How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans: Pt. I

By contributing writer Micalos Arnold

In 1967 I was only six years old. Just a young skinny black child living in a tough part of Detroit. Yet I was old enough to have sense enough to duck behind a three foot porch wall as an uncovered military transport truck, courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson as requested by then Governor George Romney (Senator Mitt Romney’s dad), drove by slowly, with its full bed of soldiers aiming and cocking long rifles off the side rails of the big green loud truck. Indeed, a violent, frightening, and destructive race riot was underfoot in the city where I was born.

That riot was essentially sparked by a police raid in Detroit’s Virginia Park on a 12th Street and Clairmount illegal after hours club. But sweltering heat, a crippling Detroit city economy, and common complaints about brutality levied against Detroit police were also fuses that led to an explosion of violence that ultimately led to the deaths of 43 people and the burning of at least fourteen hundred buildings and mass looting beginning on July 23rd, 1967. So for me, like many black American baby boomers, rioting sparked by police actions are nothing new. But the tragic and despicable death of George Floyd ignited something more than rioting and looting. The officer charged in George Floyd’s death knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck almost nonchalantly with a visible smirk for eight minutes and forty six seconds, allegedly killing a man who was loved, had a family, and deserved humanity from a man who is sworn to protect and serve the city of Minneapolis. Without question, as the officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, as life was leaving the human being he pinned to the hard pavement mercilessly, from death was a movement born.

But now, as the mass world wide protesting wanes, as we all as a planet fight an invisible fiend that also finds many of it’s victims desperately crying out “I can’t breathe”, as we barrel tumultuously towards the most consequential presidential election in the history of not just the United States but in fact the world, many Americans, and specifically black Americans, ask themselves one question. What do we want? How does the magnificent global response to George Floyd’s death translate into real tangible, documented change for black people in particular? This country was built and financed by FREE labor (worth Trillions in today’s dollars) via the raped, mutilated, whipped, burned, hanged, dismembered, and hunted bodies of black men and women trapped in a world of legal slavery that many people and old world businesses benefit from today, right NOW. So this country still owes black people everything. Pick a systemic problem in the black community and I’ll show you a problem that ties itself to inequalities directly dating back to the slave trade. That’s how diabolical and inhumane slavery was, followed closely by Jim Crow laws that crippled the black spirit, psyche, and economic viability. And many of the challenges dealing with race in this country and other’s today is a direct product of America not being willing to have a real, no bullshit conversation of how racism and its legacy debilitates our nation. This powerful nation has some serious  race relations problems. Period. So, in my mind, we must demand without any compromise at least the following in what I call Black America’s Five Points of Dynamic Change.

Dynamic Change Point One

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act of 2020 was passed in an effort to protect Americans from the economic and public health problems caused by the Covid19 pandemic. One of the components of this two trillion dollar plus initiative was billions of dollars set aside for small businesses, with a portion of that money targeted to black business owners. On a grander scale, this type of financial support from the federal government needs to be set aside and upgraded to assure that current and prospective black entrepreneurs have access to the capital, or supplemental capital that often eludes prospective black business aspirations due to diminished and unfair loan and investment money practices affected and influenced by racism, especially in communities of color. And speaking of money, a special financial component would be set aside for one glorious investment …establishing a support fund for black investors to open viable black owned banks. There are many positive ideas that could mold and craft such a bill, but it must be made so. This is Dynamic Change Point One, which I know, has a strong reparation ‘tone’ to it. Imagine that.

