percent of the individuals arrested for drug offenses and 33 percent of the individuals who end up jailed in state facilities for drug offenses. These are but a few of the many social issues facing the Black community
Lastly, let’s look at the political plight that the African American community has had to deal with.
The political power, community strength and political representation within the African American community has weakened as a result of a continuous mass exodus of Black people, away from Black communities and towards suburban communities that are primarily inhabited by other cultural groups. Many African American politicians are either under attack or are being removed from office due to various improprieties.
Although African Americans have been a loyal voting bloc for decades, regardless of party affiliation, they have found themselves at the bottom of the totem pole in many instances, dealing with policies and legislation that has impeded them from effectively moving forward.
Now, in less than one year in office, the Trump administration has reversed the course and stifled any significant gains that the African American community has made after being resilient and committed to trust that the legislative process would work for their greater good.
African American voters turned out in record numbers in 2008 to elect Barack Obama as the first Black president of the United States, with the primary belief that by letting their voices be heard, they would experience the “hope and change” he campaigned on. As a result of that record turnout, African American voters not only helped elect Obama to the highest office in the land, they also helped elect other Democrats to key local, county, state and federal positions, which also allowed Democrats to gain control of both the House and the Senate.
This is important to highlight because, over the last several decades, African Americans have voted for Democratic candidates 94% of the time in critical federal and state elections, but have not benefited as a result of that loyalty, especially as it relates to aggressive policies that specifically address the disparate issues of African Americans.
Ignoring politics is one of the gravest decisions the African American community could make.
All of these issues – economic, social and political – are important to highlight, because they are not going to go away just because the African American community wishes they do.
The Civil Rights movement was effective because its organizers had a plan, enough patience and a level of dedicated persistence to see things through to the end. There is no need to recreate the wheel, but there does need to be a modern day approach to effectively deal with the economic, social and political downfall that African Americans are facing in real time.
There has to be a collective and unified effort to deal with these issues one-by-one and holistically. It is time to turn the collective complaints of African Americans into collective action by African Americans.