Black History Month - Part III
February 15, 2011
Not Everyone's Celebrating
In this, the third in our current series for Black History Month 2011, we take a real look at where we are and where we're going. Even though some African-Americans have entered the realm of the privileged and have offices in (or tantalizingly near to) the corridors of corporate and political power, it would be a mistake to assume that good times for some have brought good tidings to all. They have not. More black men than ever languish in prisons. Black academic achievement still lags behind that of whites. And suicides among young black men have risen sharply, reflecting a deep sense of hopelessness. And fear is pervasive that the current economic downturn could wipe out previous African-Americans' tenuous gains.
One of the obstacles that continues to plague black America is poverty. Given the economic and social structure of how poverty reproduces itself, even though there are programs in place, many of these programs are unfolding cataclysms for minorities. We have seen some of those programs exposed and eliminated -- and yet there are still those who would use the fact that they once existed as a reason to deny benefits to those who have earned them and depend on them.
For many of us in 2011, a society in which race doesn't hold us back is still a distant goal. All things are still not equal by a long shot. In many areas such access to loans, health care and even the amount of face time black candidates get in the media, the racial fault lines determine that blacks are treated less favorably than non-blacks, regardless of income or social class. We are still struggling for the same basic rights as other Americans. Policies seem to follow the rhetoric.
So as we look forward, we want to make certain that we haven't forgotten the past and those whose struggles allowed many of us to survive. They took their time and persevered. They gave us reason for hope. They struggled, often without even the most basic tools that most of us take for granted. So we should remember and honor them as part of Black History Month. We must not rush on and forget about them. They survived time.
While we are certainly mindful of all the progress that has been made, not everyone's celebrating. We recognize that the growth is part of our accumulated experiences and shared histories. Those histories and these people do, however, help to define our opportunities and obligations to the next generation. We need to help restore and inspire dignity for what they accomplished.