GTY_MLK_march_on_washington_1963_lpl_130801_16x9_608

It’s been 50 years since civil rights leaders gathered for the March On Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech. Since then, rampant racism has receded (at least until recently), Black folks have made great strides in every facet of life, and for the first time ever there is a Black family in the White House.

Despite our immense progress, African Americans continue to face great odds. Disparities in income, education, health outcomes, and crime continue to plague Black communities, and many are wondering if we have really achieved Dr. King’s infamous dream of racial equality.

While leaders reconvene on the Washington Mall to mark the occasion, it’s important that we continue to brainstorm ideas and implement solutions that will move us closer to equality.

Though many argue we should “confront racism,” writer and cultural critic John McWhorter says Black folks should have a three-pronged plan of attack.

He writes:

Today’s struggle should focus on three priorities. First, the war on drugs, a policy that unnecessarily tears apart black families and neighborhoods. Second, community colleges and vocational education, which are invaluable in helping black Americans get ahead. And third, the AIDS and obesity epidemics, which are ravaging black communities.

The only reason why ideas like “institutional racism” and “a conversation about race” seem more compelling is because they are more morally dramatic. Drama is not what will make a difference in black lives.

As we look to the future, let’s discuss what still needs to be done and how can we work to achieve it.

Share your thoughts, Clutchettes, what should Black folks fight for today?

  • Eva

    I agree with all except number 3. I would place financial empowerment and understanding of money above that. How can a community prosper if they don’t understand the very thing that guides many of the decisions that ultimately affect them?

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    Entrepreneurship in their own communities.

    In New York City African Americans are the buyers but never the sellers. Everyone makes money off of the black dollar: Africans (Hair Braiders, Taxi Cabs, Beauty Supply, Incense, Black Soap, Oils), Dominicans (Taxi Cabs, Hair Salons), The Chinese (Beauty Supply, Nail Salon), The Indians (Eyebrows, Lashes), Jewelry (Middle Eastern, Jews), Charter Schools (Jews & WASPS).

    And now the Corporations have taken over 125th Street.

    Not one black person owns one business in Harlem and because of this African Americans are disempowered, disrespected and ignored. Even the West Africans who live in Harlem disassociate themselves with blacks unless its about them getting your money.

    I went to the March on Saturday; it was nostalgic but a blip on the radar when it comes to Civil Rights and the Legacy of Dr. King.

    Right now…he that owns the gold makes the rules and while some of us may be prospering individually most of us are LOST and shut out of economic development.

  • Treece

    “Today’s struggle should focus on three priorities. First, the war on drugs, a policy that unnecessarily tears apart black families and neighborhoods. Second, community colleges and vocational education, which are invaluable in helping black Americans get ahead. And third, the AIDS and obesity epidemics, which are ravaging black communities.”

    Most of these (except the war on drugs) are a reflection of poverty and poor education in Black communities. Those are the two issues that most all other pressing concerns in our community stem from. In my opinion, equal education is most important, and fighting for better care/provisions for the poor. Prime example: recently in DC area, a multi-million dollar facility was built to care for sick and injured wild animals. I love animals. However, I love people more. DC facilities for the homeless are HORRIBLE. Why couldn’t the money they used to build a facility for wild animals who are sick or injured (mind you, in nature a sick or injured animal just dies or gets eaten by a larger one; circle of life…) have gone to building a better equipped homeless shelter (or shelters) with better paid staff and security guards. Security is one of the main concerns of homeless ppl. They’re afraid sometimes to go into the shelter for fear of being assaulted or robbed of what little they have. Why couldn’t that money have gone to the rennovation of public housing or improving impoverished schools? Why is it that in DC a kid from one area doesn’t even have access to computers in his/her classroom and is expected to learn in a rundown and unsanitary classroom with teachers with less expertise; yet about 30 minutes away in No. VA, kids have access to high tech, clean, efficiently run classrooms with excellent teachers and curricula developed from the latest research in education? How does that happen in America? Racism, that’s how it happens. And most of what ails the Black community stems from poor education and provisions for poor people.

