When was America ever great for Blacks?
The question begs some serious review of our history in America in light of the political view and slogan of the current president and the Republican-controlled Congress. The presumption of “making America great again” is that there was a period of greatness followed by a subsequent fall from grace. This narrative of this “cult-like” following have the majority of Blacks in America asking, “where were we during this time of greatness?” Let’s see if we can pinpoint the exact time of greatness:
Slavery- 1501-1865 (United States Independence 1776).
Reconstruction- 1865-1877 (which included the “Black Codes”)
Jim Crow- 1877-1965
Civil Rights Movement- 1954-1968
After the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, Africans in America began to make strides in the political arena. Though the 70’s- produced historical “firsts” in America, Blacks continued to suffer disproportionately in unemployment, incarceration, and in education. Arguably, the most significant achievement in African American History was the presidency of Barack Obama.
Now, America has elected a president whose political view is “make America great again.” So, we in the Black community again ask the much-deflected question “when was America ever great?”
How should we take the view of making her great again? Are we to assume that we are not included in this view? Is it the assumption that America was great for Blacks for eight years and not for the rest of “America?”
A typical “trolling” response from those in the white community when Blacks expose and explain conditions that are discriminatory and oppressive is to “stop bringing race into the conversation.” The new response to remain politically correct is “it’s not about race. Why do you always bring up race?” Well. . . when it appears that America’s so-called “greatness” occurred at a time of Black Americans’ greatest suffering, the idea of bringing it back is insulting. To not bring it up is to ignore the fear, anxiety, and anger that this type of oppressive thinking brings about.
Photo by: Blair Ryan
The Black Lives Matter movement is an attempt to include ourselves as part of the beneficiaries of a thriving country. One that includes us in economic, political, judicial, and social equity. The movement’s purpose is to highlight and protest those injustices that oppress and reduce the quality of life of African Americans (including police brutality). There are some who intend to promote inclusiveness by professing “All Lives Matter.” While we welcome that assertion of inclusiveness, to be consistent, the political view and slogan “Make America Great for All” should be adopted into the essence of American systems.
Until the systems’ changes are realized and “oppressive” America changes its beliefs and behaviors, “MAGA” and “ALM” slogans are simply hyperbole.