Civic Duties and Responsibilities
America has a democratic form of government that is intended to permit representatives of that government to be freely elected by all citizens. A certain segment of populace elects representatives to government. Thereafter, representatives express will of their constituents to formulate policies rules and regulations to govern the populace. This sounds very logical and plausible, but the representation process is often times significantly influenced by the ‘haves’ who have economic influence over ‘have not’s’ which results in the economic minority views and perspectives being trumped.
Economic minority could be more influential in the political process if they would work to become engrossed in the political arena. This could be a task as small as licking stamps or answering phones in a politician’s office, passing out flyers in a specific neighborhood or writing letters pro or con on a particular issue impacting their district. Signing petitions, writing letters, calling the office of political leaders to express approval or discontent on a matter or serving on juries. By all means register to vote. Make a financial contribution to a political campaign; attend city council, planning and zoning or school board meetings.
In many instances, the cost to partake in the aforementioned manner is extremely insignificant, but economic minority seldom engage in these kind of activities, which results in their voices not being heard or opinions weighed.. Subsequently, they are excluded from the political process and their neighborhoods are often omitted from receiving governmental services and benefits. No governmental system is perfect, but in a democracy, participation is essential to realize benefits.
Blacks have a legitimate reason for having trepidations regarding involvement in politics from inception of this country. No other ethnic group in America has been compelled to undergo barbaric, savage, brutal, harsh and cruel treatment as Blacks have at the hands of caucasians during slavery. The scope, callousness and decadence of these malicious intentional actions by caucasians are almost unfathomable and will forever scorch America. This brutal and harsh treatment of Blacks permeated practically every institution of the American economic mainstream. Profits from this dark period in American society provided economic majority with a distinct economic advantage currently enjoyed by many.
Beneficiaries of such profits should relinquish same and underwrite cost for Blacks to receive pro bono education and provide financing for Black owned and operated business enterprises. Depriving one of their life, liberty and survival through forced labor is harsh, cruel and unjust. During this period when rich nations of Portugal, Spain and other European countries commenced to lay claim to the new world of the Caribbean and West Indies, Caucasian Americans captured slaves in Africa and brought them to America to perform the brute labor required to harvest their crop and grow the economy. This is how the practice commenced and it has prevailed throughout America for centuries.
Being compelled to labor daily for no pay, under harsh conditions, from sun up to sundown with no healthcare, no clothing or attire to protect themselves from elements of nature is beastly, barbaric and inhumane. Blacks being deprived of an opportunity to obtain an education and live in decent, safe and sanitary conditions for no reason were decadent and inhumane... Black children being compelled to watch mothers and relatives being raped, lynched, beaten, bound, incarcerated and castrated by white slave masters is intimidating, draining and emotionally devastating.
Such atrocious actions have an enduring impact on persons subjected to this kind of treatment that adversely impacts their psychic into perpetuity. From slavery to Jim Crow (a period in American history when states enacted laws to deprive Blacks of their worth and dignity in any conceivable manner, inclusive of and not limited to hanging, lynching, rape, incarceration, beatings, castration, labor for no pay, no health care or education). Civil rights legislation passed by the U S Congress during the sixties was significant toward curtailing much of this abusive behavior toward Blacks, but it was and continues to be practiced in a more sophisticated manner.
Barack H. Obama was elected 444th president of the United States on November 4, 2008 and took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. Since his election, an extraordinary course of events have transpired relative to his presidency. He was elected in a like manner as other persons that have ascended to this great office, but they were white Anglo Saxon Protestants, typically well-educated and wealthy. In a morbid sense he has been compelled to endure extensively more combat than his predecessors relative to his governing.
President Obama has been brutally attacked with remarks and insults not unleashed on others that have occupied the office of president. Questioning his legitimacy as an American citizen, endless debates on legislation beneficial to American people that has been vetted in every conceivable arena, inclusive of his re-election campaign that his adversaries lost. Finally, Citizens United ruling enacted by the supreme court in January 2010 that permits corporations and unions to expend unlimited funds on political campaigns to defeat or elect a candidate.
This is very far reaching action because campaign funding is crucial in an election and corporations generally have a larger war chest to contribute to an election campaign than individuals. President Obama’s adversaries have one factor that merits attention, they continue to perceive him as the Butler and expect him to respond as same, but he is President of the United States of America.
In spite of these atrocities, Blacks and Hispanics continue to struggle to have an impact in the politico economic fabric of this country. They operate from a premise that being disenfranchised does not cease one from being successful. Even though Jim Crow laws were enacted around 1892 until around mid-1960, Blacks made significant strides. Reportedly, around 1889 O. G. Gurley a wealthy African land owner acquired acreage in Tulsa to be utilized exclusively by Blacks. The primary artery in this neighborhood was known as Greenwood Avenue and around this area Blacks developed commercial enterprises exclusive of white involvement. They catered to each other and were economically self -sufficient and became known as Black Wall Street.
