By Roy D. Malonson
We as African-Americans have the key but we have locked our own selves up; becoming prisoners within our own minds. We possess a great deal of power, not only because of our ancestral history but because of the strength and knowledge that we have acquired down through the years. However, there remain many issues and problems within the Black community that are often overlooked. They range from: disrespect of the president, women in prison, the breakdown of the Black family, failure of the educational system, disregard for human life and Black buying power.
Disrespect of First Black President:
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. 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.
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.
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 the 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.
Even after the President was elected he still 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. 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.
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’. 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.
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 ever present 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?
Failure of the Educational System:
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.
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.
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 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!
Black Buying Power
One of the most powerful forces that we as African-Americans have is our economical buying power. However, many African-Americans do not realize the extent of the resources that they have readily available at their disposal; this is evident because it is so freely given away. Financially whoever we support is who we empower rather knowingly or not. We spend our money loosely.
Specifically in our region of the country, we have the power and just are really totally oblivious to what we can do if it were to be utilized appropriately. Recently the United States Census conducted a survey and found that, Texas is ranked as the third largest Black Buying Power state in the nation averaging nearly 40 billion dollars a year. Furthermore, resources concluded that the African-American community spending is equivalent to being the 11th largest economy in the world. Therefore, not only is it our responsibility to wisely utilize the resources that we have within the Black community; but we should also seek to educate our children and community about the strength of the Black buying power. Raoul Vaneigem once stated that, “Purchasing power is a license to purchase power.” And I couldn’t agree more, I am not saying that it is necessarily right but it is absolutely true.