To date, much of my time and effort has been used to seek-out and evaluate groups, organizations and individuals that I believe might be part of the ‘need’ to clearly identify and determine how best to address the subject of ‘Economic disparities’ and Economic inequalities’. As you might have noticed, I used the plural terms for both of the stated factors for why Black and other People of Color are not receiving an equal or ‘proportional’ ‘Piece of the American Pie of Economic opportunities’ that we see on the ‘Plates of White America. Now some folks tend to become defensive or get upset and angry when the subject of ‘Equal Access to Opportunities’ or Economic Disparities is brought forth in discussing the subject of wealth, income and whether or not those who seem ‘well off’ are there simply by their own initiative, their own ‘self-made’ efforts to achieve preset goals. And, within this picture of ‘success’ is also the question of whether those who seem not to be able to ‘get ahead’ and to easily be able to support and financially take care of their Families and fiances are in this situation simply because they fail to ‘work hard enough’, to work ‘smart enough’, or that they just simply lack the necessary incentive and/or the Smarts to be able to rise to the same level of achievement as their White counterparts. To me, the last question is called the ‘Write Off’, where you simply stop worrying about whether you and/or the group of people that you ‘belong too’ (White Americans) bear ANY responsibility for the diminished conditions or status of your ‘Non-White’ Brothers and Sisters? Here’s how I would imagine a conversation with one’s own self would look who took on the ‘burden of guilt’ in response to what I just stated: “Whoa! Wow! Now that’s kind of harsh statement, don’t you think? And we’ve always treated everybody the same way, like color-blind. I mean, after-all, neither Me or any members of My ‘immediate family’ ever owned slaves. They just need to worker harder! Pull them-selves up by their Bootstraps! And,.. Look, I mean each summer I had to work darn hard in My Uncle’s hardware business’ – even managed to get my buddy a job there too- in order to be able to help save up the money to attend college! (choose one – Stanford, or Harvard or Rutgers, or USC, or another elite school – that we all know that a ‘regular’ summer job, alone, would not be able to pay enough for the school’s tuition – for most of the students that get accepted and enrolled there. But the person depicted is either unable or unwilling to see the various ‘helping hands’ provided by his ‘life’s circumstances’- and skin color, that played a big part in his being able to achieve his ‘set goals’.
Now, while I will (for the time being) leave the last sentence where it ends and ask that you might, perhaps, think about the connections in that sentence as ‘gateways to opportunities’. I will then return to the undisputed facts that the picture of un-equal opportunities – and un-equal access to same, by some people, based primarily on the color of their skin, has been a part of America’s ‘historical portrait’ for a very long time – even since its colonial existence. And even though this situation begins with the ‘mis’treatment of this country’s indigenous people – that were already living here in this ‘found’ or ‘discovered’ occupied land, slavery only served to fuel the fires of the system of racism and human exploitation. Before these two events there was the ‘rich people’ ‘poor people’ scenario, as there has always been some who have fared better than others – and have done so based on the ‘merits’ of their knowledge, skills, abilities – and the brains they were born with. And, Yes, I know, that contrary to the old saying, and existing belief by some, that ‘all men (and women) are created equally’ that if that was truly the case then we would not need to place such emphasis on IQ and Aptitude testing in this country’ trying to find the ‘differences’ in human beings. Correct? And even those system have been shown to have biases. But what has created a ‘world of difference’ in this ‘equation of life’ – for some, especially here in USA, is the intentionally and systemic addition of the factors of Race and Color into the ‘equation for success!’ For example, if you are of one color or race, then the doors that provide you the access to those means of achieving your dream or dreams, are opened wide, with a big ‘WELCOME’ sign placed there, especially for you. Additionally, in many cases the helping hands of ‘encouragement and support’ are there, at the ‘doorway’, held out to greet you, make you feel at home, and to help guide, direct and keep you on the ‘right path’ for success. However, if, perchance you should ‘happen’ to show-up at this ‘gateway’ to success, and you have not been ‘endowed’ (born) with the ‘right’ skin color or ethnicity, you will first, and foremost, find it very difficult to even learn where the ‘door’ is located. And, even if you do find this ‘door’, and go up to it and knock or ring the bell, you might find that, just coincidentally, those on the other side that you thought were there to help you, have just ‘stepped out to lunch’, and, Surprise!! no one else there, seems to know when (or if) they will return – or if they do return, they might not be able to assist YOUR efforts!! So my question is that when taking these two scenarios, and looking at the two ‘applicants’ who came there for the same purposes – to get help on the roadway of a life and a better future – which one is apt to be more successful in life, overall? Now, if you are the ‘one’ individual or person (right!) who is unable to figure out the most correct answer to the question, then you will also probably be that person who will become defensive, upset, angry and respond in much the negative and hostile manner as the person that I referred to earlier. So, included with my efforts to locate and interact even with those people – is also the effort to join in with individuals and groups – of all races and colors – who share the belief that ‘Yes’, there is a problem that we need to address collectively. My pledge is to also work with those persons, – of all colors – who have made a commitment to make use of their time, talents, energy, and efforts in staying focused on how best to address and resolve this matter of racial inequalities and inequities, for the benefit of all, and especially for the continued existence of this country we all call Home.
In summary, I would welcome those who would like to participate in this challenging but achieving job of working on solutions, plans and ideas that will lessen the exclusion of Blacks and other POC from available opportunities, and, to which they have as much ‘right of access’ as any other groups or peoples living in this country.
Please contact me if you are interested in working with the Economic Awareness Committee and/or if you have suggestions or comments that you would like to make regarding subject matter, focus, etc.
The Economics Awareness Committee is engaged with the following partner organizations:
- Alaska Coalition for Justice
- Alaska For Fair Re-Districting (AFFR)
- Community Accountability
- ACLU Policy Workgroup
- Revenues Coalition Committee