Excuses that Hold no Water
Fifty-five years after the passing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, both the economic and social situations of African Americans remain the same, if not worse than they were before the passing of the bill into law. While the nation continues to make progress through incredible strides in every aspect of human and scientific areas of endeavor, the vast majority of African Americans continue to terribly lag behind. The thought was that the end of racial segregation was going to usher in a time of both social and economic development for African Americans as the people’s lack of progress was often tied to slavery and racial segregation. However, half a century after the Civil Rights Act, the stark reality of the social and economic backwardness of African Americans comes to light when compared to the social and economic situations of the other ethnic groups that made up the nation.
Considering the extraordinary progress that this nation has made right from its birth like no other in the history of the world, people in other parts of the world often wonder why some sections of the population should be struggling socially and economically. Of great interest is the socio-economic backwardness of the African Americans compared to the progress of other ethnic groups that make up the country. For instance, African Americans are at the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder in this country in comparison to other ethnic groups like the Caucasians, Asians, and to some extent, Latinos. In almost all areas of endeavors, African Americans are far behind all other ethnic groups. The people are only in front of Native Americans in all socioeconomic indices.
Collectively as a group of people, there seems to be no direct route to catch up socially and economically with any of the other ethnic groups. There is usually a level of surprise for people from different parts of the world visiting when they see the disparity between African Americans and the other ethnic groups. Newly arriving black African immigrants often go into a great deal of cultural shock when they discover that they are better off than their American ethnic brothers and sisters socially and economically in most cases. What could be responsible for the people to be collectively backward socially and economically in the nation that gave the world the airplane, internet, and other significant technological and scientific innovations? Why should there be people that are outrageously and financially backward in a nation that produced most of the wealthiest people in the world?
Many reasons have been given for the negative socioeconomic position of the people. To a highly discerning individual, the reasons often given to be responsible for this situation are mostly excuses. One of the rationalizations usually offered is the historical background of the people concerning the slavery experiences of the ancestors of the people. The claim is that the enslavement of the originally indented African laborers and the subsequent shipment of Africans as slaves, which lasted over two hundred years, is one of the factors responsible for keeping the people down. Similarly, the effect of the racial segregation policies created after the slaves became free – which lasted for almost a hundred years – is another reason often given as the cause of this problem. After the end of the segregation period, other proffered rationales include racial discrimination that targets blacks from getting access to opportunities. Another excuse often made is an unequal justice system that focuses on extreme punishment of crimes committed by blacks as another factor keeping the people back both socially and economically.
There is no doubt whatsoever that all of the reasons often given as responsible for the socio-economic backwardness of the people could be legitimate to some extent. However, these excuses will continue to hinder the people from moving forward because excuses are not good and valid reasons for failure. People must be ready to make the right decisions and have the right attitude to face the challenges of life. Talking of excuses, one of the other unfortunate aspects of the factors contributing to the socio-economic backwardness of African Americans is the claim that being in the minority among the nation’s different ethnic groups is contributing to their disadvantage. The general assumption is that white people are using their large population numbers and economic success to suppress African Americans. There is nothing that could be further from the truth as there are other areas where numbers matter, but it is certainly not here.
To belong to the minority ethnic group in this country is not a legitimate excuse to not realize and enjoy American success. After all, other minority ethnic groups are doing exceptionally well socially and economically, considering all other factors. For instance, the success of the Asian American proves that with the right approach and attitude, anyone can become successful in this country whether or not one happens to belong to any of the minority ethnic groups. Another hole in the claim that belonging to a minority ethnic group is the reason for the socio-economic backwardness of the African Americans is the fact that almost all black African immigrants in this country are flourishing in their various callings. Similarly, most Latino immigrants that came to the country legally – except for those who are illegals and have to live in the shadows – are doing great socially and economically.
Could there be other reasons apart from the effects of slavery, racial segregation, and discrimination that are responsible for the socio-economic situation of the people? Could a condition in which the actions and attitudes of the people to life be among the reasons why they are struggling to take their rightful position among other successful ethnic groups? Is it right and fair to suggest that absolute dependence on the government for survival might have robbed the people from taking on the responsibility of self-realization? What impact is the ineptitude of leadership playing in the lack of positive motivation of the people to greatness? Why is it that the release of human ingenuity that made this nation great lacking within the African American community when compared to the other ethnic groups? What role is ignorance, desire to be seen as victims, and the culture of defiance playing in depriving the people of opportunities to progress? Has it ever occurred to the older generations, the civil, religious, and political leaders that they have the responsibility to leave the coming generations with a better future?
Finally, has it ever occurred to the people that the situation in which they collectively embraced a singular approach to issues is not working for them? For instance, why should almost the whole community give allegiance to only one political thought? Is it reasonable to label anyone among them who embraces different views and political interests as a traitor? How far should failed attempts to be in defiance of law enforcement be encouraged? When are the people going to accept the fact that this is the only country they ever knew and be ready to acknowledge this as an unchangeable fact – unless one wants to immigrate to some other place? Are the people ever going to embrace other ethnic groups as fellow citizens and live peacefully together? But then, are the people ready to face and accept the truth that they are and should be responsible for their current situation? Are they prepared to wean themselves from the excuses of the past and squarely face the future to attain for themselves both social and economic progress that will take them to the same desirable height as the other successful ethnic groups?
