Black History Month: Black progress in America is just an illusion | Opinion

Published: Feb. 15, 2022

By Bashir Muhammad Ptah Akinyele

 

Bashir Muhammad Ptah Akinyele teaches history and Africana Studies in Newark public schools. He says over the years, the interests of the African American community have been pushed aside in the United States by both the Republican and Democratic parties.

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White supremacy has been in existence since the founding of America, and as a result, Black people suffer in warped systems of racial discrimination.

Black people form a permanent underclass, fostered by the American legal system that has established laws to protect the racial mistreatment of Black people.

As a consequence of this racist American legal system, people of African descent could not live like their white counterparts. Black people have been legally controlled, demeaned, and prevented from progressing in the U.S.

By the 1950s, Black people started to fight back against racism and segregation, and during that period, the Civil Rights movement bloomed.

African Americans formed coalitions and alliances with other groups and challenged both political parties to change racist laws that legally reduced Black people to the lowest realms of American society. And as a result of years of mass rallies led by Black leaders, the African American community won significant civil rights and voting rights protections.

In 1966 the Black Power movement emerged. This form of Black liberation helped African Americans to develop a high level of Black cultural pride while holding racism and white supremacy accountable to social justice.

Black people made tremendous gains because of America’s Civil Rights and Black Power movements. By the 1970s, African Americans were more visible in all sectors of society. There were more mayors, councilmembers, judges, congressmen, businesses, educational opportunities, athletes, and TV shows that featured Black characters.

When these new social changes began to take shape in the United States, many people – Black and white – believed African Americans were moving toward equality.

African American concerns are pushed aside by both the Republican and the Democratic parties.

Incarceration rates soared, and a disproportionate number of Black people began to be locked up in the penal system compared to whites. Police violence against Black people increased.

Good paying livable wage jobs dried up in and around the Black neighborhoods. Poverty and joblessness increased dramatically. Black people began to live under depression levels of poverty. Black wealth never became equal to white wealth.

Drug addiction increased in the African American community, and substance abuse became a crime. Senseless violence increased, and Black people became the group with the highest number of homicide victims in America.

Black progress has lagged further and further behind whites and even other non-Black cultures in America.

In Newark, this downward spiral unleashed itself in a 1967 rebellion.

In this context, the sons and daughters of the Civil Rights and Black power movements are calling for a new Black agenda. Fifty years ago, the National Black Political Convention (NBPC) took place in Gary, Indiana, with the leadership of the late Black power leader-Imamu Amiri Baraka.

In that same year, Amiri Baraka successfully helped elect Ken Gibson as the city’s first African American mayor right after Black people rose to fight back decades of racial oppression in the form of the Newark rebellion in 1967.

The conveners of this years’ NBPC are Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Jackson, Mississippi’s Mayor Chockwe Lumumba, and the late legendary Jazz and R&B producer James Mtume. Find information here on the upcoming 2022 National Black Political Convention in Newark.

Black progress is stagnant; change must now come to the African American community because America is still unequal.

Bashir Muhammad Ptah Akinyele is a high school history and Africana Studies teacher in Newark public schools. He is also the co-coordinator of the Association for Study of Classical African Civilizations study group Chapter in Newark and an organizer for the National Black Political Convention.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-02-16 02:46:39 -0800