Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Est. April 5, 2002
July 26, 2018 - Issue 752

Bookmark and Share

What Black America has to Lose

"As long as people like Donald Trump occupy the White House
and his fellow Republicans control both houses of Congress,
there is likely to be no effort to wipe out poverty and inequality,
let alone create an atmosphere of tolerance and kindness.  It
will be left to others to create that atmosphere; civil society
and, possibly, the Democratic Party, although it seems
to have lost its way in that regard."

As a candidate for president, Donald Trump, looking for support in Black America, sought their votes and asked rhetorically, “What have you got to lose?”

The ignorance displayed by such a stupid question is something that most Americans have come to realize sums up the president in at least one aspect of his persona: He's ignorant beyond any understanding for someone who has been elected “leader of the free world.” There is no dearth of other shortcomings of the occupant of the Oval Office, but ignorance and lack of interest in anything or anyone but himself are the foundations of his character (if we can use that word in his case).

Rather than go into a litany of the president's shortcomings and character flaws, it is enough to just take a few examples. The one that leaps to mind is his relentless attack on black professional football players who have “taken a knee” to protest the treatment of black Americans by police, including the endless killings of (especially) black men and boys with impunity. It's open season on this portion of society and there is no use in looking to the courts for relief, considering who he has nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If he was able to learn anything from his first surge of attacks on black players, it did not show, because just in the past several days, one team owner said that none of his players would be disciplined for taking a knee. And that brought on another wave of vilification from Trump, who showed no interest in the cause of the protests by the players. Look for more of the same from this president and his horde of white supremacists, who would pledge their fealty to their white knight, no matter what crime he might commit.

Black officials and other black members of civil society who supported Trump, and still support him, need to be grilled about what they expect from their man-child champion in the way of any benefit to the black communities that have been left behind in cities across the country. They have been ill-housed, ill-fed, ill-educated, and left without the jobs that would allow them to raise their own standard of living. Not a word from this president about any of it. In fact, he has doubled down on those who do not look like him, whether they are black, brown, red, yellow, or any other color or ethnic variety. He does, indeed, want to “make America great again,” but it appears that he would like to see it brought back to 1854 or so, when people who look like him were in charge of all of “the other.”

With all of the three parts of the federal government in the hands of those who hold powerless people in contempt, there is no longer the hope that there will be a rising up of those who would declare a “war on poverty,” as had been done in the past. If there is a war to be declared, it should be a war on poverty, one that has not been seen since the days of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his broad-based attack on the root causes of poverty. It didn't go far enough, but the very idea that the war should be waged was enough to cause apoplexy among the denizens of the right, most of whom set their sights on eliminating any program that smacked of help for the poor and marginalized. They succeeded.

The result of their success in damaging or destroying any effort to balance the economic and social scale is that there are few to speak for the majority. From the White House, to the Congress, to the judiciary, there is little concern for the plunder of the nation's resources and wealth by the very few, and all of it is manifest in the person of Trump, whose main concern is himself. This is not what free and equal mean and it's not what the U.S. purports to be. There are great pockets of the nation that fit the description of a Third World country.

As long as people like Donald Trump occupy the White House and his fellow Republicans control both houses of Congress, there is likely to be no effort to wipe out poverty and inequality, let alone create an atmosphere of tolerance and kindness. It will be left to others to create that atmosphere; civil society and, possibly, the Democratic Party, although it seems to have lost its way in that regard.

The July/August 2018 issue of The Atlantic magazine, an article titled, “Being Black in America Can Be Hazardous to Your Health,” follows a 28-year-old woman who lives in the Sandtown section of Baltimore and the profound problems of growing up in an environment of violence and poverty, despite sometime family support and solidarity. It could be any of many cities in the U.S., but “...In Baltimore, a 20-year gap in life expectancy exists between the city’s poor, largely African American neighborhoods and its wealthier, whiter areas. A baby born in Cheswolde, in Baltimore’s far-northwest corner, can expect to live until age 87. Nine miles away in Clifton-Berea, near where The Wire was filmed, the life expectancy is 67, roughly the same as that of Rwanda, and 12 years shorter than the American average. Similar disparities exist in other segregated cities, such as Philadelphia and Chicago...”

These are statistics and descriptions of conditions that exist across the nation, but politicians, those who are in a position to take action against these ills, are not doing so and do not seem to be inclined to do so. There is some element of neglect in that attitude, but there is also an element of fear that, to propose a broad-based program to tackle these ills would bring the right-wing powerhouses down on their heads and, with that, goes the money in the billions to fight any such program. And, there is a great element of racism, much of it structural. Trump has declared that the migrants who are at the U.S. southern frontier are “infesting” the nation. With him, there does not seem to be much hope for leadership in combating racism, xenophobia and hate.

Much of the problem of poverty rests in the economic structure of America. There has not been such disparity in wealth and income since about a century ago. It's intentional. That gross disparity must be eliminated. Those who are doing “okay” in the middle class are doing so because they invested in home ownership. Or, their parents invested in home ownership. Black Americans were routinely denied this route to home ownership and, therefore, to the wealth that was available to white Americans.

Again, the Atlantic writer: “...For much of the 20th century, the Federal Housing Administration declined to insure mortgages for blacks, who instead had to buy homes by signing contracts with speculators who demanded payments that, in many cases, amounted to most of the buyer’s income. (As a result, many black families never reaped the gains of homeownership—a key source of Americans’ wealth.) Housing discrimination persisted well beyond the Jim Crow years, as neighborhood associations rejected proposals to build low-income housing in affluent suburbs. In the 1990s, house flippers would buy up homes in Baltimore’s predominantly black neighborhoods and resell them to unsuspecting first-time home buyers at inflated prices by using falsified documents. The subsequent foreclosures are a major reason so many properties in the city sit vacant today. ..”

The real estate mogul who sits in the Oval Office might approve of such methods, since much of the wealth of the nation is shifted around among the top 1 percent as real estate deals. Trump is accustomed to such deals and believes that's the way the world works. It is the way in which he has become quite wealthy, even though it is not known how rich he is, since he has refused to make public his tax returns, which presidents routinely have done for many years. He works in secret and is contemptuous of working people, minorities, women, and the disabled. Don't look to him for help. Don't look to the Republican Party for help.

What to do? Those of you who are Democrats need to begin telling the party to first, find a spine, then find a cross-section from around the country to come up with a comprehensive program to address poverty and to gird themselves for the fight of their lives against the forces of oppression, to put the program onto the floor of both houses of Congress (and, by the way, in the state capitals, as well) in such a way that the true character of the oligarchs is on display. In the course of debate, even the supporters of Trump (with the possible exception of his white supremacist supporters) might be moved to sign on to the program.

It definitely a tall order, but it must be undertaken. There are scores, if not hundreds, of groups, large and small, around the country who are doing excellent work in trying to overcome centuries of racism and inequality, but they need to pool their energies and expertise into one movement. Since the Democratic Party is there, it could be the unifying body, if the old leadership would open up the process and welcome their replacements in the next generation. It could happen with a loud enough, and unified, demand. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

Bookmark and Share




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1
Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers