In my previous blog, I wrote about some of my reviews of history, as well as my point of views on some issues that I have noticed in our society in the U.S. In this blog, you will be reading the views of one man that first hand has had to deal with the issues at play.
Myron Clifton is a 53-year-old author and a blogger. You can check out some of his material on his blog at www.deardean.com. He is a father, Oakland Ca born and raised. He has lived in six different cities across the U.S. and traveled to 15 countries and 36 states.
So here are the questions I asked him and his responses.
How would you describe the social position/role of black people in the US currently?
“African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population or close to 40M people – about the same as the total population of California, and as a community – if African-Americans were a country, with $1.2T – Trillion – spending dollars, would be the 15th largest economy in the world, tied with Mexico.
African-Americans graduate High School at the same rate as white and Asian kids – and have the highest high school graduation growth over the past 50 years. Since The Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in 1957 – saying education that was unfunded and segregated is unconstitutional, Black educational gains have been consistent. But segregation has returned. Once segregation was outlawed, whites moved out of cities, started their own private schools and began homeschooling. Both of these acts resulted in taxpayer dollars as provided by State and Federal governments, declined in city schools where most blacks attend and were redirected to mostly all-white schools and homeschools. The result, as mentioned above, is that the majority of black kids attend schools with mostly black kids, and schools that are vastly underfunded compared to white suburban schools and private schools.
It is telling then to see this statistic: Black women are having the highest college enrollment rate of any race or gender group in the country. And black college graduation rates have grown grew at an astounding rate between 1990 and 2009 – 73% to lead all racial groups. 45% of African-Americans own homes, a large increase that defied redlining by the government and real estate agents, loan refusals by banks, and more loan demands and less family wealth, and lower down payments resulting in high default risks.”
What do you believe to be a good approach to positively lift the black people from ghettos and poverty?
“27% of African-Americans live in poverty – conversely, 63% of African-Americans DO NOT live in poverty. That is not to say that poverty is acceptable at the current rate. But it is to refine the language from the digital and print media who perpetuate the stereotype that all or most blacks live in poverty. Hispanic poverty rates are 26%, and whites at 10%, for comparisons.
It is proven the world over that the most critical aspects to moving out of poverty are: a. Education (especially girls – early education for girls decreases reproduction which is a poverty driver); b. Access to healthcare, including girl’s access to abortions; c. home support for education (these are universal and not exclusive to black kids/families.
In addition, school funding, experienced teachers (most black kids are taught by the least experienced teachers, when compared to white/suburban kids).
And, finally, access to capital – i.e., banks (which do not locate in black communities, which forces black families to utilize check cashing businesses which charge excessive interest rates (some as high as 300%). Again, these remedies are universal and not exclusive to black communities.”
Why do you believe most incarcerated people are black men?
“To start: African-Americans make up 40% of US prison populations and whites make up 39%, virtually the same. Except when one considers that AA make up only 12% of the US population, one can see that a disproportionate percentage of the US prison population is African-American. Hispanic is 19%.
When we break down WHY blacks are in prison, a story emerges. Fully HALF of the blacks who are in prison are in prison for a non-violent drug offense – mostly weed. We also know that blacks and whites consume weed at about the same rate (whites are slightly but insignificantly higher) but blacks are arrested at 4x the rates as whites for the same weed offenses. And black men receive federal sentences 19% longer than whites for the SAME OFFENSES. If all these things were, what we call in corporate America “Normalized”, then black incarceration rates would drop dramatically and be more representative to their overall population. Why does this happen though?
Consider: 95% of prosecutors are white, 71% of judges are white, 64% of cops are white, most juries are almost all white, and even most prison guards are white and, finally, every single prison for profit (these are prisons that are outsourced to private companies) are white person owned. I’d invite you to watch on Netflix – the 13th – which is a documentary on the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF THE INCARCERATED – watch that and the 2M+ prison population starts to make sense in this country. It is by design.
It is for this reason four significant legal changes were made in the past ten years:
- Many States began legalizing marijuana consumption (little to no violence, overcrowded jails, unequal enforcement, devastation within the black community due to the cycle of: arrested given a felony; lost male at home, creating single-parent homes, and lower income, leading to loss of voting rights due to a felony, leading to little to no job prospects due to felony on background checks, lead to not being able to live in government housing, lead to higher percentage of black kids in foster homes, and so on.