These issues and questions need vigorous and faithful attention and consideration if there is ever going to be any positive and noticeable change to the social and economic situation of the people. The failure to honestly face these issues and questions and deal with them accordingly will amount to nothing other than to continue to hide our heads in the sand – like the ostrich – while above, the problems persist, and the storm continues to rage on. One of the discoveries made in the process of writing this book is that the vast majority of the people are not ready to face reality. Another discovery made is that it is highly stressful for most people to accept that they are wrong in their approach to the problems they are facing. It is going to be extremely difficult to change course and approach the issues and factors responsible for the socio-economic backwardness of the people until they are ready to face reality and accept that their faults are contributing immensely to the situation.
The truth is that all problems that are truly responsible for the socio-economic backwardness of the people will never go away as long as the current approaches and attitudes persist. There is always the need to realize that it is time to change a failing approach after many years of the same result. Furthermore, people should learn from history that not all struggles result in positive outcomes – possibly because of the methods that such struggles took. Some struggles need to compromise on their strategies and the attitudes of those in the struggles to achieve change. It is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that African Americans need to effect changes to their current approaches and attitudes to realize the desired change that will usher in their social and economic progress.
In order to arrive at the point that will enable the needed change, there is the necessity to examine and discuss the issues, factors, and reasons that are responsible for the current socio-economic backwardness of the people. It is also essential to have a sincere examination and discussion of these factors, issues, reasons, and find areas needing change. Doing this will create opportunities to find solutions that will assist the people in changing the negative attitudes and approaches that are working against the progress of the people. However, there is a need for caution here. Some issues that are tough, challenging, and controversial to many are going to be examined and discussed in this book. Nevertheless, it is essential to be as impassionate as possible to discover the root causes of the problems facing the people. It will be impossible to attain any tangible and positive change without exposure of the truth for fear of offending some people. More importantly, papering over the issues will make it eternally unattainable to achieve the needed change that will bring progress as long as the root causes of the problems responsible for the people’s economic and social backwardness are not dealt with.
The Modern-Day Form of Slavery,
and Those in Slavery Are Not Aware
Without doubt, the United States of America is recognized as one of the greatest countries in the history of the world. Right from its creation and the Declaration of Independence, there were indications that the nation was destined for greatness like no other nation. Signs of this greatness came to the fore through the extraordinary ingenuity displayed by the people in all spheres of life right from its inception. The nation shot to the forefront of innovation through many discoveries in technology, science, medicine, and education, among others. Also, the United States helped to end two world wars to the credit of its political and military leadership. For decades now – if not hundreds of years – the United States of America has been the most prosperous and wealthiest nation in the world. Finally, the country landed a man on the surface of the moon, to name a few examples of its greatness. However, and in spite of all of these achievements, the nation has had to experience some dark spots in its history.
For instance, the United States was at the forefront of the enslavement of black Africans brought into the country initially as indentured laborers but who were subsequently forced into slavery. The nation had to fight a civil war before it could end slavery and set the people free. In spite of this, the freed slaves and generations of their descendants suffered unimaginable racial discrimination through the policy of racial segregation for several decades. Other dark spots in the history of the nation include the assassination of four sitting presidents: Abraham Lincoln, James Abram Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Also, an attempt was made on the life of President Ronald Regan, but he survived the attack. However, the most troubling aspect of the dark spots in the life of the nation is the socio-economic backwardness of the vast majority of African Americans.
The lack of socio-economic progress of most African Americans is troubling in a nation with almost a quarter of the world’s wealth. Nearly 21 percent of African Americans are living below the poverty line, while the annual household income of blacks is the lowest among all the ethnic groups in the country. The level of high school dropouts among African American high schoolers is the second highest to that of the Native Americans Teenage parenthood is higher among the young females in this community than any of the other ethnic groups in the country. The death rate of African American youths between 16 and 35 years of age through violence is astronomical, while the impact of illicit drugs is the destruction of both the young and old more than other ethnic groups per population ratio. Furthermore, the population of African Americans incarcerated for various criminal offenses is the highest of all races.
Also, the family system of African Americans is disappearing at an alarming rate as most children are born to and raised by single parents. Finally, the level of social defiance among young males has become a matter of great concern to anyone who cares. The question then is, “Why should the nation that sent a man to the surface of the moon still have these types of problems plaguing its society?” That is what this book intends to discuss dispassionately with the hope that it will help to find practical solutions to the problems confronting the African American community in the United States of America today. It is certain that a lot of people, including both white and black, will vehemently disagree with many of the issues suggested as causing the problems confronting African Americans and the proffered solutions to these problems. However, I hope that this book will assist in starting substantive discussions on the current situation of African Americans.
