Saturday, February 09, 2019

Black in the US

What is currently transpiring regarding the political climate in the state of Virginia regarding the racial attitudes of white men in power is, in reality, a disturbing look into the very heart of America. It would be easy and much less painful to simply point a finger at these politicians and focus all the blame and derision in that direction. In reality, these men are simply a product of their upbringing and the cumulative pressure to conform to the endemic racism that underscores so much of American life.

The first documented evidence of slavery in the US is 1619. It is now 400 years later, and we remain as a people bound and chained to conceptions and beliefs some more subtle than others that confirm and reinforce the extent and diverse set of advantages that whites have come to take for granted.

In many parts of this country, it had been a common practice that Blacks were intentionally prevented from purchasing housing and property based upon their race. As a result, much of the wealth tied to such property has remained secured preferentially in the hands of white families. This wealth passed down through the generations has had a profound impact upon the financial discrepancy between the races. Further evidence of the consequences of ingrained racial prejudice is the quality of education available to the children of lesser means. Local funding for public education is often tied directly to property through the collection of local property taxes. The inevitable outcome of this relationship is the differential quality of education available to the poor and especially people of color as opposed to their white counterparts.

The nation’s prisons are populated by people of color in disproportionate numbers. In addition, as a nation, the US has one of the highest per capita prison populations in the world. Moreover, prisons have become a booming private industry insuring that this legacy will be continuing well into the future.

In my mind, one of the more foreboding examples of the chronic and enfeebling state of racism is the preponderance of police shootings of black males especially in the nation’s urban areas. Again, it might be convenient to rest the blame solely upon the police. However, this reality underscores the often- subtle perception that Blacks lives are more expendable.

The abject failure of this country and its people to come to terms with the nature and substance of its racial attitudes once and for all and to rectify the deep inequities that exist among our people is a disturbing reality of contemporary life. The most distressing trend is the apparent reemergence of the notion of white supremacy reminiscent of the pre-Civil War era in which the nation was sharply split by vastly divergent ideological principles. This is especially evident given the rise of legislation in the American South designed to suppress the participation of the non-white population in the voting process reminiscent of the dark days of Jim Crow.

The time is long overdue for this country to come to terms with its history especially in regard to the blatantly inequitable treatment of a sizable portion of its population.

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