Researchers from Harvard and Stanford universities, along with the U.S. Census Bureau, tracked 20 million children born between 1978-1983. The take-aways in The Equality of Opportunity Report are depressing. The anxiety of Black parents and guardians raising Black boys surely skyrocketed. Blood pressures probably went up.
“How am I supposed to raise my son?” asked one exasperated mother I talked to about the report. Hers is a family of two parents with abundant resources. Despite good parenting and a stable lifestyle, it doesn’t appear that it will make a damn bit of difference in the life outcomes for her Black son.
Family characteristics – parental marriage rates, education, wealth – were not big influencers for reducing the wealth gap. Eliminating single-mother households, working hard and getting a good education are not enough to overcome the soaring apex of racism. New York Times created a dramatic, interactive graph showing how fast Black boys from wealthy families fall into the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
The Opportunity Report (or No Opportunity Report) was a powerful reality check for this nation, especially for the African-American community, especially for middle-class African-American families who thought they had a leg up on the poor Black families.
The video of the two young men’s incident at the trendy franchise coffee shop quickly went viral. They were put in double-lock handcuffs (same cuffs used on murder suspects), were not read their rights and were not told why they were being arrested. Nelson and Robinson said they feared for their life, and well they should. Rarely does anything good come out of young, Black men being taken into police custody.
The young, wanna-be entrepreneurs in Starbucks were treated no different than the Pookies in the hood – handcuffed and humiliated. The common thread between the two is the color of their skin.
Racism and White supremacy have blocked the doors to the so-called American Dream. It’s past time to face the ugly truth of how high and wide racism is. We gotta go deep and dirty to get to the roots of the systems that choke the opportunity branches in the Black Tree of Life.
Protest of the racist incidents by the boys in blue or the boys in the corporate board rooms is not enough. We need coordinated, strategic actions that cut at the policies, laws, attitudes and practices that thwart the potential of black males. And the change in attitudes and practices – fear, contempt– – towards Black males needs to happen at home, in our own community.
Dante Robinson encouraged us to get past words. Accept his challenge to move to action.