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Black Americans should prove their mettle

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, September 10th, 2020
George Floyd death.
In summary

Ever since the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd while in police custody for suspected fraud outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, race relations in the US have never been more toxic. 

Similar to the 1950s and 1960s, Blacks in America are currently fighting against modern institutionalised racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation.

While racism in the country is now subtle, it is just as devastating as it was five decades ago. 

Lately, African Americans are bearing the brunt of Covid-19’s health, social and economic impact than any other race. 

In May, data from the American Public Media Research Lab showed staggering racial disparity in the coronavirus death rate, with blacks dying three times more than whites. 

However, blacks in the US are not necessarily sinned against than sinning. Even as the race has been a victim of prejudice and injustice, blacks have also done bad things to themselves.

For instance, black-on-black crime and violence has the highest mortality rate in the US, with 93 per cent of blacks being killed by their own.

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley puts the issue in perspective: “The black crime rate in 1960 was lower than it is today … Was there less racism or less poverty than in 1960?

This is about black behaviour. It needs to be addressed head-on. It’s about attitudes toward the criminal justice system in these neighbourhoods, where young black men have no sense of what it means to be a male or what it means to be black.”

To be fair, Trump is not the architect of the current racial crisis in the country.

Pallbearers carry the coffin with George Floyd’s body into the church for funeral service in Houston, Texas. Photo/AFP

It is curious that the Black Lives Matter (BLM)movement was formed in 2013, during the term of the first African American president Barrack Obama. But what would Obama honestly say he achieved for his race?

Now, there are things that the Constitution cannot accomplish for African Americans.

The black community has been accused of perpetuating a pity party to manipulate the ‘system’ to automatically accede to their demands without accountability. 

Even when some of them are clearly in the wrong, they expect preferential treatment, simply on account of being black.   

Going forward, a middle ground must be sought for blacks to feel a legitimate part of the American society. 

Some kind of reparations is one of the ways that would create much needed harmony between the two conflicting races.

An Opinion published on July 26 by Jacob M. Schlesinger on the Wall Street Journal titled, Reparations to Black Americans for Slavery Gain New Attention seems to confirm this idea, with the rider that, “The House looks to approve for the first time a commission to study compensating for slavery and longtime discrimination”.

Schlesinger argues that, “The reparations debate is a symbol of how far Americans have moved since the late-May killing of George Floyd in their willingness to re-examine persisting racial discrimination in everything from law enforcement and wealth to health care and education.”

Unfortunately, this observation conflicts with the current Whites’ popular support for the BLM.

Although the presumptive Democratic Party candidate Jose Biden was the first major party leader to endorse the Bill since Congress initiated it in 1989, polls at the time showed that white voters were still strongly opposed to the idea. 

Analysts say that Blacks must show what they are made of, apart from their claim as accomplished artistes and sportsmen.

They should prove their mettle in, for instance, in science, technology and academia.  — The writer is a communications expert and public policy analyst- [email protected]

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