How did we get to the point in the U.S. where there is a huge divide over racial equity in our nation, a pluralist nation where Black and White have coexisted for 400 years?
There can be no question that from the day of Emancipation to the day the Civil Rights Act was passed 10 decades later, Black suffering continued, but it took on a different form.
Oppression has many faces.
It can also be said that while racial injustice continues, it bears further and candid examination as to why it is that black American men are incarcerated at a higher proportional rate than caucasian American men.
Poverty strikes inner-city blacks at a much higher proportional rate than caucasians simply because of the fact that there are more Blacks settled in inner cities (where there were traditionally more jobs during the 19th and 20th Century).
After the Civil Rights Act was passed, a policy that was designed to help build up Black communities by creating laws against discrimination, there was also the unlooked-for harvest of a growing Welfare State that created dependence within inner-city black communities.
More government programs were developed to aid unwed mothers where we saw a higher proportionality of younger black women having children without fathers; this in turn, disenfranchised young black men from further financial or parental involvement.
Even today, welfare recipients are “penalized” if mother and father reside in the same dwelling. And that was the key to further oppression. Instead of government programs encouraging black American families to stay together, they instead, instituted programs that drove them apart, including access to abortion clinics, increased sex education in school (which promoted promiscuity by normalizing teenage sexual behavior), and of course, more benefits were handed to unwed mothers – just enough to keep them from starving.
Meantime, strict drug laws were enacted in the 1980’s while NOT stemming the flow of drugs into inner cities, thus creating increased profits to men who had an easy way to make quick cash. Thus, the inner city gangland was created.
In the last twenty years we have seen Mexican cartels move into these areas that were once controlled by young black men.
Today’s drug wars in Chicago are a perfect example of what happens to African-American families when they have three generations of fatherless children. To ignore this reality is to refuse to address the underlying problem that has led us to where we are today.
Children from these impoverished homes, following the same cyclical path, also produce more offspring, and these offspring are the ones we see today grown up and rioting; third generation children raised in a cycle of government produced poverty, by a system that produced dependence instead of independence.
All of this has led us to the present day where again there is less opportunity with higher unemployment, along with more obstacles, more incarceration and hence, more examples of police violence now being displayed (which now has exploded thanks to smartphones and social media).
So the violence against black men, for which we are holding a national protest, stems not from the systemic racism, but instead, from an overzealous democratic government that took on the role of producing less opportunity and more dependency.
Too many Black men from 1965 to 1995 in America got lost in a system that seemingly no longer needed them and to whom the American dream was but an illusion, a sad and harsh joke.
Every study shows that a two-parent home is better for child rearing. All studies also show that parenting is good for the parents because it teaches young people (men and women) to grow up and take responsibility. There was never a time in any society when this wasn’t true, and yet for the last 50 years in this country, the paternalistic government of the United States, at the behest of mostly the Democratic Party, has quietly told the Black community, “don’t worry about the father of that child, we’ll take care of them for you.”
I have met people like George Floyd. I have welcomed people into my home who have just had horrible lives, mostly because of the impoverished conditions for which they were brought up and raised. It is difficult to break that cycle if you are a young black man who, at 19, has had a skirmish or two against the law, stuff that sticks with you and limits opportunity for achieving “the American Dream”
Today’ oppression is economic, stemming from a paternal government, who, in an attempt to make good on past sins, created a welfare-system that made single African-American mothers an unsuspecting ward of the State, while eschewing the role of the African American father.
What people really should be enraged about is the symbol of what that video of George Floyd truly represents, the video of Officer Derrick Chauvin with his knee on the neck of the black man.
George was no longer needed by society. The knee is, to me, the symbol of oppression of democratic policies that have destroyed the Black family in America.
And in a twist of irony, when the Floyd murder case is settled, once again the U.S. government will hand the children of Mr. Floyd a check and say, let us help make the pain go away for taking yet another Black American father.
Jim Watkins is the host of the Speaking Out Podcast. Watkins grew up in South Los Angeles during both Watts riots in the 1960’s and is a former resident of Los Angeles who now is a media consultant.