Opinion

Has Black America truly come that far?

Wikimedia CommonsMartin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial during his famous March on Washington

How far has black America come? Honestly, not far at all.

As the conclusion to black history month nears the black community must honestly address the condition of black America.

Black America still struggles with the devastating and hideous effects of slavery discussed in the highly contested, controversial and notorious Willie Lynch Letter.

The letter was said to have been a speech given by British slave owner Willie Lynch on the banks of the James River in the Virginia colony. Lynch was invited to Virginia to teach others his methods to control slaves for at least 300 years.

In the letter, Lynch shared his idea of dividing the Africans categories of differences including pigmentation, sex, and status on plantation. These divisions destroyed the family structure and shifted the image Africans held of themselves. Lynch’s methods ensured mental trauma and limitations on slaves that would be passed down for generations.  

African-Americans were never provided mental and emotional health reparations to overcome the traumatic experiences of slavery. But so many in white America tell black America to get over it, as if breaking centuries of enslavement is as easy as forgive and forget.

Instead, the focus shifted to social equality successes, such as civil rights acts or Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas being touted as accurate measures to how far black America has come, but in reality are distractions from real issues.

The black community as a whole must break the agenda of self-hate and over-dependence on a system not intended for it. And, let’s be honest, the American government was built out of a culture of inequality. When did African-Americans provide input at the Constitutional Convention? How many blacks were delegates?

The system reserved all rights to white men who implemented policy to disadvantage minorities and protect their status. The system ensured white men maintained control, generational wealth and influence over minorities in the United States.

So if it’s known this system wasn’t meant to support or include African-Americans from the beginning, why keep standing at the door knocking for help?

Why keep placing faith and great expectations into “savior” politicians like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) or former President Barack Obama to deliver reparations and policies focused on restoring the black community?

Neither Obama nor Harris expressed platforms at any point delivering policies addressing the mental and emotional healing needed in black America. Where were their plans to help African-Americans digest, conceptualize and overcome the mental and emotional damage caused by slavery using methods of the Willie Lynch letter?

Instead, these individuals construct platforms comfortable for their white constituents, without providing real solutions to issues in black America.

It goes unsaid, yet well-understood winners and losers exist in this nation. And often, black America is the loser. Now, am I suggesting black people shun American government and politics altogether? No. However, collective community action should determine agendas and election outcomes delivering those agendas.

This is important because the original system wasn’t meant to deliver these things to black America. And in fact, though the system has changed, the foundation is still the same: preying on and discriminating against African-Americans while benefiting and protecting white America. But realistically, radical foundational reformation won’t happen in America with the current system. So, reformation must begin on a community basis.

Black America, as a whole, must de-program, invest in and rebuild communities. African- Americans must pool together financial resources, talents and passions to do what it has always done as a community: innovate and overcome. To think black America innovated historically black colleges and universities to overcome being prohibited from attending white universities;  developed a strategy that crippled the Montgomery, Alabama bus system long-term and overcame segregation of public services in the South; and pioneered creative black film and television for community entertainment when even television was segregated.

Black America must innovate strategies and plans committed to the holistic development of communities: mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and economically. Black America must innovate unique policies, which build opportunity for generations to achieve success advancement.

If black America hopes to overcome the impact of slavery, hope must be rooted in the power of the community to get there and not in a system that keeps them enslaved. Demolishing the chains of slavery on African-Americans by mental and emotional healing will allow everyone to look back and say that over 25, 50, 75 and even 100 years, black America has truly come far.

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