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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

The Sad State of Black America in 2023

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

© Copyrighted and Published on January 15, 2023

IMAGE: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s booking photo in the Birmingham, Alabama city jail in 1963.

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in ceremonies today and tomorrow, I take this occasion to report on the sad status of black America in 2023.

Dr. King was jailed 29 times and assassinated in 1968 because of his non-violent, non-stop quest to secure equal rights for people of color in America.

Fifty-five years after Dr. King's death, here is where we stand as African-Americans: To begin with, a disproportionate number of black men today are leading effeminate lifestyles.

IMAGE: PHOTO: Painter Jonathan Lyndon Chase with husband, Will Chase. Courtesy of GQ Magazine, 2019.

I described the mainstream media's glorification of effeminate black men in a 2019 article titled, the "Changing Masculinity of Black Men.”

When Black men summon up the courage to fight for something, it is usually a fight against each other or our women. Today, we are killing each other at an alarming rate.

In "A Tale of Two Revolutions in the Atlantic world," I described this country's glorification of the American revolution. The only successful slave-led revolution in the Western Hemisphere -- by indigenous Haitian people from 1791 to 1804 -- was suppressed in literary history so that it would not inspire a similar revolt by black slaves in America in the 1800s.

African-Americans have never celebrated the only population of indigenous black slaves who liberated themselves and their nation. Today, most African-Americans do not know what America owes Haiti, and why. We simply join white Americans in looking down upon Haitians with a misplaced scorn born out of willful ignorance.

We Continue to Suffer from Systemic Racism In an article titled, "Why America Can't Rid Itself of Its Racial Problem," I described how many of today's right-wing conservative judges in state and federal judicial systems have eagerly assumed the role of opposing the socio-economic progress for black Americans that was once played by the Ku Klux Klan.

The open hostility against blacks that was once practiced by the men and women in white robes has been replaced by a more subtle, polished, and fashionable form of racial hostility against African-Americans by the men and women who wear black robes and act in an official judicial capacity. This is particularly true in Alabama, which has an all-white, nineteen member, appellate court system today.

IMAGE: The Alabama Supreme Court in 2023.

In an article titled, "Greenwood: The Black Wall Street," I 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 ever prosecuted for the deaths and destruction of commercial and residential properties in Greenwood.

Image: The Barons of Black Wall Street, circa 1920.

In an article titled, "The Greatest Wealth Transfer Program in U.S. History for Whites," I described a 124-year-long land giveaway program for white settlers and European immigrants that began in 1862. This program, which was authorized in the Homestead Act of 1862, resulted in the award of 270 million acres of free land by the U.S. government to nearly three million white recipients.

The land in the giveaway program was part of the 1.5 billion acres that was taken by force from Native American tribes west of the Mississippi River.

The Homestead Act program formally ended in 1986.

Today, white Americans own more than 98 percent of U.S. land amounting to 856 million acres with a total worth of over $1 trillion. Twenty percent of the richest whites in America are lineal descendants of the beneficiaries of the Homestead Act's land giveaway program.

Today, white household wealth is 20 times greater than black household wealth, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.

The psychological damage from hundreds of years of subjugation, rigidly enforced repression, violent oppression, and the deprivation of civil rights to which slaves of African descent and their descendants were subjected has left most black Americans psychologically castrated and neutered to this day.

Unfortunately, nearly all black elected officials and institutional leaders suffer the present-day effects from this subjugation in the form of inferiority complexes when dealing with their white counterparts. Many of them are too afraid and compromised to effectively represent the political interests of their black constituents.

Black America is Impotent in Domestic and Geopolitical Affairs

For the first time ever, we have entered an era where black America is impotent in domestic and geopolitical affairs.

We have plenty of black celebrities who get mobbed by autograph seekers when they stroll through a mall or social event. However, these individuals have no power and influence with world leaders, at home and abroad.

Our celebrities and professional athletes, who are great people and very accomplished in their craft, do not own or run any Fortune 500/New York Stock Exchange companies. They are not major defense contractors. They do not own Wall Street banks or accredited financial institutions. They do not own Silicon Valley-based international technology companies. They do not own international multimedia empires like Rupert Murdock and John Malone.