    Also, poor Blacks face a “generational curse” of self-fullfilling prophecies (“that’s what they think I am so I guess that is what I am”) and depression that shows itself in many ways. Obesity, violence, abuse, drug abuse, can all be blamed on this. It gets passed down. And IMO, I think that one of the best ways to break the “curse” is to let Black kids know that the community cares about them, and to give them a top notch education that’s the same as the white kids over the bridge. That’s my two cents #stepsoffsoapbox

  • noirluv45

    Unity and economic power = freedom. Let’s get a vision and do it, Black folks! We have too much spending power to not be spending it on building our own businesses, corporations, which equates employment.

  • RaiseTheBar

    Clutch,

    I’m so thankful you asked that question.

    First, we NEED to get back to basics, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic and build from the ground up. RESPECT and VALUE Education whether formal or not. The World Wide Web brings the world to me, YOU and everyone.

    If YOU “choose” to give birth to a child, then you are choosing “Parenthood”. Have a “gameplan” in place BEFORE bringing an innocent child into this world — DO your HOMEWORK so that if mom/dad cannot/will not step up to the challenges of parenthood, you have your village in place to step in with the raising of the child(ren). If the public school system (Government) is not providing a quality education for YOUR child, then Do It Yourselves if unable to find or afford a quality substitute.

    Second, MASTER your Finances. Translation: NO emulating the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on working class salaries.

    WE have so much going for us in the black communities but because we don’t believe in our Personal Powers, we regress to a SLAVE mentally of hoping, expecting, fighting for Massa to Save US. I’ve listened to US, so I KNOW we are so competent and capable of SAVING OURSELVES; but first, WE have to stop chasing feel good in the moment.

  • BeanBean

    He’s right. Institutional racism is more dramatic! Blacks need economic freedom, but for that to happen blacks would have to lose this inferiority complex some of us have developed. Asians don’t use bank loans, they get money from each other. Blacks need to do the same, start depending on each other, hiring each other. In the perfect world, blacks would act the same way we did during segregation, but without the segregation. We used to have our own grocery stores, clubs, tutoring groups, now we have nothing, it’s sad!

  • http://trueletterson.wordpress.com trueletterson

    Black folk to day must fight to build and maintain a strong black male and black female relationship/marriage which in turn will build and strengthen the black family and providing love, guidance and security for our black children and black women which will build a strong black community that in it self will take care of eighty percent of our problem!

  • Annoyed

    That is exactly the problem. Other cultures sell to a diverse market. Black people have the very unfortunate idea we can only sell to ourselves. Asian business in my Latino community have signs in the window “Se Habla Espanol.” I watch the Vietnamese doughnut shop clerk greet her Spanish speaking customers in Spanish. The world is bigger than black American descendants of slaves. We think very small. Ready for the thumbs down. The truth hurts. :-)

  • Kayla

    LOVING OURSELVES!

  • Stef

    I often get in trouble for this comment but MLK dream is not mine. Don’t misunderstand me I honor and respect the man and the fight for equality.

    But my dream has always been more malcolm x and Elijah Muhammad meaning I have a dream of black self reliance , of black economic empowerment, of us learning to stop waiting for others to understand our story our history , of us learning to stop waiting for others for assistance , of us learning to love ourselves and all the people of the African diaspora .

    I would love to reach that mountain top with white people but only as equal partners

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    No disrespect but for clarity purposes I clearly stated that African Americans are buyers in their own communities where other cultures are selling to them. This in turn affects African American empowerment in a negative and devaluing way. If African Americans were sellers in Asian, Domincan, Jewish, and West African communities then there would be no need for me to highlight the severe imbalance.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    So very true and once we realize that, the more empowered we’ll be. You can’t make people love you or accept you who have no desire to and people are wasting their lifetimes trying to do so.

    Our future’s prosperity lies within the African Diaspora and Africa and we have to reconnect with them and create opportunities with them because much of our African Diaspora family is in the same boat when it comes to hope, well-being, equality and advancement.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    It would be so easy if people would pay very close attention to the actions of others. No one would have to ask questions because they’d understand exactly how people truly feel about other human beings.

