A short counter-point to my colleague Darrick Herndon’s piece in ThyBlack Man. America has never been a melting pot; it’s been more of a stew, where some of the vegetables are pushed to the top while others have always been pushed down closer to the fire. However life in America is changing where those who thought they were on the top are slowly getting mashed down closer to the fire. That was a semi-poetic way to say the white working class is getting screwed, just like us, but as usual the white working class are not blaming those doing the pushing (wealthy corporations and their sycophant politicians that do their bidding) but those they are getting pushed down on top of for taking up to much space on the bottom.
So I say a divorce is imminent. Within the time-line of history it is very short, I would suggest within the next 50 years. The contraction of the US economy in terms of job and wealth creation will only bring more anger that will easily be manipulated by wealthy forces to create scapegoats in the form of Black and Latinos that will explain away white economic hardships. The current structural adjustment program underway in the US will create more fissures and more fighting for diminishing resources. In addition the tea-party republican types are now clearly seeing the picture that this country will be majority people of color in a short time, that is already true for the younger generation where the birthrate of Blacks, Latinos and Asians have collectively surpassed white birth rates. This has not ushered in a kumbaya moment of melting pot acceptance. Instead a backlash that has already started taking shape is at work, harsher immigration laws, another increase in intense racial profiling and criminalization of Black and Latinos(that includes children), as to strip away voting rights and the call for voter i.d. calls meant to suppress voting, even a call to end citizenship by birth. The current debates in Washington will continue that process, democrats will do it with some lubricant, the hard right likes the friction, but that is the direction of the debate. It will lead to the continued balkanization of America, and new secession calls from white elected officials not just so-called fringe groups.
For Africans in America, the minority of black people who were able to establish a so-called middle class lifestyle did that overwhelmingly through public employment. In fact the highpoint for black people in America in terms of wealth creation was in the 90s, it was not exactly the best of times but compared to other decades it probably represents a highpoint for individual black wealth (I would guess in some weird way under segregation collective black wealth was greater). However still in the tail end of the great recession, the collapse of the housing market, the upcoming gutting of government employment and the privatization of public structures don’t bold well for a “real” recovery for Blacks in America. Look at Michigan not just the collapse of the auto industry as a community sustaining and job industry, but what the conservative state structure have started doing in majority black cities. Appointing State Managers to take over parts of the city (in some case the entire city) to privatize city property and or structures that employ thousands of black people. Privatize is a nice way of saying they are turning over the structures to mostly white owned corporate interest, who plan to turn a profit and cut jobs. This not only takes away collective wealth making structures and democratic control but the hopes are to push Blacks out of the city and the state as Black people are blamed for economic hardships. New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was the great experiment on how to privatize during a period of upheaval (coined by Naomi Klein as disaster capitalism), but the economic upheaval has now opened the door to more blaming of government and downsizing of government. This is of course is a remarkable propaganda victory for financial capitalism who within two years were able to turn privately induced economic ruin into a call for less government.
The only real questions for black people in America is can we prepare for a continued splintering of America. The bloom was never much, but it is dissipating at a rapid pace. The symbol of a black president who either can’t or won’t deliver for the black community should not blind us to economic and political realities that are happening now and only likely to continue. Over the next 20 to 30 years America will be losing parts of its global influence as other economic powers rise. The US military will not be able to kill its way to control foreign nations and there resources as it loses its ability to pay for dictators and as information becomes more democratic throughout the world, telling the real story behind US foreign policy. The unequal distribution of wealth is at a all time high whole at the same time the US is falling in every measurable standard of a “healthy society”; Health care, infant mortality, life expectancy, education, prison to population ratio, on and on. These trends won’t be reversed because the wealthy are not going to wake up one day and decide to stop stealing, they will devise more plans to pit people against each other, and in America that works.
Now is the time to prepare, to start looking at how to build up political organizations and economic structures that can support black majority areas. Models exist for creating food security, dynamic democratic structures, economic alternatives and good governance that responds to people’s needs. For the black community this can act as a political counter weight to the continued onslaught. Continuing bro. Herndon’s analogy, divorce for some can be a terrible thing, if you refuse to bring insight and a sense of self-esteem about possibilities away from a destructive relationship then yes it will be a hard road. For others it is quite liberating, if you are mentally and economically prepared for it, bring a sense of self-determination for the future. If smart you prepare for what you know is coming, you don’t hold on hoping things will get better in an abusive relationship.