Born Black: The Pride and the Pain
Author: H.D. Armstrong

Chapter 3
INTEGRATION

CHAPTER 3

Integration

 

     In Chapter 1, I referred to integration as a new kind of slavery. This has always been a controversial subject; so, let us examine this ideology more closely. Of course, the physical attributes have changed considerably. No more whips, chains, ropes, shackles or plantations. This new slavery has taken a much higher road to achieve the oppression of African Americans. The push to end segregation was the most significant factor in the civil rights movement. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for; you may get it.”  The civil rights movement gave birth to several key pieces of legislation:  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and The Fair Housing Act of 1968. Briefly stated, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided African Americans with equal and indiscriminate access to public facilities, schools, jobs, goods and services. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 empowered the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections. This resolution increased black voter registration in a 5-year span, from 1.5 to 3.2 million, and installed more than 500 African Americans in elective office. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. All of these events culminate into the current state of affairs. African Americans have been dispersed throughout American society in these four basic areas: work force, education, housing and politics. Don’t misunderstand. These were important and positive steps in the push towards equality for African Americans. My intent here is not to discredit the civil rights movement or even integration itself. The point here is to show the parallel between integration and The Wagon and the Horses scenario that I mentioned earlier. In addition, in this “new slavery” we see a mentality similar to that under the old system of slavery. As thousands of entire families were separated by the slave trade, the strategy in effect, was to-- “divide and conquer”. So, what evidence of this do we see in our society today? The following data is taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Statistical Brief, March 1991:  In the area of population, 55% of African Americans live in the South, 18% live in the Northeast & Midwest, and 9% live in the West. In the area of education, 79% of African Americans 25 and older have a high school diploma, 17% have a bachelor’s degree. In the area of labor, 68% of African American men are employed, 62% of black women are employed, and 11% of African Americans are unemployed. In the area of occupation, 18% of African American men hold a managerial/professional job, along with 26% of African American women. For service jobs, the ratio is 19% for African American men, along with 27% for African American women. In the area of income, 52% of all African American couples had incomes of $50,000 or more, 16% had incomes of $75,000 or more, and 58% had incomes of $25,000 or less. Out of the 32.9 million Americans living below the poverty level, 23% were African American. In the area of religion, 3% of African Americans are Catholic, 29% are Baptist, 11% are Methodist, 1% are Lutheran, 3% are Presbyterian, 4% are Protestant, 22% are Pentecostal, 4% are Buddhist, and 27% are Muslim/Islamic. In the area of politics, 63% of African Americans registered as Democrats, 10% registered as Republicans, and 24% registered as Independents. Now, at this point, I’ll bet I know exactly what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that these statistics don’t mean anything, and you’re absolutely correct. All by themselves, these numbers don’t amount to a pod of peas. Similar ratios would be found using various other ethnic groups. However, the difference is that other ethnic groups chose to be in this country. African Americans were dispersed throughout the country, due to a condition of slavery. Furthermore, immediately following the end of slavery, African Americans did not have an opportunity to regroup, so to speak, and make a collective decision to leave or stay in America. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, there were no ships waiting to take the “free negroes” back to Africa; therefore, leaving America was not a viable option for most, at that point in time. In 1816, the ACS (American Colonization Society) was formed to finance and arrange the removal of “free negroes” to Africa. Although some took advantage of the opportunity, most did not, citing that the United States of America was their home. In the 1920’s, the “Back to Africa” movement re-emerged, but by this time, complacency helped integrate a new generation of African Americans into American society. Now, look at the census data again, and this time, put it all in perspective with what I’ve been saying about The Wagon and the Horses scenario, and the strategy to “divide and conquer” African Americans. Where do we stand, as a nation of people who share the common bond of being born black? We are disjointed socially, economically, religiously and politically. How did this happen? How did we become such a fragmented people? The answer is actually, quite simple. Our lineage has stretched a long way from Africa, 4500 B.C to 21st century America. The slave trade, which spanned hundreds of years, dispersed our people across many different lands and cultures. The interaction with these different cultures introduced our people to a different set of values and principles. Do you see how easy it is to pick up bad habits? We have come a long way from the African society, where the entire village shared in the raising of children. In this American culture, one of the principles (habits) we have learned is the philosophy of, “every man for himself.”  This is one of the major problems in the black community. We no longer act and function as a village. This American culture is an “individual” culture. We have adopted that mentality. We compete against each other for jobs, positions, success, glory, and just about everything else, including the affections of the opposite sex. We have deviated so far from our central core that we can no longer see each other. Just like kids in a toy store, we have all run off in different directions, to the point where we cannot see our parents, brothers and sisters. When we pass each other on the street, in a store or place of business, we don’t see a brother or sister. We only see someone who is a threat to our own personal agenda. That is what this culture has taught us to feel about each other. That is why we’ve grown apart. That is why there is a lack of unity, and finally, that is why the fragmentation of our race continues to increase every single day.

 

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