One Progressive’s View: A Message from and to Black America Part I
I have been with Hub Pages for over 8 months and I find the process of writing therapeutic, a way to get a lot of things off of my chest that I don/t like to carry around. I was most disturbed when I saw this online article entitled “Obama Jobs Plan Heartens Frustrated Blacks”. I read the article with the usual interest, but was taken aback when I saw all the comments. They were of a nature that was well beyond the discussion of the merits of his program and the political differences that would be expected in such a forum.
The comments seem to come from everywhere with the overwhelming tone being clearly negative. It was what they were commenting about that was so disturbing. So, many insisted that the President was pandering to blacks with his program. I listened to the President’s address that evening and I did not hear any specific reference to race based solutions to the national unemployment crisis. What kinds of things swim in those minds of theirs? Then there were other Anglos that stated that if blacks were to benefit, somehow it would be at their expense, “a zero sum’ game. Never mind the fact that blacks are experiencing unemployment at rates that whites would consider at depression levels. There was no consideration, no compassion, just us verses them.
Then comes all the usual stereotypes, racial slurs, indicating that blacks are lazy and are just looking for another way to ‘game the system’ The sheer quantity of vitriol from people who would never say these things to another, face to face, was overwhelming. When I looked at all the photos of the lynchings that occurred in United States and the literal crowds standing around with the vendors selling refreshments, I have to wonder have we really changed or is all of this rather than being part of the past just merely redirected, not ameliorated. All the resentment and rage so many Anglos seem to harbor about this President has got to be having psychological effects. Do so many of you really carry all this angst around with you all of the time?
Just beneath the thin veneer of civility are the fundamental attitudes and beliefs of bigotry and racism made evident without even the desire to conceal it and be polite. Well, so much for the idea of a post racial society. The disrespect of this President and the office he holds has got to be more than coincidence. The trouble the President has had with congress is just a mere extension of the racial resentment and fear that is clearly among the masses. Perhaps I was naïve to expect more from those at such a high stature within our society.
First of all, is it unnatural for blacks to express hope in the President’s effort to assist in providing jobs in this troubled economy, when they are so adversely affected, unexpected? I no more expect this president to look exclusively to the interests of the black community any more than I expected Anglo presidents to look exclusively toward the interests of white communities. But, when you visit history, you know that many of them have. We only have a black president because of the overwhelming support for Mr. Obama by non-white voters. Plus, when you consider how the Republicans and their economic philosophy virtually destroyed the economy over the first decade of this century culminating with the September 2008 meltdown, it was hard for any Democratic contender to lose, even if he is black and considered ‘not one of us’ by many Anglos
Whites have always asked me, expecting an impartial answer, why haven’t your people pulled themselves up by their bootstraps? Until very recently the net worth of the average black family was 10 cents to every dollar of the white family. I had heard recently that because of the housing crisis, that ratio is now closer to 5 cents to the dollar. When the Anglo can go to Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue for seed money to start a business, most of us and our extended families have insufficient resources to do the same. This advantage whites have enjoyed over many generations relative to blacks and Hispanics. I never bought into the conservatives’ line about it being the “virtue of hard work”. My parents worked hard and I saw plenty of Anglo ‘dingbats’ that were the very antithesis of hard work or otherwise.
This gap in wealth is the reason that during hard economic times, we are the ones lacking the economic buffer to ride out the situation. It is always why I wondered why white people always seem to have so much money. It was why, while at the university, a white classmate told me that she was going to take a sabbatical for a year or two to find herself and then return ready to work. I know what my father would have told me if I made such a suggestion, I would have been more than likely to find a boot in my rear end within a nanosecond after the suggestion left my lips.. This lack of net worth forces us to the edge, with limited resources, thereby having only one chance to make good of an opportunity which was not likely to come again. Whites are 10 times more likely to have a substantial inheritance than blacks.
So, there is your seed money to advance your interests and that of your progeny. We all know that there is a fundamental difference between being rich and being wealthy. Prior to 1950 everybody is aware that the dearth of opportunities for people of color in the wider society was evident through overt and institutionalized racism. So, it is difficult to build a foundation when merely acquiring the resources to survive was a challenge Wealth is accumulated over time, I know, as my sister has married into a wealthy family (old money), where everybody takes their time as to achieving the things that they desire to accomplish. Any number of indiscretions of their members can be absorbed, with their financial resources providing each a ‘second chance’.
Wealth means having the resources to invest in the long term in the financial markets. Most minorities had their wealth in their homes and when the housing market failed, that wealth went with it.
Many of you are going to say, ‘what about Oprah or I was the son of an Appalachian coal miner’s daughter’, or other such thing. We are talking about the average and if you wish to dispute the veracity of data provided by the US census, go ahead, but I suggest that you read another article, elsewhere.
Then, of course, it is this argument about welfare and those playing the system. It seems to be an overriding theme of our adversaries. They say that the media is liberal, but I question that, how are so many lured to these eternal stereotypes? Those in the disaffected groups generally have to work harder to sustain themselves and their families without the help of Uncle Joe, who most probably has even less. Yes, there are many blacks using the social services safety nets. But as I have stated earlier, the people as a group are generally poorer. Is it any surprise that they are going to need to use the resources in greater and disproportionate numbers? The racial slurs, of course, speak for themselves
In spite of all this, history and the racial climate is only part of the problem. We bear a certain amount of blame for our current plight which I will address in Part II