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Racism In The 21st Century

Racism is no longer "the" problem. If black Americans are to ever reach total equality in America, we must realize that fighting racism can no longer be our number one priority.

150 years ago, boundless racism resulted in tens of thousands of innocent black Americans being lawfully "whipped" or "beaten" by slave owners each and every day of the year. In the year 2000, in spite of allegedly committing several felonies prior to being "punched and kicked" by police officers, Thomas Jones may well end up a millionaire as a result of his NAACP sponsored lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia.

100 years ago, black Americans were often dragged to death behind the thundering hooves of horses ridden by sheet-covered Klansmen who were considered heroes in their white communities. In the year 2000, the men who dragged John Byrd to death behind the wheels of a pickup truck in Texas were quickly punished to the full extent of the law.

50 years ago, dozens of black Americans were being shot, lynched, or mutilated by men who were not afraid to openly brag about their gruesome crimes to their friends and families. In the year 2000, the "possible" lynching of Raynard Johnson has launched investigations by the state of Mississippi and the federal government. There is little doubt that if the FBI finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Racism has always existed in America and, as long as there is ignorance and hatred, racism will continue to exist in America. While it is undeniable that past racism is the source of all the problems that afflict black America today, black Americans must look toward the future. The amount and the nature of racism that exist in the year 2000 can not prevent black America from reaching socioeconomic equality with the rest of America. On the other hand, even if all racism were completely eliminated from the hearts and minds of every American today, 95% of all black Americans would be no better off tomorrow than they were yesterday.

In the year 2000, it is not racism that is holding black Americans back. In the year 2000, black America's most debilitating problem is the lack of education and knowledge. Based on percentages of population, white Americans earn twice as many college degrees as black Americans. 83% of white Americans graduate from high school versus only 74% of black Americans. Black Americans are dead last (behind whites, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics) in reading proficiency, math proficiency, and science proficiency. In the technologically based global economy of the 21st century there is no need to discriminate against black Americans based on the color of our skin. "De facto educational discrimination" will work just as well - and it is legal. It is unfortunate that this message gets pushed further and further into the background every time a racist act results in death or injury to a black American.

Black America will never attain socioeconomic equality with white America until black Americans reach educational equivalency with white Americans. Based on this truism, "Project 2019" challenges black America to accomplish this task by the year 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of Slavery in America. Reaching educational parity is a necessary task, it is attainable, and it is one of the most positive goals ever established for black America.

Because racism has been "the" problem for more than 90% of our time in America, it is easy enough to understand why most black Americans believe that eliminating every vestige of racism is the only way that blacks will ever succeed in America. This is also the reason why most black leaders are more willing to discuss past, current, and future racism in America than they are willing to discuss concepts and challenges like Project 2019. However, as we continue our journey into the 21st century, black Americans must be made to understand that knowledge is power. Black Americans must also understand that as long as our legacy of being the least educated and least knowledgeable people in America continues, black Americans will continue to be the people with the least amount of power and, therefore, the least amount of success in America.

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