The subject of race today is a deeply divided, emotional-laden issue. After years of unrelenting discrimination, blacks are out of patience, enraged over racial justice long delayed.
One wonders if the demand for justice is so deep and embedded as to preclude any long-term solution. Previous attempts at reconciliation were largely unsuccessful.
For example, in an attempt to improve black-white relations, busing was instituted with minimal results after several years of trials.
During a similar period, a social phenomenon called “white flight” occurred, in which middle class whites moved to the suburbs, ostensibly to escape the squalor, crime and poverty of the inner city. Did whites relocate because of widespread prejudice or were they simply looking for a better environment in which to raise their families?
Why the lack of social and racial progress in the last half century? Despite the fact that slavery ended 157 years ago and civil rights legislation has been in effect for 55 years, people of color have remained at the bottom of the socio-economic scale.
Most of our black population, especially those in the inner city, have been caught in a never-ending cycle of repression and joblessness. With little hope for a future, they live marginal, disadvantaged lives.
It is crucial at the current time that the white community understands and responds to the anger and lingering resentment of the black community. Progress in black-white relationships will occur when the white community (1) assumes responsibility for past acts of racism and (2) makes sure blacks are afforded the same educational and occupational opportunities as whites. With a long history of functioning at the bottom of the all-important socio-economic scale, it is vitally important that people of color take an active role in the development and attainment of occupational skills.
It is through the medium of education that allows people of all races to climb the socio-economic ladder and compete equally and successfully for jobs.
The importance of education cannot be overemphasized, for it is the sine qua non of a successful, independent life. It is imperative that black parents take a proactive role in education by engaging their children in a nightly regimen of home study, conducted throughout their preteen and teenage years.
It is only through an early focus on the value of education that people of color will be able to bridge the socio-economic gap and obtain the necessary skills to compete successfully for jobs and independency.