- States stopped what was known as “stop and frisk” – most notably New York, which targeted black motorist who had, say, a broken taillight, and used the stop to search for weed, and then arrested the drivers. These policies were determined to be unconstitutional because cops focused on black/brown drivers and increased arrests for these mostly men, and ignored white men with the same weed issues and who use more narcotics – cocaine, opioids, etc., than blacks but who aren’t arrested for their drug usage.
- Early release for nonviolent offenders
- Reduction of non-violent offenses from a felony to non-felony, and with the restoration of voting rights.”
What would be a way to reduce the number of incarcerated black people?
“See above but also, stop over-policing black people -not just poor or those in “ghettos” but all black people. Retrain cops – actually, I want all cops fired and to start over as a nation (police forces were first created in this country as SLAVE HUNTERS for capturing runaway slaves. Think on that for a moment.”
How could we improve the lack of father figure presence amongst the black communities?
“This is not a full question due to the “married” angle. That is, the statistics that are most commonly cited about the lack of fathers, black fathers, are based on marriage. That is, a married man and woman, who have kids. So when we look deeper what we see is that black women marry less than almost all other racial subgroups of women and (have fewer babies than white women) but are MORE LIKELY to have a baby while not married, thus contributing to the false narrative that black fathers are absent. When looked at deeper still – what % of fathers, married OR UNMARRIED see their children monthly, black fathers see their kids 67% of the time, whereas 59% of white men, and 32% of Hispanic men do the same. This story completely flips when looked at deeper and so we need to look at who is spreading and keeping the false narrative alive and why? 99% of media – print, digital, radio, network, etc., is white owned and operated in the US (Univision being a wonderful exception).”
What are some ways to improve the relationship between blacks and whites in the US?
“In the black community it is said: Why are we, the oppressed, tasked with fixing what we didn’t break, what we don’t work to sustain, and what we suffer from? As stated above – corporations, banks, government, cops, judges, prosecutors and so on are white and work hard to maintain the status quo benefits and sustains white hegemony. Power doesn’t give up power. Blacks have never asked to take over or get more – blacks have always asked for equality, first and end. That’s it. We want a fair share of our labor (slavery made the US rich and made all Western countries rich and it is estimated that the slave trade -the goods, textiles, and such that permeated the western world from free slave labor is valued at 3T – trillion dollars or more. That wealth went to 100% white people. After four-hundred years of slavery, blacks were emancipated in 1865, right? Nope. What followed was 100+ years of what we call Jim Crow – the law of the land whereby blacks could not vote, own homes, get loans, own farms, and more. Then blacks were free after Civil Rights laws were passed, right? Nope. Those laws passed WHILE I WAS ALIVE. Think on that for a moment. So now you literally have ONE GENERATION of free blacks and while every single one of our “metrics” has improved, we of course haven’t caught up to 400 years of whites getting a headstart, even though whites say: it’s just your culture or community or lack of values. To which we reply: hey assholes, give us a 400 year head start, let’s enslave you for that entire time so that all the money you make us is free to us because you get none, and let’s see how well we do and how well you do.”
What are the biggest challenges that black people face today?
“I would say this answer is universal for all peoples and Americans. Clean air and food; housing and healthcare, income equality, funded schools and infrastructure, access to capital for starting small businesses, move away from organized religion and to my Goddess and Daughter (lol), police brutality, and corrupt courts and jails/prisons.”
What are some role models you would recommend to young black kids today? And why?
“Well… I’d say: Michelle and Barack Obama – to learn about service, education, dignity, and how to rise above whatever your situation is. Rosa Parks. Dr King. Malcolm X. Langston Hughes. Ta Nehisi Coates (best black writer in the world right now), Oprah, Ava DuVernay, the Little Rock Nine (look up, awesome) Ryan Coogler (directed: Fruitvale, Creed, and…… Black Panther and he’s from Oakland! Shonda Rhimes, Misty Copeland, Thurgood Marshall, Huey P. Newton (started Black Panthers – from Oakland) Kamala Harris, Condoleezza Rice, DeRay McKesson.. I could really go on..”
What obstacles do you feel you had to overcome solely for being black? And how did you overcome them?
“The expectation of low expectations. The expectation of doing drugs and of getting in trouble. Overcoming being seen as a threat just for my skin color – one black person wrote: “When I walk the streets and see a white woman alone, I am more concerned about her safety than my own because if something happens to her, I will possibly be killed just for being in the area”.
I don’t know that I overcame them, but I have successfully managed my way through far too many situations and frankly, they are tiring and exhausting.”
What would you tell a young black kid today that may be going through similar situations?
“I think I’d say: always be aware of your surroundings; do more – more work, more living, more loving, and more openness.”
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