Monday, February 20, 2012

Racial Inequality in the United States

This article originally appeared in the Howard University Newspaper, The Hilltop.

The bees work.

Their work is taken from them.

We are like bees-

But it won't last


-Langston Hughes, "Black Worker"

The United for a Fair Economy's annual State of the Dream report demonstrates the deep and enduring racial inequalities in the United States and the need for a revitalized Black Movement.

Of late, the Occupy Movement, a de facto white Left movement, has put a spotlight on class inequality in the U.S. The other positive side of #occupy is its challenge to electoral politics as the primary mode of political expression. Although #occupy issues overlap with Black issues, as of yet, racial inequality has not become a central feature in the Occupy Movement.

Racial inequality is a direct of result of an ongoing Whites only affirmative action program. In 1862, the Homestead Act transferred the title of government land almost exclusively to whites. Almost one hundred years later in the wake of World War II, due to white supremacist practices, a large number of Black veterans were unable to take advantage of educational opportunities, home loans, and job training skills offered by the G.I. Bill. And, more recently, mortgage companies targeted Blacks and Latinos for adjustable rate mortgages that precipitated the economic crash of 2008.

These and numerous other policies have had detrimental life consequences for Africans in America. Last year the Pew Research Center released a study showing the median net worth of white households compared to Black households had risen from 12 times more in 1984 to 19 times more in 2009. At the same time, Blacks receive 61 cents for every dollar a white person earns.

Not surprisingly, for over forty years Blacks have experienced triple the poverty rate of whites. This is just a sample. In most areas, including education, housing, employment, and of course, mass incarceration, Blacks have more of the bad things and less of the good things.

What is more, these are not just words or statistics on a page or screen, these numbers represent the real life chances for human beings.

The historic and continuing racial oppression of Black people in the U.S. has helped to produce a common experience and history. In effect, it has molded them into a nation. What is necessary then to resolve the national oppression of Blacks in the U.S. is a Black Nationalist movement that has a critique of capitalism.

The oppression of Blacks is fundamentally rooted in economics but, due to the history of this country there is a unique type of anti-black racism in the U.S., and even the world. Furthermore, the movement should reject narrow nationalism and instead be open to coalitions with other oppressed nationalities and class conscious white workers.

The primary challenge is a generation of Black people who have been inundated with post-racial propaganda from the right wing that states that race is virtually irrelevant and white Left opportunism that asserts race should be completely subservient to class.

Therefore, a mass based political education is necessary to assist the millennial generation in attaining the understanding that their oppression is at the foundations of the current world system and a Black Nationalist movement isn't a preference, but a historical necessity.

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