When will Black America declare enough is enough?
15th July 2013 · 0 Comments
By Starla Muhammad
(Special to the NNPA from The Final Call) — Black folks have worked, marched and fought over four centuries for a true equality that in 2013 still eludes us–and not for a lack of sincere efforts by activists in civil rights, business and education that continue trying to fully assimilate and integrate Blacks into American society.
Yet, despite continued appeals to politicians on every level of government to enforce fair policies and laws, pleas to multi-million dollar corporations for jobs or holding out of a renewed hope those in power will have a change of heart and level the playing field, injustices plaguing Blacks in America continue.
The attainment of riches and certain material comforts and success by a few upwardly mobile Blacks fails to negate the overall condition of the masses of the 42 million that call the U.S. home. The question is not how much more Blacks will continue to take, but how much longer will Blacks continue to accept second class citizenship?
Racial inequities in education, income and wealth persist. The criminalization of Black males in a biased legal system, and the unfair portrayals of Black women in media distorts images and have taken their toll. Recent events show the onslaught is increasing on multiple fronts.
“In my mind there is a war against Black people. I know that, that seems extreme. But when I look at any number of things, they’re not blatant, they’re subtle,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux when asked to comment on what she sees brewing in the country.
Dr. Malveaux, noted economist, author and president emerita of Bennett College for Women cited the pending increase in student loan rates as one example.
On July 1, federally-subsidized student loans doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Rates on two other student loan types, unsubsidized and PLUS loans are scheduled to remain the same at 6.8 and 7.9 percent respectively. Higher interest rates usually mean increased debt.
“What does that have to do with Black people? Black folks are more likely to use those student loans than other people are. So this hits us,” Dr. Malveaux told The Final Call.
Dr. Malveaux also weighed in on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the portrayal of key witness Rachel Jeantel, a friend of the teen victim. She was on the telephone with him minutes before the 17-year-old was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon, despite being the victim, continues to be portrayed as a “thug.” Ms. Jeantel, though multi-lingual has been ridiculed from everything from her looks to how she speaks.
“Let’s look at this Trayvon case. Trayvon Martin is one child. How many other children have been stalked and then shot because some over happy person decided this was their vigilante day? The young lady on the stand, the whole thing breaks my heart. No she’s not sophisticated, nor should she be. She’s 19-years-old! People are acting as if she should be a polished witness, which she is, as a baby girl,” added Dr. Malveaux.
“The issue is that it’s OK to beat her up in the electronic media. It’s okay for people to talk about her like a dog. And when they talk about her my sister, they talk about you and they talk about me. They are talking about a young, Black woman who is telling her story and speaking her truth about her friend. She was the last person he spoke to before he was assassinated, before he was massacred. People are talking about her weight, her diction and all of that and when they do that, it reminds me of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg added fuel to the fire that often destroys any semblance of Blacks being viewed as human beings. The city’s Stop and Frisk policing policies have come under fire by critics for targeting of Blacks and Latinos.
But the billionaire politician, a fervent supporter of Stop and Frisk, recently called the policy unfair to whites because they were being stopped too often, and “minorities” were being stopped too few times.
Also in New York, Minerva Zanca, principal of Pan American International High School is accused of firing three Black teachers, allegedly referring to two as “gorillas,” “big-lipped” and “nappy haired.”
Blacks and whites also continue to view racism through different lenses. According to a Pew Research Center survey from May, 88 percent of Blacks surveyed said there is “a lot” or “some” discrimination against Blacks, compared to 57 percent of whites surveyed.
“America’s struggles with race and racism are never completely out of the news. But it is hard to remember when a series of stories have given this issue such resonance, whether in the rulings of the Supreme Court on affirmative action and voting rights, a tense trial in a Florida courtroom and even the racially insensitive comments of a celebrity chef,” wrote Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
This year as the country marks 150 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50 year anniversary of the great March on Washington, the reality of where Black America stands is a harsh one. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s report, “The Unfinished March” the hard economic goals of the 1963 March “necessary to transforming the life opportunities of African Americans, were not fully achieved.
Dr. Algernon Austin, who authored the report, notes the following still defines Black reality since the march:
Still in ghettos of poverty. The decent housing that marchers called for is still lacking.
Still in segregated and unequal schools. Marchers demanded adequate and integrated education, but that has not been achieved.
Still twice as likely to be unemployed. Jobs for all have not been created.
Still struggling for a living wage. A minimum wage sufficient to lift working families out of poverty is not in place.
Civil rights activists, analysts and advocates are calling the June 25 Supreme Court decision eliminating a key component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, an example of yet another slap in the face to Black people.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League told The Final Call it was a “tough week” when Section 4 of the act was found to be “unconstitutional.”
The NAACP, National Urban League and others vow to press Congress to write new legislation to protect voting rights of the country’s most vulnerable.