They do not manufacture airplanes, trains, trucks, buses, cars, cargo ships, or luxury yachts. They do not own or run any major international oil and gas companies. They do not own or run global telecommunications companies.

They do not own major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, H&M, the Gap, and DSW. They do not own Cisco, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, PayPal, Cash App, and other Internet-based infrastructure and social media companies.

They do not own or run any major airlines, or space exploration companies. They do not own or run international solar, wind, and hydrogen powered clean energy companies.

They do not set monetary policies or the price of gold each day. They do not own skyscrapers in any of the world's major cities. They do not serve on the board of directors for the SWIFT organization that oversees international transfers of money between banks.

Except for one black (Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team), they do not own major league football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, NASCAR racing, or yachting teams. They do not own any venue where major professional sports are played.

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 today's 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.

Today's Leadership Void

Today, there is no Frederick Douglass, who was outspoken, universally recognized, and respected by European, Caribbean, African, and American leaders in his day as a powerful voice for people of color in the United States.

There is no Adam Clayton Powell in the U.S. Congress. Rep. Powell did not bite his tongue when forcefully advocating for the civil rights of black Americans in an all-white Congress. Yet, Powell passed more legislation than any member of Congress today, whether black or white, and was respected by world leaders.

There is no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is the only non-U.S. president and black American with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington and a national holiday named after him. Dr. King, who was disliked by 75% of white Americans at the time of his 1968 assassination, was the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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. Our cities are dying. We are creating a permanent underclass of young people who are incapable of competing for jobs and contracts.

We have an entire population of 41.1 million African-Americans striving to become one of the 5,000 or so professional athletes, reality TV stars, rappers, and singing and dancing entertainers in America who makes $250,000 or more per year. 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 economic power.

We increasingly elevate form over substance. We tend to value clothing, red-bottom shoes, and fancy cars over real estate holdings and business ownership. In white America, this is called "flash wealth" and it has little to no economic value on bank financial statements.

Unlike every immigrant group in America, we resist 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 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.

As we will witness today and tomorrow, civil rights activism has been reduced from direct action in the streets 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.

Many of 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 Montgomery, Alabama mayor Steven Reed and longtime Equal Justice Initiative CEO Bryan Stevenson has dwindled down to near-extinction level. Uncle Tomism is on the rise and is expected to climb dramatically throughout the 21st century.

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 a new-wave of "Negroes" who relish the Uncle Tom role portrayed by actor Samuel Jackson in the movie "Django."

As a people, African-Americans are lost in the proverbial "Promised Land." We have come to accept a permanent state of second-class citizenship.

Today, most of us have surrendered our manhood and womanhood, without a fight, to the forces that have always opposed our growth. We simply go along with these forces to get along.

As for me, I will continue to fight for our dignity, respect, and rightful place in American society for as long as I can. I owe this to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. Rosa Parks, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and the millions of unsung heroes who fought and bled for my freedom as a black man. I will never forget them and what they did for us.

This is my report on the sad state of black America in 2023.


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Kamar Jones
Kamar Jones
Jan 24, 2023

Well-written article! This topic is one that I've studied since I was a young adult. Now middle-aged, it still is a problem, but many of the problems are self-inflicted.

  1. The Wealth Gap: The wealth gap continues to widen, even after many civil rights legislative laws were passed in the 1960s. The issue is a need for more financial literacy and more focus on what we see on television and the internet. We value wealth as being influential on the internet, showing out on reality shows, or seeing athletes and entertainers making it rain at clubs. But, unfortunately, this takes our focus away from actual wealth-building activities.

  2. Leadership: We have forgotten leaders like Adam Powel, M. L. King, and Charles Houston…


Ted P. Gemberling
Ted P. Gemberling
Jan 16, 2023

I think it is unfortunate that you start out by talking about "effeminate lifestyles." Human beings change. African Americans are no different from anyone else. In recent decades humans have discovered that macho personalities create lots of problems. You are right that there has been a great deal of oppression of black people. But don't lose sight of the fact that Martin Luther King's campaign was "non-macho" in being non-violent. My guess is that King would not be highly condemnatory of "effeminate lifestyles" if he were alive today.

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