The Road To Black Empowerment Is Filled With Distractions

Black America, don’t fall for it…

There is a lot of noise outside right now from people who want justice, equality, and every right written into the Constitution. And rightfully so. America has fallen short of living up to it’s creed for marginalized groups and it’s wealth disparities can no longer be hidden.

The pandemic has exposed America in every way, especially disparities between Black America and the rest of America. Since we’ve been quarantined in our homes, we have been forced to pay attention to the state of Black America, as unjust killings of Black people have sparked protests and riots around the world.

With all eyes on Black America, what does America do?

Pass laws that protects gays and transgenders in the workplace and rollout a Hispanic prosperity initiative (both of which are victories I too celebrate). So while other groups are getting legislation passed, Black people are still marching…

Since racism has revealed itself to many white people who did not realize that racism was still a “thing”, America is working hard to pacify Black people with symbolic victories.

Statues of known slave holders and racist from the past have been taken down. Companies have made statement and declarations condemning racism. ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been painted on streets. The NBA wants to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the court. The NFL wants to sing ‘Lift Every Voice’ before the games.

These are very kind gestures, but symbolic victories do not reverse the damage that America has inflicted upon it’s Black population through systematic oppression.

Symbolic victories do not close the wealth gap.

Symbolic victories do not create opportunities for Black people in crime infested areas.

Symbolic victories do nothing to address the disproportionate rate at which Black people go to prison.

Symbolic victories hardly scratch the surface in healing the lasting effects of slavery in the Black community.

Since the Ahmaud Arbery incident, Americans have again been inundated with Black people unjustly murdered on our screens, and the movement for equity and justice for Black Americans has been drowned out.

The mainstream media is playing on the heart strings of Black America. While Black people are not the only group killed by police, they are the only group that the media continuously shows getting murdered. Seeing the murders makes us upset and calls us into action, but most of us act out of emotion.

Instead of organizing, strategizing, and mobilizing, our emotions overpower our ability to think rationally. When we don’t think rationally, we lose our ability to analyze the situation and choose a course of action that empowers us individually, as well as our greater community.

Politicians have heavily politicized the movement as to where those on the right are using protests and riots as a way to paint Black people as savages to prove their point that Whites have 10 times the amount of wealth as Black people because of personal decisions, rather than being oppressed through legal measures.

Those on the left are using this break down of race relations as a reason why Black people should vote for Joe Biden. Because according to Biden, if you can’t figure out why you should vote for him over Trump, “then you ain’t black”.

Then there is the organization ‘Black Lives Matter’. While I appreciate the work this group is doing for the cause of Black people, it is important to make the distinction between the agenda of Black Lives Matter, and the movement for the empowerment of Black people.

Where Black Lives Matter seems to be associated monetarily with the Democratic party and heavily focused on LGBTQ rights, the overall movement for the betterment of Black America is about getting justice and equity for all Black Americans. Not just those on the left. Not just those apart of the LGBTQ community, but all Black Americans.

While Black America has the world at attention, now is the time to apply pressure. Now is the time to lay out our demands, and have America, our country too, meet those demands in a way that begins to repair the Black community from legal measures this country historically put in place to keep Black people from enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Now is not the time to worry about what phrase is going to go on the back of Lebron’s jersey, finding the next street to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on, or even dufunding the police. Policing is a symptom of the bigger problem, which is Black people do not own and control hardly anything in this country. And as long as we allow others to control our communities, we can expect more of the same.

While Black America has the world at attention, now is the time to unify.

Black Americans will never own and control anything unless we commit to pulling our resources together so that we have a seat at the world table. Until all descendants of the slave trade recognize distraction, misdirection, and symbolic victories for what they are, then we will never enjoy the wealth that America has to offer, as other minority groups have.

There are surely steps Black people can take to close the wealth gap, create opportunities for others, and to clean up our communities. These actions are being taken by many individuals and grassroots organizations that are doing tremendous work.

However, as part of American society, it is to the benefit of all Americans to help a group that has been damaged, especially if that damage has been done systematically, and justified by legal documents like the Constitution itself. The more empowered Black America is, the more all Americans are empowered.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — MLK, Jr.

If we hold that statement to be true, and we honor Dr. King the way we say we do, then empowering Black America must come with economic justice as well as social justice, not symbolic victories.

If not, Black people will continue falling victim to the “politricks”.


Justin Patton

Spoken word artist and writer. Living my life and writing about it along the way, it just might inspire somebody. IG: @iamjustinpatton

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