In the mid 1920’s a white female alleged she had been assaulted by a Black male, a riot ensued, whites burned the area and a vast number of Blacks were murdered and incarcerated for defending their property. The area has never been able to be rejuvenated which resulted in the death of Black economically viable neighborhood. During this same period, Madame C J Walker recognized the beauty Blacks saw in their hair and appearance and established a massive hair product enterprise. At one time her business employed in excess of 3,000 women selling products all over America. She made millions for herself and others, and was instrumental in helping to establish the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
Booker T Washington, founder of Tuskegee University, and W E B Dubois, two Black intellectual icons in their own right, had different leadership philosophies but significantly impacted Blacks in America. In 1968 whites were instrumental in the murder of Martin Luther King, perhaps one of the most affable Blacks they could encounter in modern times.
New Horizons and Perspectives
In spite of what has been elaborated upon, positive factors can and will transpire in America with persistence and will power. America has a democratic form of government, and paradoxical as it may seem, democracy is not what government does, but what the populace inspires it to initiate. If people fail to become involved and mandate action, government typically does little or nothing to mandate action. As a precursor to this factor, one can visit practically any community in America and determine the level of constituent participation in government. If people are engaged and paying their taxes, schools will be functioning to help students to further their education and become responsible and productive citizens.
Governmental services such as health, safety and sanitation will be functioning in a positive manner. Commercial enterprises in said locale will tend to be economically vibrant and accountable to the marketplace. If citizens are not engaged with governmental representatives, neighborhoods have a tendency to be poorly maintained, right of ways will be untidy, poor code enforcement will be evident and governmental representative will be seen as occupants as opposed to service partners or representatives.
The primary thrust of economic minority groups in America is to be treated fair and obtain their equitable share of political, economic, governmental and social benefits. This has not transpired when it comes to wealth, power, influence, legacy and quality of life in America for Blacks and Hispanics. These shortcomings should not be entirely attributed to conditions of ethnicity and lack of knowledge by one group to another, but some are self-induced.
Some actors that are essential for improvement in America
1. Parents residing in low performing school districts and economically deprived areas must turn off television and electronic gadgets mesmerizing their children. Thirty five and forty hours per week engaged in such activities is death at an early age especially when the student is failing in school and does not have the ability to read, write and understand arithmetic on his or her grade level. This time shall be devoted to studying and doing homework.
2.At one time summer vacations were essential to the agricultural economy, but this is no longer a factor and students lose academic skills acquired during their summer break. According to U S Department of Education, a typical school day runs some 6.5 hours. This time should be extended to 8 hours per day and school extended to twelve months per year. Reasonable vacation can be allowed for Thanksgiving, .Christmas, new years and 4th of July, but no more than four or five weeks should be allowed because of these factors.
3. Teachers, administrators and support staff should be provided additional compensation, staff, personnel, machinery and equipment essential to accomplish this task. Teachers, school administrators and personnel should not be intimidated by problem children disrupting class to such an extent that their behavior distracts from academic learning that should be occurring. Tardiness and absences must not be permitted. Discipline must be established for schools to thrive, just as safety must be prevalent for neighborhoods to prosper.
4.College readiness and focus should be introduced to students not later than sixth grade. A fundamental introduction of purpose and mission of college and quality of life to be derived from same should be vehemently emphasized. Schools shall provide two hour tutoring after school four days per week for inner city low performing schools.
5. Inner city high school students that fail to demonstrate an interest in higher education or college shall be directed to focus on preparation for training in electronics, culinary arts, welding, technicians and other vocational studies. A tremendous demand exist in each of these areas. These positions command salaries in the $60,000-$$80,000 per annum range and this process could certainly help grow the American economy, and assist inner city students in becoming a part of the American economic mainstream. HBCU.s could function very effectively in this capacity by providing a two year training program where students receive minimal stipends and support services with employment assistance upon completion. Registering to vote and voting in elections will be a perquisite for these students to partake in this program.
The aforementioned recommendations will be no panacea for predicament economic minority is confronting, but it can be a major down payment toward economic self-suffiency. A preponderance of evidence does not exist to ascertain willful efforts to make a certain segment of society obsolete, however, in the event economically disadvantaged individuals fail to alter their initiative regarding education, economics and politics they will eradicate themselves.
In spite of the atrocities inflicted upon a minority population in this nation, and egregious behavior prevalent to this date by one ethnicity to another, America continues to be a marvelous nation. Health care, education and training agricultural economy and technological advancement in America continue to be superior to all other nations, but its moral decadence could be its Achilles’ heel. In order for change to reach fruition, for betterment of those making demands, they must desire change for their upward mobility in a vehement manner.
At some juncture, a plural majority of Americans will comprehend it’s considerably more cost effective and beneficial to educate than incarcerate. As so eloquently articulated by Dr James Canton of the Institute for Global Futures, “competition for skilled labor is the number one issue facing the global work force.” America is a knowledge based economy and those individuals with education, etiquette, skills, experience and political savvy will be in demand, and those who do not possess such characteristics will become extinct.
By F. Eugene Mayo
The author is a Real Estate Broker and Agent, Dallas, Texas and can be reached at f_ mayo @ sbcglobal.net
This was a continuation of last week's America : Making an Economically Impaired Group Obsolescent Part 2.