Issue 13

Only Black America Can
Save Black America

“Only black America can save black America.”

Most black Americans – as well as white Americans and Asian-Americans – readily agree with this statement. The reason why many agree is because they do not fully comprehend the meaning of the statement or do not understand the reason why the statement is true. In any case, it is crucial that black Americans understand both the meaning and the rationale.

For black Americans, “only black America can save black America” is more than a catchy phrase. It is a statement that black America must not only accept – but embrace as an irrefutable fact. And unless and until black America does so, black America can not and will not be saved.

What Black America Need To Be Saved From
Before discussing who can save black America and why, it should be clearly stated what it is that black America needs to be “saved” from. Black America needs to be saved from another one hundred or two hundred years of being the least socially and economically successful people in America.

During two and half centuries of Slavery, black Americans were an underclass in America. During the one hundred-year Jim Crow era that followed Slavery, black Americans were an underclass in America. And during the first half-century of the Equal Opportunity era, black Americans have been an underclass in America. During their entire four hundred-year history, black Americans have been the least socially and least economically successful people in America.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing that can be done and nothing that will happen to prevent black Americans from being the least socially and economically successful people in America for no less than the next ten, twenty, or thirty years. And while it is entirely possible for black Americans to evolve out of their underclass status over the next century or two, there is no guarantee that it will happen in the twenty-first century or that it will ever happen. If black America is not saved, black Americans are in peril of being an underclass in America for the next four hundred years or, indeed, in perpetuity.

What “Only Black America…” Does Not Mean
In order to understand the meaning of the statement, “only black America can save black America,” it is helpful to understand what the statement does not mean. It does not mean that the rest of America can not participate in the saving of black America. That would be unrealistic. Black Americans control less than two percent of the wealth of this country. On the national, state, and almost every local level, white politicians run America. And at least eighty percent of all the schoolteachers in America are white. The point is that, like it or not, the rest of America must be involved in the saving of black America. The only issues are the nature and the extent of that involvement.

The most important role that the rest of America can play in the saving of black America is the opposite of the role that America has played during the first four centuries of black America’s history. The reason why black America needs to be saved is because America broke it and white America was relentless in doing all that could be done to prevent black America from being repaired. And while the spirit of the Equal Opportunity era suggests that this is no longer the case, because of black America’s minimal progress during this era, the veracity of that spirit has yet to be truly tested.

What “Only Black America…” Does Mean
What “only black America can save black America” does mean is that black Americans are ultimately – and unequivocally – responsible for saving themselves. It means that if black America is saved, it will be as a result of black Americans doing what had to be done to save black America. And if black America is not saved, it will be because black Americans did not do what had to be done to save black America.

The Reasons Why “Only Black America…”
There are numerous reasons and rationales why only black America can save black America. The foremost reason is that, ultimately, only black Americans “really care” if black America is saved. This assertion may seem a bit harsh and, perhaps, it is. Even so, it is not meant to suggest that white Americans and Asian-Americans are hardened racists who have absolutely no sympathy for the plight of millions of black Americans. Nor is this assertion meant in any way to insult or disparage the many Americans who fought and died in the struggle for freedom and for civil rights for black Americans.

If there is disagreement with the assertion that only black Americans “really care” if black America is saved, it should at least be agreed that black Americans “care the most.” Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, as well as on the most basic levels, black Americans have the most vested interests in black America being saved.

There are many people around the world, and even some people in America, who sincerely believe that America is a vile, evil nation that represents all that is wrong with the world. At the same time, there are millions of people who will give up all that they have and even risk their lives to become American citizens. Americans are alternately described as being noble, generous, and compassionate and as being contemptible, greedy, and hardhearted. But, whatever else Americans are, they are human.