    If we as a people truly loved our children and each other we’d show it more. If your community cared about the homeless, they would have used those funds to help the homeless.

    The dominant society places a greater emphasis on the care of animals instead of people, but you all don’t seem to see this unless someone tells you.

    Open your eyes and look around you because they’re actions tell you everything.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    Black people should fight for a lot of things now but the one thing I want to focus on is we need to own more businesses in our neighborhoods and outside of our neighborhoods. I’m working a job now where I look up companies for a bank (boring job and I hate it). Most of the owners I have come across are either part of these three groups: Asian, Middle Eastern, or white. I have only come across one company owned by someone who was black. I remember it was a law firm ran by two ladies. It annoys me sometimes how some of these individuals can come from other countries sometimes not even residence here and open business but we either can’ or don’t. I heard that one of the reasons we don’t own many business is because those three groups of people can get a business loan quicker than A.A. I really think its crazy how most of the owners of the business in my community are ran by Arabs. They owned most of the corner stores, the hair stores, and the clothing so you know they are making the money.

    Second point I was looking the world news on Saturday and they were covering this event. It made me mad when a young girl probably a pre-teen black said “I’m glad I don’t live in a racist society anymore”. I went off on a rant. It made not be like it was but we have a long way to go.

  • Annoyed

    And my point is that too many black entrepeneurs (sp) only target a market that looks like them and believe they can only open a business in a black neighborhoods.

  • https://www.facebook.com/vickivale1975 Victoria Williams

    You telling the darn truth and I agree 100%. Blacks need businesses more than ever. That is how we fight off the affects of racism. I’ll go even further and say that our main objective should be the ownership and control of our black owned businesses. And we better be ready to fight for that. It’s worth the fight because a good amount of the issues in the Black community start from a lack of wealth.

  • Jame

    I’ve really changed my mind recently on what I think core priorities are. We absolutely need to solve the prison problem. We all know far too many of us are in jail, and even more are in the prison system on parole or probation. What we don’t talk about is how this impacts your ability to secure an independent future.

    Once you are branded a criminal, securing a job or housing is impossible and you are unable to become a productive member of society. No matter how minor the incident was that caused you to be branded a criminal. With the disparities in sentencing, and the overwhelming targeting of black youth for monitoring, we are disproportionately impacted by the prison system, and the prison industrial economy.

    We need to start by removing some of the stigma, in our community and beyond of being branded a criminal. Obviously, if someone is raping or murdering these are not what I would consider forgivable offenses. The war on drugs, or too many parking tickets or shoplifting a pack of gum can be detrimental to your future opportunities and participation in society. If we do not address this now, we are going to have huge numbers of black “citizens” without the rights of citizenship.

  • Travis

    Is this article f@!#$ing serious?!?!? “Despite our immense progress…” The assertion that we have arrived is the most ridiculous sh!t ever to think. Just about by any measure (e.g. incarceration, black-owned business, fatherless households, wealth, health, etc.) black people (African-Americans) are doing just as poorly if not worse than at any point since the civil rights era and perhaps prior. This assertion the author makes in this article truly represents the reality that black people in the US are the global “house negroes” of the world. We reap the benefit of a gross and artificially inflated standards of living based exclusively on the brutalization and exploitation of other black and brown people, for no other reason than our proximity to “Massa”, and we forget that we are in fact part of a world community (African diaspora) who continue to be brutalized, colonized, and exploited.

    To answer your question, “what should we fight for today…?”, how about liberation for African people from European colonialism. Or is that too lofty a goal for you. That was King’s objective before you intellectualized Negroes allowed him to be whitewashed and corporatized by US mainstream media. King was every bit a socialist who focused primarily on the evils of colonization and capitalism.

    Massa’s house catch fire and the house negroes exclaim, “Massa ‘our’ house a fire!!!” (1863). US economy tanks and the African-Americans exclaim, ‘Our’ economy is doing bad.” (2013) Same brand of servitude. Sellouts supreme.

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