By: Rebecca S. Jones
African-American News &Issues
HOUSTON- African-American News & Issues was established out of a vision by Roy Douglas Malonson to report and present events and occurrences both current and historical that affect members of the Black community. As often stated by the publisher, “without fear or favor” we strive to uphold and stand by that mission.
African-American News & Issues is approaching its 18 years of existence. Throughout that time, the Black community has seen very prominent and pivotal points in history as well as grim and dark moments. However, as we begin another year of reporting events, realities, news, issues and information germane in the Black community, we must take a review of five of the biggest problems that are prevalent within the African-American community. They range from: disrespect of the president, women in prison, the breakdown of the Black family, failure of the educational system and disregard for human life.
Disrespect of First Black President:
Since July 4, 1776 the date that America was established as an independent nation, every president that has occupied the seat of presidency has been White, that is until 2008. In times past, there remain presidents that have had all manner of accusations and scandals brought against them. Yet, none of them have seen the level of disregard and impertinence as President Barack Obama. People have pointed their fingers in his face, the ongoing saga pertaining to his citizenship which has been proven long ago has become a never ending issue, among so many other demeaning tactics and folly.
There is nothing new in terms of citizens criticizing a president’s Administration policies, that is merely politics. But the things that have been said and done about President Barack Obama are totally insane.
Mitch McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky made it his business in 2010, to boisterously complain and exemplify his discontent of President Obama. He made a public announcement that his single most important political goal was to ensure that President Obama would be a one-term president.
In September of 2011 Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Andrew Boehner refused a speech date request from President Obama in regards to addressing Congress. Never before in American history has a president been denied the right to address Congress. But then again, as previously mentioned never before in American history has the office of presidency been occupied by a man of African descent.
Another form of disrespect that has been imposed on the president is the fact that the GOP House, prompted by the Tea Party refused to raise debt ceiling. How ironic is it that the debt ceiling has been raised 69 times throughout the course of the last fifty years without question or hesitation? But now all of a sudden a new precedent has been set in place as it relates to raising the debt ceiling.
Although, political disagreements are quite usual in the field of politics, it is highly unusual for an individual of public office to point his or her finger in a superior’s face. As this was demonstrated when the president came face to face with the finger of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
To make matters worst we can not forget the antagonizing strategy upheld by Sarah Palin who begin to define the President in terms of “foreign” and “alien”. This was all reared in response to President Obama’s natural right of citizenship that has been up for discussion since he first begin campaigning for the seat of presidency. Even after he was elected he underwent much controversy from Donald Trump who insisted that President Obama, “show him his papers”. Never before has a president had to endure such humiliation and disrespect.
Women in Prison:
There was a time some years ago, where prison was not a problem that plagued women in the Black community on such an enormous scale. This is not to state that women have just started facing interactions with the judicial system. However, such a scenario is becoming increasingly common in African-American communities. The reason why this topic has been defined as one of our biggest problems is because it is an issue that members of the Black community need to be made aware of. It is a sad reality that, Black women are twice more than likely to be jailed and/or imprisoned than Hispanics and three times more than likely of White women.
According to Earl Ofari Hutchison, “From 1930 to 1950 five women’s prisons were built nationally. During the 1980’s and 1990’s dozens more prisons were built, and a growing number of them are maximum-security women’s prisons.” Even in spite of the constructing of all of the women prisons that have been built to accommodate female inmates, prisons are still overpopulated and understaffed.
Time on the Inside, reveals painful and disturbing depictions of the callous, inhumane treatment many women undergo while in the custody of women’s maximum security jails. Even after being released from incarceration, it is not a safe bet to believe that all women have been rehabilitated. In fact, in some cases some leave out of jail or prison much worst off than what they were at first.
This growing phenomenon is one that is causing our homes to be broken, children are being raised without a sense of true family structure. The incarceration of Black women are causing the responsibility of mother’s roles to be shifted to grandparents or other relatives, foster homes, children protective services and ultimately ‘the streets’. This element averts the parental nurturing and bond that a child should receive from his or her mother and places it in the hands of other individuals who may not otherwise treat a child the way a biological parent would. Thus, this never ending cycle creates a wheel of violence, crime, poverty, drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, imprisonment and various ills that plague the youth of the Black community.
Failure of the Educational System:
Years ago it was against the law for slaves to be educated. They were made to steal away late at night or find new and innovative ways to communicate with one another in order to share the little knowledge they acquired.
Now here it is over a century later and there remain gaps within the educational system that have yet to be filled.
According to Bruce Weston a Harvard graduate, in the 1960’s when the time came to, “address the yawning social gap between the races and the educational system the decision was made to build more prisons.”
Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Princeton, Angel Harris gives an account of a devastating fact, “On average, Black and Latino students are graduating from high school with the same skill set that Whites had in the eighth grade.” He went on to state that, “while from the 1960’s to 2000 there was a slight narrowing of the attainment gap, it was so slight that it would take 60 years in reading and 100 in math to achieve equality.”
This measurement shows no sign of encouragement to the Black community if changes are not made within the public school system. There definitely has been a problem with children in Black communities being properly educated to compete in a technologically advancing world whereas millions of others are already being properly trained and prepared for.
Former President George W. Bush, took a stab at implementing a policy that he thought would close the educational gap in the school system: No Child Left Behind. This policy placed emphasis on standardized tests and a regimen of punitive measures for schools. Nevertheless, these measures proved to not be beneficial in the areas that the educational system needed .
If the educational gap within the Black community is to be mended then considerations such as: placing greater emphasis on early childhood education, better training of teachers and educators in dealing with children with special needs and underdeveloped skills, breakdown of smaller classes, more awareness on basic nutrition and health, and; less emphasis on standardized tests should be implemented or at least researched.
Disregard for Human Life
Government numbers, while imperfect, show the homicide rate in cities of 1 million or more declining to 11.9 per 100,000 U.S. residents in 2008 from 35.5 in 1991, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
There has been a so many senseless killings over the past several decades. The victims are African-Americans males younger than 30 and the killers are other young Black males. It’s a grim cycle, that is only magnifying. It’s sad to say, but, high homicide rates are mainly in poor Black neighborhoods. Black on Black violence and crimes appears to be ever present. Retaliation is a recurring theme in the homicides which perpetuates the cycle of killing. Something has to be done!
The Breakdown of the Black Family
The sacredness of marriage and a woman and man exchanging marital vows is on the verge of being redefined. There are children having children with no knowledge or resources of how to take care of them. Fathers and mothers abandoning their children so that other individuals can bare that responsibility is rampant in the Black community.
Ultimately, there are serious issues facing America, specifically in the Black community. If every person in every home does not attempt to fix the problems that are existent within his or her own home, then things will only get worst. It all starts at home and trickles down into the church, community, school system and workforce. We are the root to the problem, but how long will it take for every individual in every family to realize such and make adjustments accordingly?