Dynamic Change Point Two

When a spouse dies in a family structure that features two parents, children, a mortgage, rent, college aspirations, and family bills and debt in general, the loss of a working parent and spouse can be devastating. This loss is compounded with additional misery when there is no financial discovery, specifically via a life insurance policy for the survivors in that immediate family. Monies acquired from reasonable and higher valued insurance policies can lead to dramatic financial gains and security for a family after the loss of a loved (or not so loved) one. So let’s look at life insurance in a real world aspect that many reading this, especially black Americans, can either relate to or have experienced themselves in one way or another. Uncle Louis is a black forty-one year old man with a wife of ten years and two daughters, age nine and seven, that live in his household. Louis and his wife both work but still find it hard to pay the bills, and even when they do get ‘caught up’ in paying bills timely, something always happens to put them behind again financially. He is a security supervisor for a small security firm, and his wife is a hard working waitress at a nearby IHOP restaurant. You already know where this is going. Louis dies of a sudden heart attack, leaving behind a wife and two kids who live in a modest apartment. Louis had no life insurance. So upon his tragic death, his sister and his wife find themselves canvassing other family members to help raise money to send Louis off with at least some semblance of a dignified funeral. And God only knows what life will now be like financially for Louis’s wife and children. His father had died without having a life insurance policy, and his father’s father wanted a policy in the Jim Crow south many years ago but was quoted astronomical policy rates by white agents, or in many cases, agencies simply wouldn’t sell a policy to Louis’s great grandfather at all in rural Mississippi because of the color of his skin. So Louis’s approach to, and his family culture towards life insurance was indifferent at best. And moreover, a thirty-five to sixty-five dollar a month payment towards something with no tangible benefit just wasn’t affordable. So instead of Louis’s wife collecting an insurance payment of, say, $200,000, the financial pendulum swings totally the opposite way, and Louis is yet another uninsured black man being buried by scraped together funds across many family members, and his final legacy to his wife becomes a litany of bill’s and debt she cannot even begin to manage. The moral of the story is simple. Life insurance payments help create a windfall of family wealth and financial viability. But for black Americans, a historic racist and denial of insurance policy liberty years ago have created a culture in some black families that has it’s roots buried deep in the fields of Jim Crow. How many millions of dollars, historically, have black families lost due to nonaccess, or worse, a mind numbing cultural conditioning that places no value or importance on this financial tool? Thus, with no embarrassment to the idea of the black community’s quantitative loss in such an often overlooked financial disparity, Dynamic Change Point Two would offer a five year fifty percent payment subsidy to moderate to low income black families who purchase a term or other life insurance product and maintain the policy by virtue of making the payments on that policy. This subsidy would be refunded through the IRS system as long as the taxpaying Point Three recipient does not owe in back taxes any funds more than the value of the Point Three subsidy. A by-product of this Point would be increased jobs and revenue from the increased sales of policies and insurance payouts whose monies would surely flow back into the economy when formally none of this economic activity would be a factor at the death of an uncovered black family member.

Next: How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans Part II

When not dutifully scanning the Nevada skies for swarms of massive bee-like invaders, Micalos Arnold, a retailer, and writer, spends a lot of time working on his first novel, a thriller tentatively titled Cold Hunt, as well as preparing for the re-launch of his entertainment website The Rhythm Review.

4 thoughts on “How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans: Pt. I

  1. I absolutely love the Dynamic Change Points, especially the point regarding life insurance. There should definitely be some concessions from the Government for the Black business community & individual families. We’re owed much more, but this is a great start. Great article, Micalos Arnold.

    1. Thank you Kecherie! The life insurance point is proving to be pretty popular. Life insurance is often overlooked as an investment tool…and it literally can change the trajectory in a positive way for a struggling family at the lost of a loved one. Please reply again sometime and encourage others to read and comment here on DDP!

  2. First, I really enjoyed Mr. Arnold’s piece and am looking forward to Part ll. But first I have to say that reading the beginning of the article brought back sooo many memories of that summer in 1967. I lived right in the thick of the riots on Virginia Park, just 1 block from 12th Street. I was attending an all-white middle school many many miles and 3 busses away from home and was petrified every single day, especially after the riots were squashed by the National Guard (who freely roamed through our back yard at will.) But back to Mike Arnold’s suggestions of what we (Black Americans) really need were excellent! The reasons and foundation on which our systemic issues are built were articulated in a way that was so spot on (to say the least). I totally agree with the solutions he put forth and again, I anxiously await Part Il.

    1. Thank you for contributing to the conversation Lauren. Your feedback is welcomed and highly valued. We look forward to hearing from you again. please invite others to join us here on DDP!

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