Being human, Americans are governed or, at a minimum, guided by instincts. It is this instinctual behavior that has led humans to populate every corner of this world and to look to the stars for other challenges. Of all human instincts, the instinct for survival is by far the strongest. And for any given human, self-preservation is at the top of the list. When it is not, it is usually because one’s instinct for self-preservation is superceded by a need to protect the lives of one’s immediate family and loved ones. Humans will kill or be killed in order to protect the lives of their children.

Although it may not be as strong, this instinctual behavior extends beyond loved ones and close family members to distant family members and even casual friends. Beyond a certain point, this instinctual behavior becomes humanitarianism, that is, a general concern for the welfare of all human beings. And it is the path that one’s humanity takes that can explain the basic nature of a person, including whether he or she is a racist.

Are You A Racist?
It is certainly easy enough to love any number of people and to care about people in general. And there are millions of true humanitarians who are dedicated to helping improve the welfare of fellow human beings. However, it is not possible in all cases to love, to care about, or to provide aid in equal measures. The following scenario is intended to make this point.

You are a passenger on a cruise ship that has been severely damaged and will sink in less than an hour. It will be several hours before any help arrives. The other problem is that there are not enough lifeboats to accommodate all the passengers. Fortunately, all the women, the children, and the elderly have been assigned lifeboats and are departing the sinking ship. The only passengers who remain are men who range in age from their late twenties to their early thirties.

These men reject the idea of “drawing straws” to determine who will be assigned seats in the remaining lifeboats and they agree to another approach. Each man is to make an ordered list of the passengers who will be assigned seats until all the remaining lifeboats are filled. After all the lists are compiled, one of the lists will then be randomly selected. The author of the list that will be selected will not be known.

It would be expected that each passenger would put his name and the names of any remaining family members at the top of his list. Next on the list would likely be long-time friends. Perhaps next on the list would be new friends and even acquaintances, individuals that one had met on the cruise and bonded with on some level. But, after having exhausted the relatively easy choices, whom would you then add to your list?

To help with this decision, each man is given a passenger manifest that includes some biographical information for each passenger. Using this information, are the next passengers that you add to your list Baptists because you are a Baptist? Do you then add other Christians before even considering adding Moslems? Do you add all those who share your nationality or culture before considering nationalities or cultures with which you are not familiar? Do you select all of the Democrats or all of the Republicans, all of the liberals or all of the conservatives?

In a color-blind world, race would not be the primary criterion used in anyone’s selection process. And, in fact, if a white Baptist who is a Democrat skips over a black man who is also Baptist and a Democrat – selecting instead a white Republican who is Catholic – the man could easily be accused of racism. But, what if the reverse were true? What if a black Baptist who is a Democrat skips over a white Baptist who is also a Democrat, selecting instead a black Republican who is Catholic?

What if all the white men ended up at the bottom of someone’s list? If all the black men ended up at the bottom of anyone’s list, most people would be convinced that racism was the reason. On the other hand, would all the men whose lists were not chosen, not hope that someone who shared their race compiled the list that was chosen?

Again, the point is that, it is human nature for people to care more about those close to them than to care about those who are not. This is the case whether stepping in front of a bullet to protect one’s child, being asked to donate a kidney to a sibling, or hiring a cousin or a friend to work for one’s small business. This is also the case when it comes to saving black America. The rest of America may be willing to help save black America, but only after they have saved themselves, their families and loved ones, their friends, those who are share their faith, and, in most cases, after they have saved their own ethnic group.

Only Black America “Will” Save Black America
If black Americans do not save black America then black America will never be saved. First and foremost, black Americans have the most vested interests in saving black America. Additionally, all the crucial elements necessary to save black America must come from black America. Only black Americans can do the extensive, arduous work that is necessary to save black America. Only black Americans can make the sacrifices that are necessary to save black America. And only black Americans will ever have a compelling desire to save black America.

If nothing else, four centuries of history should have taught black Americans one of two lessons. Either the rest of America is incapable of saving black America – or the rest of America is unwilling to save black America. In either case, the bottom line is and will forever be that “only black America can save black America.” And when black America is ultimately saved, it will have been saved by black America.