New decade begins with clear Black agenda (part 2)

2019 Congressional hearing showing Black homeownership groups agreeing that there are major issues with racial disparities.

Trump was elected to office amidst an already volatile racial atmosphere in which the loose knit organization, Black Lives Matter, and others had emboldened the movement against police brutality and killings of Blacks, starting with the hash tag #BlackLivesMatter following the Feb. 26, 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla.

Despite protests, the killings have remained consistent. According to a scientific report contained in the August 20, 2019 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, police violence is now a “leading cause of death among young Black men.”

Over the past decade, several high profiled cases of Black people killed by police have become household names. They include Philando Castile, 32, shot seven times in  Falcon Heights, Minnesota after telling Officer Jeronimo Yanez that he had a legal fire arm and assured him he was not reaching for it; Walter Scott, 50, shot in the back while running away from North Charleston, S. C., police Officer Michael Slager; Mike Brown, 18, shot dead in Ferguson, Mo. after confronted by police Officer Darren Wilson while simply walking down the street in his neighborhood; Eric Garner, 43, choked to death while pleading, “I can’t breathe,” after confronted by Staten Island, N.Y. police officers while standing on the street; Tamir Rice, 12, immediately shot by Cleveland, Ohio Officer Timothy Loehmann as Rice wielded a play gun; and Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, 25, who was arrested as he left a coffee shop and died of a spinal cord injury sustained while in police custody.

These cases, among others, resulted in national protests as well as fiery riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. In Ferguson, the debut of police using military equipment shocked the world.

Yet, the most recent outrageous attacks by police have taken another turn. In recent incidents, police have attacked Black people in their own homes. Botham Jean, 26, was killed while sitting in his Dallas apartment as off-duty officer Amber Guyger burst in and shot him, later claiming she thought it was her apartment. Then 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew, was shot dead through the window of her Fort Worth home by Officer Aaron Dean who subsequently resigned and is now charged with murder.

On this issue, the statistics speak for themselves:

  • In February, 2019, there were only 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the United States, whereas the U.S. Black population is estimated to be more than 40 million, according to the U. S. Black Chamber Inc.
  • The median wealth of White households is 20 times that of Black households.
  • The rate of Black homeownership in America was at 41.1%, according to 2019 census numbers—even lower than it was when the Fair Housing Act was signed into law 51 years ago on April 11, 1968. The White homeownership rate hovered at approximately 73%, according to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. This issue prompted the founding of Black Wealth 2020 five years ago, a coalition of organizations established as a catalyst for Black economic justice.
  • Regardless of how high or low the national employment rate fluctuated over the past two decades, without fail, Black employment remained only half that of Whites.
  • Gentrification, called the new ‘Negro removal’ program, by Ron Daniels of the Institute of the Black World – 21st Century, continues to displace Black people and culture in record numbers in cities across the nation. The gentrification issue prompted an ‘emergency summit’ by IBW last spring and promises to remain the focus of civil rights leaders.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Education, Black children comprise 15% of students in public schools across the U. S. Yet, they accounted for 31% of the students either referred to law enforcement or arrested, according to the most recent US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection published bi- report annually.

Likewise, standardized test scores at majority Black public schools remain low, compared to majority White schools. But that has little to do with academic ability and much to do with wealth gaps reports

The racial ‘achievement gap’ in standardized-test scores shouldn’t be considered a racial gap at all, according to a study by the Center for Education Policy Analysis, which argues that the achievement gap should be called a ‘poverty gap.’

“U.S. public schools are highly segregated by both race and class,” says the report, released in the fall of 2019. “We use eight years of data from all public school districts in the U.S. We find that racial school segregation is strongly associated with the magnitude of achievement gaps in third grade, and with the rate at which gaps grow from third to eighth grade. The association of racial segregation with achievement gaps is completely accounted for by racial differences in school poverty: racial segregation appears to be harmful because it concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools, which are, on average, less effective than lower-poverty schools.”

Given the weight of these issues and others that have lingered from one decade to another, there is no doubt they will continue to fuel the civil rights agenda for years to come.