A Tale of Two Americas

This column appears in the October 12, 2017 edition of Urban Pro Weekly.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

If that doesn’t sound like America right now.

Politically, there are two Americas. Financially, there are two Americas. We are divided and segregated on virtually every level.

No matter how many people throw around the word “unity,” no matter how many folks want to say “all lives matter,” it’s clear that in America (and across the world), all lives DO NOT matter.

Now, some people will say that things are worse now because of the “media.” No, the media is only choosing to make money off of the elephant in the room — racism.

Don’t get me wrong, mass media can aggravate a situation and can co-opt a situation like no other entity. Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the course of the NFL last season was a nonviolent protest against police brutality and the treatment of veterans. 

Mass media turned it into a conversation about the anthem and “respecting the flag.”

In the midst of misunderstanding, we see true hypocrisy. I will offer a recent conversation I had with someone about the NFL and Donald Trump:

“I can’t stand (Carolina Panthers quarterback) Cam Newton. He’s a punk. He doesn’t know how to treat women.”

Me: “Would you say the same thing about the President (Donald Trump)?”

“Oh, I love my President. I voted for him.”

Me: “What do you think about how Trump treats women?”

“Oh, Trump knows how to put women in their place.”

I’m not excusing Cam Newton’s comments by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I would challenge Cam as a Black man to be more aware of his commentary. I also think it’s extremely unfair to hold an athlete to a higher standard than the President of the United States. 

Thing is, that’s the American standard. And true to its name, the American standard is in the toilet.

The American standard has been, and will always be, a standard where whiteness and white supremacy are “excellence” and anything else is secondary. This is why, all throughout the South, we see monuments and dedications to men who lost the Civil War. The Confederacy, in and of itself, is an anti-American idea. Good luck trying to explain that to certain “historians.”

As much as I could rant about America’s racism, her income inequality is what really drives this evil machine. It’s the fact that Blacks and other people of color have been locked out of the “American dream” for generations because they have been denied economic opportunity.

Prosperity Now recently presented some research entitled “The Road To Zero Wealth.” The name is alarming enough, but there is a chart entitled “Median Wealth by Education Level and Race” that is particularly distressing. The chart even shows how far we have fallen behind not only whites, but Latinos.

According to the report, Black people with less than a high school diploma have an average of $5 in wealth, compared to $15,000 for whites.

Surely, Black folk with four-year degrees have it better, right? Sure. Their median wealth is $37,600. How does that compare to whites? It is still woefully short, as whites with four-year degrees have a median wealth of $181,220.

It was the best of times (for white people). It was the worst of times (for Black people). As long as this country is committed to white supremacy and the treatment of Black people as second-class citizens, there will always be a tale of two Americas.


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