What Do Black People Really Have To Lose?

August 24, 2016 2 By Michael
Donald J. Trump has made a pitch for the vote and turned the Black community upside down. Photo Credits: NBC News

Donald J. Trump has made a pitch for the African American vote and turned the Black community upside down.
Photo Credits: NBC News

What do Black people really have to lose?

This may very well go down in history as the most profound question of the 2016 presidential election cycle, at least as relates to the nation’s darker citizens.

This seemingly simple question has stirred the anger of yet another non-white group, primarily the Black professional class. Black professionals have taken Republican nominee Donald Trump to task for asking the African American community for an opportunity to prove that he could solve many of the economic and crime problems that plague their community.

Rather than ponder the question, the Black professional class has responded with anger over the sheer suggestion, that perhaps their 56 years of loyalty to the Democratic Party is a present day stumbling block to liberation from inequality and discrimination.

While I am not a supporter of Donald Trump, neither am I a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I do believe that he posits a valid question. One which Black Americans need to answer, if not this election cycle, then certainly by 2020.

Many in this Black professional class believe that their cars, clothes, jobs and relationships have delivered them into the land promised by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the night before he was prematurely taken from us.

These material possessions were first obtained by the first wave of “Baby Boomers” to reach adulthood in the early 1970s, through the political largess of Richard Nixon’s Affirmative Action Program. When Ronald Reagan sought to turn back the hands of time on Affirmative Action, Democratic appointees to the federal courts stood, metaphorically speaking, in the courthouse door, to block a dismantling of Affirmative Action programs in education and employment.

Sometime during the tenure of Bill Clinton, the tide began to turn on Affirmative Action and with the George H. Bush presidency, schools and businesses no longer felt compelled to take affirmative steps to insure that they had a diverse student body or workforce that resembled the American population.

Suddenly it became taboo to advocate for Black causes in education, employment and voting rights. When white politicians came to the Black community, they came seeking permission to do something bad to the community, like the enactment of “Three Strikes and you’re out legislation.”

“We’ll help you solve your crime problem, if you will support this punitive legislation that is going to drastically effect your community; and by the way, we actually caused the crime problem in your neighborhood by flooding it with drugs, but don’t worry, we will get tough on crime and clean-up your neighborhoods. Trust me,” the Democratic and Republican politicians said.

But the “Black Poor,” the people for whom Dr. King was advocating when he was assassinated, never made it to the Affirmative Action level. They continue to this very day to languish in poverty, in crime ridden communities, and with higher rates of unemployment than any other segment of the American population, this includes non-white immigrants who were welcomed to the U. S. from Vietnam, and other  lands where American  foreign policy has disrupted the organized system of governance.

The “Black Poor” have made very little advancement in the past 56 years. In 1960, Black voters began casting a large bloc of votes to the Democratic nominee in General Elections in response to the concern shown by Robert Kennedy to the arrest of Dr. King in Decatur, Georgia.

To be sure, we have elected more Blacks to public office than at any time in American history, including a U. S. President. We have even had a few Black men and women to head fortune 500 companies. But these are perhaps, the sum total of Black advancement in American society since 1863. There are literally hundreds of thousands of Black people who need to be delivered from poverty, public schools that do not educate, and jobs that do not pay a liveable wage; to be provided medical care that is affordable, and neighborhoods that are clean and safe from crime.

While Black professionals are right to point out their accomplishments, their anger towards Trump, pours cold water on the aspiration of poor Black people to climb out of poverty and crime ridden neighborhoods. For one thing, it shuts down any discussion on ways to improve the conditions of Black people who are not members of the professional class. Moreover, to ignore this class of poor Black people is the height of arrogance, insensitivity  and pompousness.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.