Black America in 2019: Where do we stand?
Recently, the Netflix series When They See Us was released and has angered many American viewers, specifically Black Americans. The series takes viewers back to the Central Park Five Case in which five innocent Black boys were falsely convicted of assaulting a white woman in Central Park. When They See Us reveals the ugly truths behind how these young boys were taken advantage of which resulted in them being wrongly sentenced to prison. The case itself is from 1989 but is still just as relevant being that 1989 was not long ago. This series has sparked anger in young Black Americans, as well as in the
older generations and leads one to reconsider if America has really changed that much since 1989.
Police brutality is ultimately what sparked the Black Lives Matter Movement, following the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. It’s difficult to believe that the incident was just seven years ago, as so much has been happening since the event occurred. One could even be convinced that it is still 2012 today. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement has the power of social media and has used it to expose all the covered truths that exist today. Just within minutes, videos, images, articles, tweets and more are spread across every social media platform for all to have access to. Recently, videos of police mistreating innocent Black men, women and even children can be found surfacing social media. Police have evolved in their ways. Not only are they openly abusing Black people during arrests and shooting them dead, but they are even using their positions to publicly threaten Black lives verbally. The word “police” is just a noun. It is the people who make a commitment to be police who are the problem. Generations now and the ones to come are ultimately responsible in pushing for a change in the requirements for obtaining a badge in 2019.
In 1837, Cheyney University, the first Historically Black College and University, was founded in Pennsylvania. Since then, Black youth have chosen to attend HBCUs. Reasons to attend an HBCU ranges from being legacy children to these institutions being dream schools, but for many, the recent events in Black communities across the United States also play a large part in this decision. The present-day treatment of Black lives is not new and is all too familiar to the very societal stigmas that caused HBCUs to be necessary back in 1837. HBCU Culture is a topic all on its own as it has so many unexplainable components. Nonetheless, it is definitely “lit,” but it is ultimately life changing. The atmosphere and overall experience is so revitalizing that one must attend to understand fully. Being surrounded by educated, talented and motivated Black youth is exceedingly motivating, especially when these are the very people who will excel to become the future leaders of America. HBCU graduates make up 80% of Black judges and 50% of Black lawyers and doctors. Even though HBCUs nourish and produce Black success, these historic institutions are struggling financially and may not be along for much longer. Five HBCUs have closed since 1989 and many are struggling to maintain their accreditation. It is even more relevant now to attend HBCUs and to keep Black success flowing throughout America.
It is no secret that Black people age extremely well. It also isn’t a secret that heart disease and diabetes are two of the leading causes of death among Black Americans. Disheartening stories of Black Americans being mistreated and not taken seriously in hospitals and doctors’ offices have stopped Black people from going all together and has even led to the lack of care in their own health. Alternatives to not going to a general doctors’ office or hospital is going to one that is predominantly Black staffed or simply asking for a Black doctor out of comfort and reassurance. Black health is very serious, and a lot of deaths could be prevented with just a little bit of information and education. Even mental health needs more attention. Older and current generations of Black parents and grandparents are in disbelief that depression exists in the Black community. The conditions for a Black person in today’s America is extremely discouraging and this is not a secret. Examples include: the value of a Black life to police officers, low income, economic gaps between Black and white Americans and unequal opportunity. Overall, Black people must educate themselves and realize that these health issues are real and can be aided with the proper help from doctors.
The Black Vote
It is so common to hear Black people express that their vote “doesn’t count.” This could be true, however, believing this assumption will possibly result in the reduction of Black people educating themselves on presidential candidates and politics, which is already a present issue today. This will also result in the lack of opinion that Black people may have despite their assumptions and disbeliefs. There are so many who aren’t registered to vote, are registered and have not finished their paperwork and those who simply choose not to vote. Looking back on Black history, it is a shame to see all that Black ancestors did to be able to vote just for Black people to merely ignore the importance of voting. As the conditions for a Black life in America have both worsened and improved, presidential candidates are making sure to put these conditions in their agendas for the 2020 presidential election. This should cause an urge in Black people to want to get out and vote. One will never know what their vote could really do so why not vote anyways?
Though it is evident that Black people have a huge disadvantage when it comes to resources, it should not be a large enough reason to become discouraged or not continue to try to succeed. Knowing that Black people have a disadvantage in almost every aspect compared to a white American is intimidating, however there are still resources available to help aid someone to achieve a position equal to a white American. Older generations have experienced and realized the deficit between the aid provided to Black Americans to white Americans and have created resources of their own. Some resources include grants, scholarships, libraries, mentorships, tutoring services, free programs, internships, seminars, etc. All these resources were created with the hope of closing the achievement gap. Though there is lack of resources for Black Americans, there are still resources available for almost every situation.
Have Conditions Changed?
Yes, things have greatly improved since slavery and segregation, but the conditions of life for a Black person are still not ideal. Being Black in America comes with so many warning labels and systemic restrictions. Generational curses, including the lack of wealth, education and resources, have stunted the growth and potential of Black youth from being as successful as white youth in today’s America. These curses are not so much the fault of Black ancestors, but of systematic oppression. Sadly, it is up to the next generations of Black America to diminish these generational curses. Will Black Americans ever be completely equal to a white Americans in every category? Regardless of what this answer may be, there is always room to improve conditions and pave a way for the next generation to make even bigger improvements themselves. Had Africans never held rebellions against colonialism, Black people today would never have the Black Lives Matter Movement. Conditions will continue to improve for as long as Black people continue to improve them. The goal is to pave the way for a better life for the next generations, not to stop because we see no change in our own lives.