Because of many clear indications, it is beyond argument to assert that African Americans appear trapped in the form of modern-day slavery that exists mainly in the United States today. This is not a forced form of slavery; however, it was designed deliberately by an informed and deliberate strategy to keep this particular section of the society in perpetual dependence on the government. The plan to keep African Americans permanently make the people to be dependent on the welfare program was formulated as a means to an end. The policy was designed that anyone trapped in its vicious cycle will support the political party that designed it for free votes as long as possible. The plan, seen from a superficial perspective, was considered by uninformed people as the government trying to alleviate the problems facing people of low income. However, the purposefully designed policy tied to the welfare benefit programs is to make the people perpetually dependent on government. It is an open secret that L.B. Johnson stated privately that the Democratic Party would have the votes of the black for the next 200 years as a result of the program.
Unfortunately, at the implementation of the first welfare program, the majority of African Americans were living well below the national poverty line. As President Johnson predicted, the Democratic Party has continued to enjoy the overwhelming votes of African Americans ever since. The majority of African Americans behave as if their existence and survival depend on an unfailing loyalty to the party. This behavior is in spite of all the detrimental policies of the party and its various governments from local, state, to the federal government on the people. Only a few African Americans that saw through the original intention of the Democratic Party have detached and freed themselves from unquestionable loyalty to the Party. However, the level of dependency and negative side-effects the welfare program has created for African Americans are far more than can be imagined.
The effects of having to depend on the welfare program by African Americans has led to a destroyed family system, with over 70 percent of children brought up by single parents. African Americans experience more high school dropouts than any other ethnic group except Native Americans. The community also has to confront the refusal of agile and abled young men to pursue gainful employment. Finally, African American neighborhoods are under the pressure of illicit narcotic drugs and gang-related violence. Nevertheless, the argument may arise that the people were not under any obligation to make the decisions to pursue any of the lifestyles listed above. This assertion may be accurate; however, the primary purpose of the welfare benefits policy was to return the people to an unseen but effectual plantation where all the effects and experiences of the historical plantations are visible. Because the initial purpose of creating the welfare benefits program is working as envisaged, it is evident to the discerning that the people are held in bondage both spiritually and psychologically. The majority of the people believe that they are incapable of lifting themselves out of the rot that the welfare programs have brought them. Those among the younger generations who do try to get out of the situation, unfortunately, take the wrong route through criminal activities and other rebellious behaviors.
The creators of the welfare programs knew precisely how it would make the beneficiaries become utterly dependent on the handouts and continue to be loyal to the political party that ‘helped’ them. It was soon after the implementation of the program that there began the disintegration of the African American family system. which began as soon as the people knew they could game the system. They knew that they stand a better chance to obtain a more substantial amount of financial benefits if there is no man in the home. Therefore, married couples decided to live separately and got more financial assistance than married couples living together. And thus, so began and continues till now the disintegration of the African American family system. Men left their homes and lived alone only to visit to check on their families once in a while.
The arrangement to set up two homes led to infidelity among husbands and wives, then followed by spates of divorces. Eventually, the situation got to the point in which African American women realized that they did not need men in the home to ‘raise’ children and survive. However, the adverse effects of single parenthood and its failure on especially young black men are incredibly tremendous. It is much easier for women to have a level of parental control over female children probably because of their gender affinity. The same is not the case with male children. The absence of fathers at home creates problems for the single women that resulted in the inability to provide leadership and direction that only fathers can give. It stands to be disproved that the adverse effects of single parenthood is one of the most significant factors causing the lack of social and economic progress in the African American community today. The welfare benefit programs have created the culture of a boyfriend-girlfriend in which men and women live together without any commitment to marriage. With these types of arrangements and associations, the children of such associations are and become victims.
Because of the negative impacts the welfare programs have had on the families such as with single mothers solely responsible for the upbringing of their children, it is often difficult to do an excellent job of child-raising. The situation is more real with boys where the fathers are absent from home to provide direction, leadership, and love that only the presence and commitment of fathers at home can offer. The result is that single mothers are mostly incapable of handling teenage young men whose first significant life decision is often to go out of the house to look for the direction and leadership that the absentee fathers could not provide. The next major life decision made by most of the young men raised by single mothers is to drop out of high school as soon as they turn seventeen. Once most drop out of school, the next decision on the list is to join a gang and begin a life of crime, constant visits to jail, and prison.
Around the same time that they drop out of high school, they look for and find girlfriends for themselves that will make them fathers by the time they turn eighteen. The girlfriends/teenage mothers are mostly high school dropouts themselves. By this time, the young men have matured through mentoring by older gang members into the life of serious crimes. To advance as amateur criminals to the status of professional ones, they are made to get involved in breaking petty laws and go in and out of jail for days to months, depending on the level of their criminality. The process helps prepare them to be able to handle tougher situations and encounters with law enforcement as well as time in prison. However, those among these young people who are fortunate enough to realize that they have made some major life mistakes and retrace their steps often end up with low paying jobs, like working at fast-food establishments. If they are unfortunate to realize their mistakes, some may be dead before they turn 25 – leaving behind three or more fatherless children from more than one woman.