“We must stop relying upon the White man to care for us. We must become an independent people.”—the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman
“That old slave mentality that keeps us at odds with one another and dependent on White people has to be broken.”— Minister Louis Farrakhan, A Torchlight for America
Black America is in a prime position to chart its own destiny and path toward a better and brighter future, but it will take focus, working together and a commitment to implementing realistic and practical strategies to move forward. During the first few days in the new administration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, anger, fear, dissatisfaction and uncertainty has gripped millions of people inside and outside America. But, in the midst of turmoil, chaos and confusion, can Blacks use this as an opportunity to begin building a bright future?
“Electoral politics are necessary but they are not sufficient for Black liberation,” said economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux. “By that I mean is, the Trump presidency is indeed disconcerting, puzzling and troubling. But even had Secretary Hillary Clinton won we still would not have immediately closed the gap. So we have to look in our communities at the things that we can do to close gaps,” said Dr. Malveaux, president emerita of Bennett College for Women and author of “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy.”
One of Black America’s biggest challenges explained Dr. Malveaux is, “although we don’t have our fair share, we also are not doing the most we can with what we do have.”
“We’re not going to get a bigger slice of the pie under Trump but can we maximize our own resources internally so that we can have more? We’re not going to get it because Mr. Trump gives it or because Mr. Trump does anything in particular,” she added.
Analyzing the numbers
According to the U.S. Census Bureau the population of Blacks either alone or in combination with one or more races was 46. 3 million on July 1, 2015, an increase of 1.3 percent from the previous year. The Black population alone or in combination with one or more races is projected to jump to 74.5 million by 2060 which would make up 17.9 percent of the U.S. population. Blacks currently have $1.2 trillion in buying power, and there are 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S. All except for 109,137 or 4.2 percent, of Black or African American-owned firms were non-employers.
When it comes to education, 84.7 percent of the Black population 25 and older has a high school diploma, 20.2 percent of that same age group has a bachelor’s degree or higher and 2.8 million Blacks were enrolled in undergraduate college in 2015. Yet when it comes to unemployment rates and wages, Blacks still lag behind.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Black-White wage gaps are larger today than they were in 1979. “Relative to the average hourly wages of White men with the same education, experience, metro status, and region of residence, Black men make 22.0 percent less, and Black women make 34.2 percent less,” notes the Washington, D.C.-based group. Among other statistics the institute noted is that the Black-White wealth gap is larger than the wage gap. Median White wealth is $134,000 or 12 times higher than median Black wealth at $11,000. Twentyseven percent of Black households have zero net worth compared to nine percent of White households.
Housing discrimination, housing segregation and environmental racism particularly in poor and minority communities is also connected to health, future economic well-being and crime rates, noted “Racial gaps in wages, wealth, and more: a quick recap” written by Elise Gould on epi.org.
In many of these areas, Blacks and Native Americans are disproportionately at the bottom.
“In other words, Black Americans face particular difficulties in trying to get ahead themselves or helping their children get ahead—in achieving the elusive American dream,” notes EPI. But all is not lost.
The ultimate challenge
There are things we can do to be more efficient with our resources internally, explained Dr. Malveaux. “That’s where we need to look now.” Focusing on politics from the perspective that there are going to be as many as 33 U.S. Senators up for re-elections in 2018, as well as focusing on state and local elections is one strategy, she continued. But economics is the key area where Blacks have tended to pay less attention than politics, Dr. Malveaux pointed out.