Time for change

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I am not poor.  I never have been and if all goes well, I never will be.  My father was a doctor, my mother a stay at home mom, and they raised me and my seven siblings in a very nice community in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Anything a baby boomer kid could ever need in life was available to me, a safe and loving home in a great neighborhood,  opportunities to follow my interests and dreams, and the expectation that I was going to be a success in life because I had every advantage society had to offer at the time.

You see, I am also not black.  I make no claim to know what it is like to be black in America, but I have studied race relations both in America and other nations far more than the average white person has.  I understand the frustrations of whites who feel too many blacks use race as an excuse for their plight, but also have seen first hand the way some whites react differently to blacks.  It happens in our families, neighborhoods, schools, and all other aspects of society.

That said, I have also been on the receiving end of blacks playing the race card enough times to know whites are not the only people in this nation who can be racists.  It’s a two way street and the end result of our failure as a nation to move beyond race.  I believe, if he were alive today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be as disappointed in the failure of the black community to take full advantage of all he and others fought for during the civil rights era as he would be of whites for clinging to old and out dated beliefs that only serve to poison the minds of their children.

Like it or not, the statistics do not lie about the incarceration rate, death rate, drop out rate, and teen pregnancy rate of blacks.  They’re not pretty.  Is all of this the end result of a nation that enslaved black people or is it more reflective of nothing more than economic plight that comes when people fail to take advantage of new opportunities?  It’s been almost 50 years since King was murdered and yet if you look at the current status of blacks in this country, one would think the civil rights movement was something far more recent.

It can be argued that 50 years is plenty of time for any group of people to pull themselves up by the boot straps and make something of themselves.  If you look at the former Soviet block nations, many have transformed themselves from dark dreary places to countries filled with endless possibilities.  And yet, if you look even further, you will find many of these nations are also steeped in centuries old ethnic battles that have resulted in there currently being haves and have nots.  They just are not black and white.

Now there is talk that the U.S. government should pay reparations to the ancestors of slave families, with the United Nations being one of the organizations supporting this.  I believe doing this amounts to nothing more than handing out guilt money and will only add to the racial divide that plagues this nation.

I recall a conservative black radio personality from 1992 saying the U.S. government should give everything blacks need for the next 25 years and then cut them off completely.  His reasoning was it would be considered an investment and after a generation, blacks would be expected to thrive on their own which would end many government handouts.

Well, we are almost 25 years later and where are we?  We are still pointing fingers rather than solving the problem.  However, it is more clear today than in 1992 that the problem of race lies more in the home than anywhere else.  Blacks have increased their say in government and will continue to do so long after Obama leaves office.  However, in too many white homes, parents see this as a threat and whether they do so knowingly or not, they instill a mindset in whites that adds to our racial divide.

Blacks are just as guilty, maybe worse.  Why? They are just as capable as whites of instilling racial bias into their children, however, some also do worse when they label young goal oriented black students as sell outs for doing well in school.  Don’t believe me?  Go teach in a high school room where there is a variety of races and you will be shocked.

The good news is, our children today seem more open to racial diversity than ever before.  They are not as hung up on it as mom and dad or grandma and grandpa.  Still, there is one more giant hurdle to leap over so we can all get on and move beyond race, but this requires a major change in our government.

If you are like me and believe what really adds to the racial divide in this nation is money, or the lack of, then we have a serious problem to solve.  All the societal and institutional changes in the world add up to nothing as long as we continue down the economic path we are on.

We can not keep shifting jobs from America to overseas and think we will be happy as a nation of haves and have nots.  The fewer people who work, the more people become fed up with their government.  However, taxing the wealthiest to cut more checks to more people is also not a solution, it is just more guilt money.  Can we develop an economy built around American labor that does not cause businesses to go broke or pack up and leave the states?  This is the real challenge.

I am no economic expert by any means, but from where I sit, I have to believe the primary culprit to all of this is the military.  It just is not feasible to maintain such a massively large and expensive military, one that knows it has to always be involved in a conflict to warrant the money they receive from congress, while maintaining a strong economy.  As our military becomes increasingly technologically advanced, it also becomes more expensive to maintain.  It requires fewer people and the ones they need must be more adept with their brains than with their brawn.  We need fewer grunts looking to find themselves while they serve their country and more and more computer whizzes who can out smart, rather than out number the enemy.

In many ways, the terrorists have beaten us as a result of 9/11.  Since then, our economy has tanked at worst and been stagnant at best.  Citizens have willingly given up many of their civil liberties. There has been a rise of violence within our own nation to the point millions see a racist like Donald Trump as our savior.  The middle class has shrunk and hope has been replaced by a huge mistrust in our government.  In other words, many of the same problems the black community has dealt with for centuries are now on the rise among the white community.

I wish I could end this with a solution,but I have nothing simple to offer and let’s face it, most Americans, black, white, brown, green, blue, or any other color, haven’t the patience for anything else. I do know, through my studies on race, a great man once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Abe Lincoln’s words still apply today.  Our biggest enemy is ourselves and it is time we all change for the good of the nation, that is, if you want this great nation our founding fathers formed to endure.