The Sad State of Black America
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
By: Donald V. Watkins
© Copyrighted and published on November 24, 2019
This month, I published a special series of articles that describes and explains the sad state of black America.
I started with the "Changing Masculinity of Black Men," an article that described the mainstream media's glorification of effeminate black men. This sustained media campaign, which is graphically depicted in the November 2019 print edition of GQ Magazine, defines the new masculinity for black men.
Today's black men are portrayed as effeminate acting and scared. When they do summon up the courage to fight, it is usually against each other or our women.
I continued with "A Tale of Two Revolutions in the Atlantic world," in which I described the glorification of the American revolution. During the same period, the only successful slave-led revolution in the Atlantic World -- by indigenous Haitian people and slaves in the late 1700s and early 1800s -- was suppressed in literary history so it would not inspire a similar revolt by black slaves in America in the 1800s.
Next, I discussed "Why America Can't Rid Itself of Its Racial Problem," which described how many of today's right-wing conservative judges in state and federal judicial systems have assumed the role of opposing the socio-economic progress for black Americans that was once played by the Ku Klux Klan. The hostility by the men and women in white robes has been replaced by a more subtle and fashionable form of racial hostility against African-Americans practiced by the men and women who wear black robes and act in an official capacity.
Then, I published "Greenwood: The Black Wall Street," which described the most financially successful black community ever developed in America. Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Greenwood was black America's Wall Street before it was destroyed in May 1921 by an angry white mob of 1,500 people that killed an estimated 3,000 blacks and burned down the entire business and residential community over a two-day period. Nobody was prosecuted for these deaths and the destruction of commercial and residential properties in Greenwood. Insurance covered none of the loss as it was deemed a “race riot” and excluded under the insurance policies.
I continued with "The Greatest Wealth Transfer Program in U.S. History for Whites," which described a 124-year-long land give away program for white settlers and European immigrants that began in 1862. This program resulted in the award of 270 million acres of free land by the U.S. government to nearly 3 million white recipients. The program formally ended in 1986.
A similar but much smaller land giveaway program for freed black slaves was ordered by Union Army General William T. Sherman in 1865 in Special Field Order No. 15. This Order was rescinded in the Fall of 1865 by President Andrew Johnson after Abraham Lincoln died. As a result, the U.S. government never gave freed slaves the 400,000 acres of land they were promised.
The psychological damage from hundreds of years of subjugation and violence inflicted upon these slaves -- both men and women -- has left most black Americans psychologically castrated and neutered to this day. The horrors of slavery have been written about in numerous historical publications.
Kenneth Stampp in The Peculiar Institution cites five steps masters often used to achieve an “ideal slave”: establish and maintain strict discipline, train slaves “to understand that bondage was their natural state”, “awe” them, showing them their master’s “power” and coaxing them into revering him, persuade slaves to take interest in the master’s business and exploit the helplessness of the slaves to instill in them complete dependence on master.
The following methods of maintaining discipline were widely accepted and used: a slave was forbidden to leave the estate without permission, they were unable to leave the cabin after “horn blow”, rarely-given passes were required if a slave left the estate, free blacks and whites could not work with or marry slaves and slaves were forbidden to have whiskey, to fight or to swear.
Frederick Douglass in My Bondage and My Freedom wrote about how slaves were “trained from the cradle up, to think and feel that their masters are superior, and invested with a sort of sacredness”. He references how isolation was used as a key tactic in assuring submission and that disobedient slaves would be sold off.
Punishment was regularly inflicted on the slaves. Solitary confinement was regularly used, as well as shackles and chains. It frequently reached the level of violence. This type of punishment was usually whipping but also included burning, branding, removal of toenails, being attacked by masters’ dogs and salting of wounds caused by whipping. Slave women were often raped by the master and/or overseer.
Collectively, the articles listed above describe the historical events that have led to the systemic emasculation of today's African-Americans, as a people.
The Signs of Irrelevancy and Cultural Disintegration
For the first time in our 400-year history in America, African-Americans have been totally and completely decimated as a force for positive change in America. What is worse, African-Americans have fallen into a permanent state of irrelevance when it comes to national political policy, economic empowerment, international affairs, and global commerce.
Too many blacks do not value a quality education. Public school systems in many of our urban areas are failing our students. We are creating a permanent underclass of young people who are incapable of competing for jobs and contracts.
We have an entire population of 34 million African-Americans striving to become one of the 3,000 professional athletes, reality TV stars, rappers, and singing and dancing entertainers in America. This narrow focus on "successful" career choices flows from the glorification of blacks as modern-day minstrels and court-jesters who have celebrity status but no real power.
We would rather have a photo with a sitting U.S. President at a White House event or party than the lucrative non-bid government contracts that are routinely handed out to civilian and defense contractors.
We do not manufacture or produce any volume of products that is statistically significant in the gross domestic product (GDP) calculation -- the total production and consumption of goods and services in the country. In contrast, we are one of the largest consumer spending groups in America. Because the dollar turns over only one time in the black community -- as opposed to 19 times in the former Greenwood -- we essentially enrich white vendors, merchants, banks, insurance agencies, media companies, and professional services providers on a loyal and consistent basis. The overwhelming majority of the recipients of African-American spending dollars never reinvest in the black community.
We increasingly elevate form over substance. We tend to value clothing, red-bottom shoes, and fancy cars over real estate holdings and business ownership. This is called "flash wealth" and it has little to no economic value on financial statements.
Unlike every immigrant group in America, we hate networking with each other. Our validation as a person too often comes when someone white pats us on the head and tells us how "different" we are from other African-Americans. This pat on the head sends too many of us into an exhilarating psychological state of being.
For the most part, the politicians we elect do not represent our political interests. They are political "watchdogs," but they rarely bark to protect our interests. They have no meaningful political agenda to uplift the black community. Likewise, they have no concrete plan of action for making our public schools and universities competitive forces in an ever-changing world.
The battle zone of civil rights activities has been reduced to an endless stream of "feel good" commemorative celebrations that require no confrontation or courage.
Our churches have morphed into personality-based ministries that glorify preachers rather than God. These churches tend to suck money from black communities without any commitment to rebuild them.
Our universities are living off of fading memories of the past rather than the glowing promise of the future. The traditional "guilt money" from liberal white donors is drying up. Our institutions of higher education are closing their doors in record numbers.
The number of committed black leaders with promise and courage like newly installed Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Steven Reed and longtime Equal Justice Initiative CEO Bryan Stevenson has dwindled down to near-extinction levels. Uncle Tomism is on the rise and is expected to climb dramatically throughout the 21st century.
As a people, we now seek "mascot" status rather than real manhood and womanhood. The latter causes us to be aware of our rights and responsibilities to the larger community.
Alone and Unprotected in America
For the first time ever in our history as African-Americans, we are alone, unprotected, and under an unrelenting ideological attack that is led by the very institutions of government that used to protect us from the worst instincts in white men and women. What is worse, these ideological attacks are aided and abetted by new-wave "Negroes" who relish the Uncle Tom role portrayed by actor Samuel Jackson in the movie "Django."
As a people, we are lost in the "Promised Land." We have come to accept a permanent state of second-class citizenship without a fight. We have surrendered to the forces that have always opposed our growth.
This is the sad state of black America.