The Rise of U.S. Capitalism and the Fight for Economic Equality for African Americans - PART I
Protesters hold "Black Lives Matter" banner as they march to the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
“We are just a few generations removed from African Americans being killed for learning to read and write.”
As a child, I often heard my older family members speak on “The System.” I was taught at a young age that I had to be that much smarter and go that much harder to have a chance. My Grandma would often say, “You have to work twice as hard to get half as much.” Like many of us, these trying times have forced me to reflect on the systematic oppression, and what we need to do to move forward. Maya Angelou once said, “The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.” It is vital to understand what African Americans have had to fight to get to where we are now, so we can have a better understanding of what we need to do to keep pushing forward. There are so many issues that are factored into systematic oppression. However, I want to dive into two issues that keep “The System” going; Capitalism and Economic Inequality.
We are just a few generations removed from African Americans being killed for learning to read and write. The powerful tool of education is essential for the economic advancement of African Americans. In 1968, 54 percent of African American adults between the ages of 25-29 were high school graduates, opposed to 75 percent of whites. Fast forward to 2016, and 92 percent of African American adults between the ages of 25-29 were high school graduates. Slightly more than 22 percent of African Americans have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is an increase of 9 percent since 1968. Even though we are past the days of segregated schools, there is still a massive gap in the difference in money and resources invested in predominantly black schools versus predominately white schools. According to NPR, predominately white school districts receive 23 Billion more dollars than black school districts, despite having the same number of students.
Although African Americans have progressed in achieving higher education, it’s not enough to close the education gap as it pertains to white Americans. Amongst white Americans, more than 95 percent of whites are high school graduates, and 42 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is an increase from 16 percent in 1968. The Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the African American unemployment rate in 1972, and the data shows that African Americans have consistently, and doubly lagged behind whites. Even if African Americans attained the same level of education as whites, African Americans were paid less due to racially discriminatory practices and policies in the workplace and within the hiring process, thus pushing the agenda of economic inequality.
To read part II of The Rise of U.S. Capitalism and the Fight for Economic Equality for African Americans, click here.