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ITS TOUGH BEING BLACK IN AMERICA

Jan 21st, 2014 by James Breedlove | 0

President Barack Obama in his live video message told attendees at the 10th annual State of the Black Union conference on February 28, 2009 in Los Angeles that, “tough times for America often mean tougher times for African-Americans.”

His prophetic words have become a reality at every level of the African American landscape as Blacks are increasingly being forced into defensive mode.  No one seems to be exempt from attack.  Blacks targeted run the gamut from the rich and powerful, to distressed middle class families, and laid off single parents trying to save their homes from foreclosure.

A report released on March 17, 2010 by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of congress provides an in-depth look at unemployment and long-term unemployment among African Americans and shows that the current Great Recession has been absolutely crushing on the African American community.

The report found that the unemployment rate for blacks is more than six percentage points higher than the overall national unemployment rate.  From February 2007 to February 2010, unemployment among African American men more than doubled, climbing from 9.0 percent to 19.0 percent.  During this same period the unemployment rate for African American women increased from 7.1 percent to 13.1 percent.

Blacks are also experiencing longer periods of unemployment than the general population.  Though African Americans make up 11.5 percent of the labor force, they account for 17.8 percent of the unemployed, 20.3 percent of those unemployed for more than six months, and 22.1 percent of the workers unemployed for a year or more.  Of the unemployed African Americans Forty-five percent have been out of work for six months or more.

Blacks who’ve been encouraged to obtain four-year college degrees so they could find better and more secure employment are unemployed at a rate of 8.2 percent compared to the 4.5 percent rate of whites with similar levels of education.

These statistics, while frightening, do not fully characterize the breadth of the tough times Blacks are experiencing.  From the president, to black congress members, to sports stars, there seems to be a never ending list of Blacks being castigated.

The question naturally arises; is racism behind this sudden fixation on powerful blacks?  In the case of President Obama much of the hostility and vitriol directed at him goes well beyond political disagreement over the economy, the wars, or the direction of the country and has the distinct odor of rank racism.

The names Tiger Woods, John Lewis, Charles Rangel, and David Paterson can be added to the growing list of notable Blacks confronting challenging times.

There is ample justification to consider conspiracy theory or Klansman mentality as the driving force behind the suspicious actions and inflammatory rhetoric of Tea Party activists and conservative media both to undermine Blacks in powerful positions and turn the clock back on the civil rights gains achieved during the latter part of the 20th century.

John Schmitt, senior analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, adds another variable for consideration in his report Inequality as Policy.  The dramatic increase in inequality in the United States is not due to chance circumstances but is the direct result of a set of policies designed first and foremost to increase inequality.

The debate over the causes of this Black antagonism could go on ad-infinitum with no definitive conclusion.  In reality, it could be a combination of racism, the current economic environment, a backlash against America’s first black president, or simply the reaction of a small segment of unenlightened Americans conflicted that the natural order of society as they perceive it is changing.

The real reasons may never be uncovered but the realities of life must be dealt with as they occur.

Life is tough no matter one’s status, background or position.  But the apostle Paul gives us guidance in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 on what needs to be done to excel in the race that life necessitates.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.   Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

While Paul was symbolizing the race for salvation the principles he advocates are applicable to running the race in our secular lives.  Blacks must be prepared to pay with the sweat of their brow to get anything worthwhile.  The days of getting something for nothing are fast disappearing so we need to roll up our sleeves and get busy.

We need to stop crying the blues so much and wishing for somebody else to do something to give us the abundant life promised as God’s benefactors.  Yes, there will be problems along the way but no one wants to hear the constant wail of groaning and moaning.

Paul said succeeding in the race of life takes determination, dedication, discipline and perseverance.  Anything less subjects the runner to disqualification.

 James W. Breedlove

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: www.truthclinic.com

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