Letters_20to_20Editor_380419663Dear Editor,

“One hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”  

The physical shackles of slavery were outlawed in the West Indies in 1865, and some 30 years later in the United States.  However, a nefarious system, deviously implemented during the waning days of slavery as an established institution, ensured that African slave descendents never really got off the plantation.  The very carefully devised establishment is the same that oppresses African nations today, crippling their abilities to break free from debt and realize true economic independence.  Appendages from this evil institution, also ensure that African American/black males are kept in check, via overtly barbaric methods like private prison incentives; the creation of racist, fraternal/social networks amongst law enforcement officers; and the funding of right-wing terror and political groups.   Their tight grip over the lives, economic and political affairs of not only African Americans, but also Caribbean and African nations is quite evident today.  

One has to only read the top headlines to realize that a silent war is being waged on people of color, particularly played out in the United Sates of America.  This silent war sometimes splashes the headlines in blood red with the overt execution of African American males by police.  This silent war, long waged within the inner cities of America, nourishes the private penal system with the life force of countless, innocent souls.  Many of its victims, people of color, are sentenced for the slightest of offences, or are wrongly accused. The likes of Whole Foods, Walmart, and even McDonald’s owe their profits in large part to the contemporary system of slavery where, adjusted for population representation, over 90% of inmates on prison farms are black males.  

The routine practices of racial profiling, random stop-and-frisk, and brazen false arrests, have touched the last nerve of every decent person in society.  A few police officers, in an over zealous attempt to fulfil quotas, or just because of plain racial biases, have made terminal decisions that they will have to live with.  The open executions of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Michael Moore demonstrate the boldness and impunity that the system gives to US law enforcement officers.  Over three-quarters of all cops responsible for the slaying of innocent civilians, have never been, and at least for the foreseeable future, are not expected to be indicted and/or be sentenced.  One may hold the opinion that police misconduct is on the rise. This is largely false, because the proliferation of visual recording devices over time brings the harsh reality of the mean streets into households the world over.  

These egregious practices have spawned groups such as Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panther Party, to undertake outspoken and sometimes drastic measures in order to highlight the plight of system injustices. According to surveys however, over 35% of mainstream (white) America will back brutal police action against minorities and whites themselves.  This compares to a 75% disapproval rate among African Americans and Hispanics.  So globally glaring are the violent acts of the system, particularly against males of colour, that the Bahamas, Bahrain, and the UAE issued travel advisory warnings to their US-bound citizens.  The travel warnings also come about because of the growing unrest between police departments and active civil rights groups.  An extreme case was the shooting in Dallas last week of five police officers by Micah Johnson, himself not being affiliated with any such groups.

In light of the gross social and racial inequities heralded by the system, one has to ask, where did Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream disappear to? Is it more like the opening of his “I Have a Dream” speech, that the “Negro” is still bound by chains of discrimination and confined within walls of segregation? Recent surveys have indicated that race relations (between blacks and whites) have ebbed to their lowest ever, since the 1960s.  Whereas before, hate speech was met with serious disdain by media outlets and their audiences, hate comments now make up the best rated in terms of popularity and most liked.  Extreme white-pride and right-wing groups will spew out statistics about the number of “lazy” African Americans leeching off the system; the high number of black-on-black crimes; pseudo-scientific inferior being theories; and some even venture as far as to stigmatize and castigate black people within a seemingly rationale, Christian religious context.

But what if, as the statistics show, that African Americans committed 52% of all homicides between 1980 and 2008?  And what if, as data shows that the majority of broken homes, and high school drop-outs, and single pregnant women represent a far higher population proportion in comparison to their American Caucasian counterparts?  Well, these paint a picture of a failing peoples, right? Nothing could be further from the implied supposition of the last question.  American society is witnessing the consequences of a nation turned unto its self, not a black-white issue.  Ironically, it was the Republican Party who in 1865 commenced some of the greatest rehabilitation projects for former slaves. These activities came under the nomenclature of Reconstruction era projects.  One of the goals of Reconstruction was to establish a nation, so that former slaves could contribute to American society as near equal rights citizens.  That 15 year era yielded some of the greatest American achievements in science, academia, politics, and construction by African American innovators, politicians, and doctors.  There was a swollen pride in black America that this country was at long last, the land of dreams and hopes.  But alas, to the detriment of succeeding black America, the old white southern mentality of envy, greed and jealousy ensured that black owned businesses were looted and burnt, that lynching was tripled, and that these new laws which “took away our niggers” were to be repealed in congress.  Disillusion, despair, and hopelessness gripped a large portion of African Americans, who once believed in another dream – that of Abraham Lincoln.

A system of inhumane treatment, segregation, racial profiling, and pseudo-scientific theories continued to plague African Americans.  Hopes for a new way of life free from discrimination and opportunities for progression later (circa. 1910) attracted many ambitious African Americans to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  A particular area, Greenwood Avenue, was settled in because it did not cross into white neighbourhoods.   The American Dream was once more revived, as African Americans became immersed in banking, trading, medicine, law, and other industry.  So successful was Greenwood Avenue, that it became known as Black Wall Street.  To the envy of their white neighbours, enough was enough.  A story was concocted about an attack in an elevator of a white girl by a shoe-shine boy.  With support from the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), hoards of white mobs descended upon Greenwood in one of the most savage, bestial riots ever recorded in American history.  Tulsa also witnessed America’s first aerial bombardment of a city.  Actually, this portion was removed from American history, only to be recently re-instated.  When the dust settled, some 3,000 African Americans lay dead, and over 600 businesses lost.    

The devastation of Tulsa seeped into the psyche of countless African Americans nationwide.  The sentiment that this nation was not for them sunk in fast and deep.  No longer was the American Dream worth being lived for.  Despair, desperation, and a “live-for-today” mentality embedded itself within African American communities.   

Fast forward to today, and conditions have economically improved for African Americans.  However, the manifestation of decades of discrimination, injustice, and inequality have left their marks on entire swathes of black Americans.  Laws have been enacted which allow for just enough mobility of blacks to satisfy the system quota, but also to keep the threat of a “black” take-over in check.  Now more than ever since slavery was abolished, we see black lawyers, congressmen, CEOs, and other professionals increasing in number.  However, figures for African Americans living below the poverty line far outweigh those for their white counterparts.  In just about every economic and well-being measurement index, African Americans trail behind white Americans.  

Therefore in light of the above presented, we can safely state that Dr. King’s Dream has not yet been entirely realized.   The maleficent system which has and continues to oppress people of colour, is part of a much larger order, which in and of itself, is evil.  This abhorrent system can only be dismantled through education and awareness, persistent civil protests, unity, and an inspiration for the future.  The good news is the foundation has started to crack.