What is position do Black American hold in society today? If Black Americans were to just disappear without a trace, would it effect America economically, politically, and socially? The answer is yes, but we would not have the power to survive on our own. The only power that we truly have is buying power in America. Black Americans are infamous for putting their money into things that are materialistic rather than things that will turn their money over. Things that will build up the community such as black owned establishments. Despite the economic set backs we place ourselves in, politically we have no strong voices and our social leaders do not seem to understand how to elevate the problems that continue to plaque our society. Who can we turn to? I am convinced that if we trace back to learn theories of past African America leaders on these issues then we can eventually come to new heights. This paper will identify the primary economic, political, and social needs of African Americans at the turn of the century and determine if the philosophies of Booker T. Washington, WEB DuBois, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X can eliminate some of these issues.
The number one problem in for Black societies is the lack of economical development. True, there are Black owned business, but the businesses do not provide longevity in the communities. For example, in my community there was a soul food restaurant that just open up and before you could blink an eye it seem as if some on else other than Black American bought out the owners. Eventually that business will be passed down through the bloodline of whoever bought it and the person who has sold it has depleted the profit that they made form the business. That profit would have bestowed money that could have provided different venues of business therefore supplying more jobs in the community. Black Americans can build an economic standing community by increasing blacked own businesses, investment, money management, and the reduction of governmental policies that are race specific. In other words the government must provide equal access to quality education, employment for all Americans ( Williamso 332). Our present economic status can be blame on our past if there is blame is to be made. Other races are able to identify with home countries to improve their economic status, for example through trade. Black Americans on the other hand have a barrier because Black Americans were stolen of their homeland. Instead we can relate to Africa as a country of origin but we can not identify with their culture. Consequently we have had to build up our own economic status. For example, The Reconstruction Era is a perfect reason as to why Black American are having a hard time establish economic development.
After Emancipation Proclamation the nation was unprepared to deal with the question of full citizenship for the freed black population. I imagine after leaving the plantation, they left with nothing in their hands (“Reconstruction and Its Aftermath”). All they had were their trades that the learned form being slaves these trades could have definitely produce economic wealth. These are the ideas of Booker T. Washington. Washington believed that Blacks could obtain economic securities through vocational education rather than focusing on success through social and political advancements. During the Reconstruction blacks were most concern with acquiring equal rights along with their freedom and not establishing them selves economically. Washington implemented these ideas in his monumental speech September 18, 1895 and it later became known as the Atlanta Compromise. The Atlanta Compromise goes in further details about how “races could work together in the economic progress as united as one hand while remaining socially separate as fingers” ( Booker T. Washington and the Atlanta Compromise 1). Washington received many disagreements on his ideas of race relations, but it was also given positive feed back. Booker T. Washington ideas could have probably saved us from the economic devastation that we are now facing . At the turn of the century, Black Americans now have are more advanced in education, hold all sorts of degrees and things of that nature then they have in the past, but we still remain in this economic bind. If the ideas of Booker T. Washington was used now to promote a recuperating of Black America’s economic status then there many be hope.
It is evident that Black Americans have excelled in the arts and things of that nature. There has been a culture started by young Black Americans over 25 years ago that is now being duplicated and imitated all over the world. Envision if Black America dominated the hip- hop culture totally, the outcome will result in definite economic power and there certain to be, coining the old phrase “more money, more power.” This could have been achieved through the same ideas rendered through the Atlanta Compromise.
