By any measurement, Blacks hold the short end of the stick of America’s bounty.
When it comes to life and living in America, Blacks earn less than Whites, have a smaller amount of money in the bank and live fewer days. African Americans have been shortchanged in America’s wealth and opportunity to gain and maintain it. Blacks have little semblance of the wealth of Whites. White households own nearly eight times as much wealth as Blacks. Studies show that if current trends continue, it will take 228 years for the average Black family to reach the same level of wealth White families have today.
So, when will we get paid too? Black or White, nobody dares to talk about slavery. America’s slave economy made it rich. Race-based social dominance and centuries-long crime against humanity furthered racial inequality every generation of Blacks that arrived in this country. Institutional practices of racism continue across the nation; yet Blacks remain mute, instead of collective agitation toward “redress” of this debt, and just “dream” that racism will go away, or like MLK delude “justice rolling down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
A slave was given no human recognition. Slavery and its American successors spun an enormous racial wealth gap. Blacks should want remedy. The average wealth for White families is seven times higher than average wealth for Black families. Median White wealth (wealth for the family) is twelve times higher than median Black wealth. One in four Black households have zero or negative net worth, compared to less than one in 10 White families without wealth. Blacks have not been allowed to accrue wealth crucially important to economic health. Wealth their families acquired centuries ago still exists as legacy portfolios and allows those families to transfer income earned in the past to meet spending demands into the future. Inheritance wealth Whites benefit from today provides a buffer of economic security against periods of unemployment, or risk-taking ventures such as starting a business.
The failure to recognize the essential role of slavery in the construction and development of America reflects a common, and colluded, dismissal of the significance of the contributions enslaved Americans made. Public discussions on the subject are too rare. This speaks to the way that Black and White Americans have different collective memories and treasure of the period.
If Blacks want equality in America, we need to initiate a robust, and public examination of slavery, as well as hold community-wide conversations that establish more common history of slavery across America. There is little room for any Black ambivalence on the subject. Remember this life’s lesson: if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Black Americans should not forget the history of slavery, those involved, or its consequences. Yet, considerable social and political pressures suppress and restrain our public remembrance and foster our neglect of this fundamental feature of American history and identity.
Political empowerment isn’t working, Blacks keep voting for the same people the without demanding anything and accepting little results. The political alliances and allegiance we’ve had haven’t produced the collective wealth that the $15 trillion reparations/debt will bring descendants of slaves. It’s time we “wake up” and “stay woke” and become broadly conscious of debts we’re owed because of slavery.
Blacks must cease their naivety and move to establish formal systems of reparations for the systemic injustices borne by African Americans. Conscious Blacks need to push reparations to the center of discourse by initiating conversations among our family and friends on the issue.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.