PROJECT 2019

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What Jesse Is Not Telling Black America

By definition, a popular leader tells his followers what they want to hear. And, of course, his followers support him because his message is the one that they expect to hear. Unfortunately, as a result of this symbiotic relationship, unpopular truths are often sacrificed. For black Americans, the most important of these "unpopular truths" include:

(1) The nature and the amount of racism "in 2001" are not the reasons why black Americans will have the lowest socioeconomic standing in 2009.
(2) Back America will "never" attain socioeconomic equality with white America "until" black Americans attain educational equivalency with white Americans.
(3) There is no easy or immediate fix for black America's problems.
(4) "Only" black Americans can fix black America problems.

The first unpopular truth is true only because of the caveat "in 2001." In 1619, 1899, or even 1969, the amount and the nature of racism in America were the preeminent and most immediate obstacles to success for black Americans. Nor is the statement intended as a disclaimer for the effects of past racism. Clearly, three and a half centuries of legal and institutionalized racism are the reasons why black America is where it is today. Indeed, because racism has been "the problem" for almost 95% of black America's history, it is understandable why it is difficult for black Americans to disconnect past racism from present racism and future racism.

Black Americans must understand that racism existed in 1619, racism exists in 2001, and racism will exist in 2099. Therefore, the critical element is the degree to which racism affects the lives, the liberties, and the pursuing of happiness by black Americans. Admittedly, it is difficult to quantify or qualify racism. However, it is clearly an insult to all black Americans who lived and died during the Jim Crow era for black Americans, in 2001, to blame racism for their lack of success. It is sacrilege to the millions of black Americans who lived and died in slavery for black Americans, in 2001, to say that racism is black America's biggest problem.

The second unpopular truth is that while the amount of racism has lessened over the past 380 years, there is another circumstance that has not changed for black America. In 1619, black Americans were the least educated and least knowledgeable racial group in America. In 2001, black Americans are still the least educated and least knowledgeable racial group in America. As a percentage of population, white Americans earn twice as many college degrees as black Americans. 83% of white Americans graduate from high school versus 74% of black Americans. Compared to all other ethnic and racial groups, black Americans rank last in reading, mathematics, and science proficiency.

In America, there has always been a clear and consistent relationship between the level of education attained and socioeconomic success. This has been especially true for black Americans. For most of black America's history, only knowledge and education could supercede racism. Even during the height of Jim Crow racism, black physicians, attorneys, and other professionals enjoyed a higher standard of living than the vast majority of white Americans.

If God chose to eliminate racism from the heart and mind of each and every American in 2001, in 2009 black Americans would still have the lowest socioeconomic standing in America. On the other hand, what would be the results of God leaving racism as it is but elevating the reading, math, and science proficiency of all black Americans and doubling the number of black college graduates, physicians, lawyers, engineers, and architects? Within ten years, there would be a significant improvement in the socioeconomic status of black America.

Except for direct intervention by God, there is no easy or immediate fix for black America's problems. The third unpopular truth is that 380 years of racism and oppression can not be easily reversed in five, ten, or fifteen years. And while popular black leaders may not conspire to keep this a secret, they certainly do not remind black Americans of this fact often enough. Perhaps, because to do so would be an admission that the lives of the vast majority of their constituents will never be significantly improved.

In terms of socioeconomic success, black Americans who live in 2001 are part of a lost generation. The truth is that there is little that can happen and certainly nothing that will happen that will elevate the current generation of black Americans from the lowest socioeconomic standing in America to a higher socioeconomic level. While this may seems to be a harsh reality to face, an even harsher reality is that this generation of black Americans is the 19th lost generation of black Americans. And there is a harsher reality yet. Unless black Americans starts looking forward rather than bemoaning the past and complaining about the present, the next generation will be the 20th lost generation of black Americans.

The fourth unpopular truth is that "only" black Americans can fix black America's problems and "only" black Americans will fix black America's problems. It may not be fair, it may not be right, but it is the reality of life in America in the 21st century. Black America is doomed until it accepts the fact that there is little or nothing that white America can and, most importantly, will do to fix the problems that it began creating in 1619.

Fortunately, in 2001, there is something that black Americans can do to save black America. Black Americans must accept that "knowledge is power." Black Americans must resolve to reach educational equivalency by the year 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of Slavery in America. And, finally, black America must set about reaching educational equality, by any means necessary. We owe no less to our parents, our grandparents, and all past generations of black Americans. We owe no less to our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations of black Americans.


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