Another problem that seems to ride in the black communities is the vast unemployment rates. Blacks not being employed like they should clearly puts a damper on the economic situation. In book, Black Employment: The Impact of Religion , Economic Theory, Politics, and Law, Irving Kovarsky explains that:
The unemployment rate for Blacks is Twice that for whites. In fact it is higher for nonwhite high school graduates than for white high school dropouts… labor force participation rate for nonwhites has been declining, but it has been stable for
Whites, not only that but blacks with equivalent jobs or education have lower incomes than their white counterparts. (77)
This information is to really be taken into consideration of how Blacks have limitations placed upon them. Limitations that will give a black man and a white man an equivalent job and education and the white man will make more money. Any Black who has experience life in the working force can definitely say that racism obviously there. That may yet be another reason to enforce Booker T. Washington’s concepts of obtaining economic securities through vocational education rather than focusing on success through social and political advancements (Booker T. Washington). Investment in education, training programs, medical care, and housing to improve the quality of human capitol is necessary for economic growth ( 82). In the 21st century Black Americans are making strides in education, but so is every other culture and ethic group. It is not out of the ordinary to hold a bachelor’s degree in this day and age. Therefore if we were relying the soul need of education Black American still would remain under because very few on them are attaining higher degrees to compete. Medical care is also something that goes neglected in Black societies, if self is not attended to first then how can then it can not be expected to perform well on a job. There is an unknown reason as to why Black Americans do not want to invest in medical care to stabilize their health to perform well in the work force. This dilemma is just not racial because there are other minorities and Whites that are having this same problem. Blacks can eliminate this problem through be knowledgeable about how to keep a health life in order to perform successful. Moreover, Black Americans can use the ideas in the Atlanta Compromise, but use them in an undated fashion. For instance, Black Americans need to apply the skills to gain profit. There should be less emphasis placed on equal rights and discrimination, because once there is a economic power gain all of that will come into place. People that want your product and know that it will sell will have to treat you, as the equal especially if there is something that wants to be gain. Money is certainly power that is why I am convinced that the ideas of Booker T. Washington will promote economic wealth in the Black communities.
In the 21st century Black American have found themselves with no political voices to help gain the “natural freedoms” that Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution has entitled for us. This is what a lot of Black American believes, but now Black American are more accessible to these rights then they were in the past. Black Americans now have power that they could fully use in the past, this power is granted in all 50 states, this power is the power of voting. Black Americans always have complaints about the political on goings and whose in office but very few of them utilize their voting powers. Political parties are the one who have authority over legislative laws and governing, but it is the people who put representatives in positions in certain political parties. In the essay “Measuring Black Political Power”, Chuck Stone clarifies, “ The power of political parties is measured by the degree of sovereignty they exercise over the heads of government… The measurement of political power of an ethnic group, an economic class or another interest group is far more difficult (254). I believe that Stone is state that it is more difficult because again their voice is not being heard. For instance, Black Americans always tend to protest when anything goes wrong socially in the community but they still don’t not take time to vote not realizing that in the long run it end the discrimination and the injustice. Some Blacks feel though vote is not going to make the difference because they feel that the power will still be in the man of the “man”. This attitude is ignorant, because they would rather get use by the system and not use it. Black American want to put their faith in civil- rights leaders, and they are not aware that civil- rights leader can get up a good boycott but not a good vote. In summary civil-right leaders make good marchers but poor politicians. Black American are also not aware that our civil- rights would not be in jeopardy if we would utilize our vote rights. The next question is why is it that Black Americans are not using there voting powers. I have come to the come to believe that they would like more people in office that resemble themselves. WEB Dubois believed that Black American should educate themselves appropriately so that they can obtain jobs that will allow them to hold political position, Stone affirms that, “ Black people are rarely appointed to heads of departments that control finance, real estate, construction, city contracts, public works, buildings, and taxes. Instead they saturate the departments of welfare, human relations, and education. There is little to none political power in these departments” (262). This is something that has been going on for sometime now and it still continues now during this century. Du Bois theories are based on the improvement of Black American community. It will help broaden the existence of political leaders that will make a difference.
Lastly, the most important problem that arises in Black American society is social issues. On the brink of 21st century Black America has been plaque police violence, and other racial violence. For example, in St. Louis 20 police bullets attacked two young men (Farrow 1). This situation is happen to often ,when we are suppose to be more equal, but yet we are not being treated as such. How should we address these issue of police brutality? I feel if Black American have the economic standing and political the social will follow. As stated before, money is definitely power, therefore by economic gain we should be to have power or all that is destructive. I am not suggesting that Black American should go out as vigilantes, but I am recommending that Black American use the ideas of Leaders as Malcolm x, Martin, Washington and Du Bois to excel ourselves. Martin Luther King has also was believed that Black American should fight back in none violent way (Dolan 45). Unfortunately, he has lost his life to the one thing that he strong did not believe in, true his effort did not be come unnoticed, but what was he really fighting for? Black Americans need to wake and realize that importance of status economic, political, and social and realize that they all depend on one another and that we must start with one to have all of them come to new heights.