Updated: Jun 11, 2020
The fractured and usually non-existent integrity in the lineage of African Americans makes it impossible for the African American to be judged by the same standard as White America, because for hundreds of years, the African American has had a legacy of dysfunction passed down as its heritage, crippling one generation after another, resulting in a Race that is largely damaged and dysfunctional today. For more than 400 hundred years, the United States government created and supported an environment that rendered African Americans victimized and debilitated, leaving their members socially, economically, and psychologically bankrupt. This occurred in the greatest country on earth during the world’s greatest period of prosperity from industrial, technological, and economic advancement. During this time, great episodes of American history have played out producing powerful lucrative industries such as agriculture, housing, apparel, transportation (rail, auto, and air), steel, construction, publishing, telecommunications, health care, financial services, computing technology, and more. While African Americans have lived in the United States this entire time, they have had only a miniscule participation, if any, in the formation, development, and ownership of the companies, organizations, and institutions of which these industries are comprised. As a result of African American’s inability to participate in the development of these corporate organizations from individual embryonic entities into international conglomerates, the African American community is left largely impotent, and substantially lacking a robust widespread socioeconomic means of self-determination, wealth creation, pride and human capital development. Today, the following table reveals the results of this economic disparity for African Americans. The top 100 hundred companies owned and operated by African Americans combined, are smaller than Coca-Cola, which is only one company on the Fortune 500 list.
You can reason only one of two causes for this 400-year-old reality. Either, African Americans are inherently inferior and have lacked the ability to constructively innovate and engineer ways to produce and deliver products and services into the marketplace thereby creating progressive communities and wealth, or, the marketplace has historically been off-limits to African Americans and has severely constrained their ability to participate in any meaningful way by simply denying them access to education, good jobs, capital, services, partners, and customers. Based on overwhelming evidence presented by history in support of discriminatory constraints against African Americans, and no concrete evidence to the contrary, this article concludes that African Americans have been systematically shut out of the opportunities created by the wonderful economic engine of the United States of America, while the United States government neglectfully contributed to the dysfunction and despair apparent in the Black community to this day. This is not to say that the United States government has done nothing to promote the advancement of African Americans, but that its corrective actions have been anemic when compared to the need to repair damage done to a population of citizens actually created in the United States of America.
Further, the U.S. government’s actions tended to be “quick-fixes” designed to accommodate the in vogue self-interest of the country’s White majority, rather than the proactive healing of the badly damaged soul and condition of the nation and a group of its people. Hence the Emancipation Proclamation, the Freedmen’s Bureau, civil rights legislation, attempts at bussing, affirmative action, racial quotas, and other remedies were all conceived during times of social and political unrest, but as the unrest subsided, so did the energy behind the change. In most cases as the unrest settled, so did any significant interest in the equalization of African Americans, once again leaving them socially and economically ill-equipped to make meaningful inroads into the mainstream of this great capitalistic system.
To honestly consider the cause and effect of the African American condition and the magnitude of the disparity and prejudice that existed over time, you have to be willing to recognize that your perceptions and belief system regarding African Americans has been tampered with. African Americans have never possessed controlling interest in any of the major media institutions, industries, and organizations of the United States. While recent positive progress is being made, these communications entities have historically created, managed, monitored, and presented African American imagery in very self-serving ways, which have perpetuated negative stereotypical views of African Americans, particularly Black males. This has been evidenced in the news and entertainment media for generations, where the predominant image presented of African Americans was one of crime, poverty, despair, sex, guns, violence, and other negative social ills. This long-lasting
perpetuation of negative imagery regarding African Americans may have been the single most detrimental factor in the plight of African Americans in recent times. The pervasive bombardment of these images over the communications media within the United States for decades of time and generations of people, created a belief system that is not based on factual information and statistics, but rather the persuasive selling of ideas and perceptions influenced by the interest of the controlling parties.
For years since the advent of motion pictures and television, you could rarely find a Black person presented in a dignified and respectful manner to the millions of people in the American population. While at the same time, the standards for White images were predominantly productive, constructive, and good. The media shapes and reflects the views and opinions of the nation. As such, many people, Black, White, and others, are influenced by the repetitive nature of stereotypical imagery broadcasted and published. Since all of American government and industry has been historically controlled by White America, and White America’s perception of African Americans has been historically adversely impacted by the media, it’s easy to conclude that meaningful opportunities for African Americans in government and industry have been limited guided by the conscious or subconscious thoughts of Whites. People are not likely to place individuals whom they believe (consciously or sub-consciously) are inherently dysfunctional, incompetent, or criminal, into positions of responsibility or authority. People are also not likely to live around individuals whom they perceive are inherently dangerous or criminal. Black people are themselves likely to feel hopeless and marginalized when they perceive themselves as outcasts of society and not fitting of mainstream social and economic graces. While these perceptions were largely manufactured, these are real and current perceptions of African Americans by Whites, African Americans, and a growing number of other nationalities exposed to the current African American condition. As a result, the perceptions feed reality, making Black marginalization a self-full-filling prophecy, particularly as many Blacks themselves internalize and believe the dysfunctional stereotypical perceptions, acting on their belief system, and consequently making them reality.
Since the 1970s, the United States has been growing increasingly diversified and more open to racial and ethnic diversity. This phenomenon has been termed “The browning of America” as Hispanics, Indians, Middle Easterners, Asians, and others have been immigrating to the United States in ever-growing numbers. While America’s growing acceptance of its minority population has been a well-deserved outcome won largely through the pain and suffering of African Americans, the African American is still largely unaccepted by mainstream America due to the pre-conditioned mind-sets described earlier.
While some sentiments toward African Americans have merit resulting from the fact that many African Americans are dysfunctional today, the larger issue is the generalized preconceived notions that many have about Blacks regardless of the individual merit and character that educated, or otherwise qualified Blacks bring to the table. There is a significant number of African Americans who, through the grace of God or just sheer luck, emerged from our withered past as educated, dynamic, well-rounded, articulate, and talented individuals. Many of these individual’s potential, however, will never be realized since their paths are unlikely to coincide with powerful and influential White people who not only takes an interest in the talented Black person, but brings him/her along as well. And as most people know, more times than not, opportunity do not only result from what you know, but more importantly, who you know. And since Whites control the power, influence, and money in the United States of America, they are the primary gate keepers of who excels in the corporations and institutions of America.
The worst part of America’s newly found acceptance of minority participation in America’s mainstream, is the fact that the unprepared African American is being left out and replaced by workers from other nations in productive and meaningful occupations. Due to the oppressive history described earlier, and the self-defeating behavior that ultimately resulted from hopelessness and despair, millions of Blacks are now simply cast aside as not useful to society. As the need expands for highly skilled knowledge workers and those with skills in various technology areas, the United States is importing hundreds of thousands of workers from Asia (India, China), Africa, Eastern Europe, and other parts of the world to fill well-paying jobs here in America.
Now that the country has a huge demand for “knowledge workers,”, the African American, who has been here from the beginning, but neglected, disrespected, rejected, and largely uneducated, is substantially incapable of fulfilling the workplace demands of the country. Had the United States been more accepting, protective, interested, and vested in its African American citizens over the past few hundred years, one can only imagine how competitive the United States. would be today. If you consider the progress of Blacks who have broken through the racial barriers in America and the tremendous contributions that they have made, just think of how greater a nation we may have become if the United States actually cultivated its Black population instead of trampled it over the years. It’s not too late. But we have to begin acknowledging the root cause of the issues, accept responsibility for their origins, and craft a reasonable solution as a, once and for all, reconciliation of past treatment, designed to earnestly attempt to heal a broken people.