A mass mobilization is planned for August 24 in Washington, D.C. which Mr. Morial described as a commemorative and continuation march. When asked why Blacks are still fighting for basic rights five decades after the original march, Mr. Morial said it is clear.
“It says to us that this is not a post-racial nation. It says to us that there are forces on the political right in this country that are determined to turn the hands of time back. It says to us that we have to remain vigilant in protecting our gains.”
When asked if it was time to employ new strategies and tactics to achieve what has yet to be fully achieved and realized by Blacks in the country, Mr. Morial stopped short of agreeing.
“I will tell you this, I think we now have a challenge in front of us and I think that there’s going to be a lot of discussions about what steps we should take, what response we should have. I think it’s premature for me to suggest or throw things out except to say we know that we’ve got to have a response and we know we need will built by the people.”
Glenn Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report told The Final Call marches and gatherings differ from actual mobilization.
“We have not been holding many marches. We’ve had lots of gatherings of the usual suspects but that’s not mass mobilization. We’ve had marches but those marches haven’t demanded anything, certainly not of this Black, Democratic president. We haven’t seen one march, including one that was two Monday’s ago that actually sends demands to this president,” said Mr. Ford referring to the “War on Drugs” protest organized by the Institute of the Black Century and other community groups.
Without mass mobilization coupled with making demands then it won’t create an environment where people will even listen and be “scared,” he explained. “They used to be scared of us. They’re not afraid of us at all anymore.”
Direct action as exemplified by Dr. King is a strategy designed to create a crisis and situation in which those in power are forced to respond, adds Mr. Ford, citing strikes that effect commerce as an example of effective action.
“Direct action is a statement that you have put our community, our people in crisis and now we’re going to bring it to a head so that you have to deal with the problem. So direct action is not just walking down a street like on St. Patrick’s Day and gathering in a park. Those are demonstrations and they’re all well and good but they’re not direct action.”
“Well obviously our tactics need to change, but the other issue is that we all need to be on the same page. If you talk to 10 Black people, most of them would not tell you that there was a war on Black people. You have Black people who think it’s alright, it’s all good, it’s OK in their neighborhood and it’s not,” said Dr. Malveaux.
The Black community is not focused, but fractured and that is part of the problem she added. It will take a multi-layered coalition of Black leadership to come together to begin solving the problems said Dr. Malveaux, who mentioned it should include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Min. Louis Farrakhan, Marc Morial, Ben Jealous and others.
“A Trayvon Martin massacre, an affirmative action attack, a Voting Rights evisceration, we all have to feel strongly about that and the unfortunate fact is that some of us do not,” argued Dr. Malveaux.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad demonstrated and pointed out to his followers during the height of the civil rights movement, how integration was a hypocritical trick. Current national events continue verifying the reality of what Mr. Muhammad taught, that separation from the slave master and his children is the best and only solution for the Black Man and Woman of America.
Mr. Muhammad in his book “Message to the Black Man” asked whether the “so-called Negro” would enjoy the equal rights white citizens enjoy or continue to just wait patiently for civil rights to come? He answered that question bluntly, stating even then there was no indication the white man has or ever will desire to treat Black people equally.
“It’s not his nature to treat you or even his kind right; it cannot be done,” wrote Mr. Muhammad.
His National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in Part 23 of his online lecture series, “The Time and What Must Be Done,” noted June 15 that after serving America “faithfully” as a slave then as a “free” slave, having fought in all wars for its freedom and independence, “we are still singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’ “
“You have denied us everything that it takes to make a people free, justified and equal. We pay taxes like every other citizen, but our taxes support a school system that does not feed us, does not educate us and does not qualify us! We support a political system that has been against us from the very beginning. We fight for a government that has been an open enemy to the liberation struggle of our people! It is not that we have been your enemy but a government has been ours,” said Min. Farrakhan. Keeping in direct line with his teacher, Mr. Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan has repeatedly offered viable and practical solutions to the issues plaguing Black America. The solution to the problems of the Black community is divine and does not include begging for rights that are God-given Min. Farrakhan points out.
Understanding politics without economics is symbol without substance, the Minister reintroduced Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint, calling on Black families and groups to pool their money to purchase property, farmland and open businesses like so many other ethnic groups have done, carving out their own communities within cities and towns.
In addressing the fratricidal gang violence that has gripped Black communities nationwide, the 80 year old leader was at the forefront of leading the men of the Nation of Islam out into the streets to quell disputes and offer divine guidance, as he encouraged churches and other groups to do the same.
He has spoken to thousands of college students at HBCU’s giving them keen insight into how they can become the future leaders of helping to set their people free and break the grip of White superiority and Black inferiority that has shackled the minds of so many, who are afraid to let go of their open enemy.
“So brothers and sisters, you can stop ‘grumbling,’” said the Minister. “You might as well make up your mind! You can’t go back—Pharaoh won’t accept you! You’ve got to go forward, now, to build a nation of your own!”
This article originally published in the July 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.