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

By contributing writer Micalos Arnold

This is a continuation of Arnold’s first column, How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans: Pt. I

Dynamic Change Point Three

In 1965, Martín Luther King, Jr. stood beside a seated President Lyndon B. Johnson as he signed the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, thus guaranteeing the right to vote for black Americans per the 15th Amendment. Before the 1965 Act, black voters were subjected to humiliating voter literacy tests like “guess how many jelly beans are in this jar boy” or were asked to fill out complicated applications their white counterparts were not required to endure. And let’s not overshadow death threats that became a reality, intimidation, bad election voting site information, and polling stations a black person could not enter because of “white’s only” signs even though a black voter was indeed assigned to that voting center. 

So, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 extinguished all of the problems black Americans often encountered (especially in the South) while trying to exercise their legal right to participate in the great democracy of our nation…right? Guess again. One of the issues the Voting Rights Act covered was the factual history that states with a history of strong discrimination against people of color had prevented these minorities from voting. However, in June of 2013, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ripped the soul of the Voting Rights Act from its core by declaring that racial minorities NO LONGER faced barriers to voting in states like Texas and Alabama that harbored a powerful historic legacy of racial discrimination. So Chief Justice Roberts, as well as justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Ailto, Jr. paved the way for redistricting of election maps, unfair voting identification requirements, and more without needing any federal oversight. So in fact, the point of racially biased states needing to be monitored and supervised by the federal government was essentially ruled unconstitutional.

Fast forward back to now. Voter suppression in what I will call the Hot Potato Nine (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and historically mega slave state Virginia) states is at alarming levels again, and indeed, had never totally went away. And other states in the south and north were and are guilty too. So, via Dynamic Change Point Three,  it’s time to make the Voting Rights Act PERMANENT. No time limit. And an amendment should be added where a federally funded watchdog group consisting of various voting rights activists/groups/organizations will hi-lite and have the authority to take over voting policies and functions in states that exhibit or support voting suppression tactics.

Dynamic Change Point Four

Chicago. St. Louis. Detroit. Memphis. Los Angeles. Birmingham. Baltimore. Kansas City. Little Rock. Shawnee. Oakland. New Orleans. Flint. Camden. Philadelphia. Washington D.C.. Cleveland. Hell, pick a city where good people of color are working hard and hoping for the best possible education for their kids. These folks yearn for a fair opportunity to one day acquire, or simply maintain a decent home. They vote and hope they can count on the people they send to the state capital and Washington, D.C. to make a real difference in their lives. But change and help are often elusive for black families in certain neighborhood’s.

However one thing these folks can count on in too many neighborhoods in the fore mentioned cities is a problem with crime. And in these communities, the mostly good people are exposed to, disproportionately,  or are actually dealing with crime issues on one level or another that are flat out frightening. With emphasis on the disproportionately part. But let’s keep this conversation totally ‘one hundred.’ Folks, especially if you are a person of color, know exactly where the neighborhood’s of concern are. And they know that nothing, or very little, is being done about the problem. I talk to black people in various cities a lot. And even better, I travel to a lot of these cities myself. And yes, I’ve met some great people who are proud of their cities and neighborhoods. But the problem is these same people have to deal with ridiculous situations daily. Like not being able to go to certain gas stations because crime and bad behavior is so prevalent inside and outside of these businesses. I get warned over and over about “this neighborhood” and “that neighborhood” to avoid. Stay away from this park, and don’t send your kids to that school. “These fools are out of control!” I’m told over and over and over and over again from concerned residents. “And damn it, if a black man robs me, a black man, I don’t care what you call it but it sure sounds like black on black crime to me.” That’s a real quote courtesy of a black man in Memphis who really doesn’t give a shit about what ‘people’ think about the controversial term. He see’s the situation through a clear and pure observational lens. But the truth of the matter is, the term ‘black on black crime’ is a political tool siphoned from the black community who use the term not as a omnipotent thing of terror, but just as a statement of acknowledging the obvious within a community where damn near everyone is black. And if that black community was pushed or forced together by a number of historically unfair disparities, then the term is further weakened and debunked because just like most car accidents happen within twenty five miles of a drivers home, most crime happens to be committed by persons in the community. So black criminals or opportunists don’t target victims based on being black. It’s just a matter of communal convenience in many cases of so called black on black crime. And yes, white people kill a lot of other white people in numbers that, per capita, would shock some folks. But that area of crime is not called ‘white on white’ crime. When Italian’s kill each other it’s not called ‘Italian on Italian’ crime. So see the term ‘black on black crime’ for what it is….it is indeed the intentional degradation of one group of people so that black folks appear to have somehow wished for a manifestation of crime conditions crafted from a host of systemically racist ‘developments’.

So the real question is why? Why would a black woman in Philadelphia steer me away from any black neighborhood in that city? Why did a black friend scream with joy when he was, and I sadly but accurately quote, “finally able to move the fuck away from these crazy ass nigga’s in San Bernardino.” End quote. Not how I would have said it, but you get his point. Why can’t my daughter go to the gas station (by the way, what is it with all the bullshit going down at gas stations in our communities?) in her neighborhood without the fear and reality of getting robbed at assault gun point by fellow black residents? Again, let’s now focus on the ‘why’s’. I’ll tell you why, again, if you haven’t quite caught on. Systemic racism on so many levels it makes your head spin to a tight spiral, rapidly spin back, and repeat as necessary. If your great grand parents never received, or even had the opportunity to receive a good education because of unfair Jim Crow policies and racially suppressive economics, poor housing conditions, and their children, your grandparents, find themselves in the same neighborhood and conditions (but wait…there’s more), then would it be totally shocking that your grandparents can only pass the debilitating legacy of these inadequacies to, yes, your parents? And so here you are. In the same repressive neighborhood and living conditions that are overlooked generation after generation by yet another group of elected officials every year with a dose of the same disparities that hurt (and were willfully done by a number of diabolical contributors) your parents parents parents. Look, the President is sending unidentifiable police and federal agencies into cities so that he can thump his chest that he is tough on crime and proclaim that only he can clean up crime in shit hole (come on, you know that’s what he really calls democratically helmed cities) liberal enclaves. And as an additional note, violent crime is down a bit in some of the cities I named early in this op ed.

But still, there are young black men and women killing each other no matter the statistical measures. And doing it in far greater numbers and faster than any police force as unbelievable as that fact may sound. This behavior has to stop. But how? How? What makes a young group of black men hop in a car, drive to a rival ‘territory’ (property’s and land they do not own), pull up to another young black man walking down the street with his young son, and fire assault rifles at both? How will this behavior end? And when will we see monumental rallies and protests about and targeted towards this ridiculous, mind numbing violence? Dynamic Change Point Five is the hardest of all, because it is so culturally, systemically, socially, politically, and yes, spiritually complex that it hurts one’s brain physically. So the solution is not for the faint of heart. And those willing to fight the good fight better be ready to play the long game. Dynamic Change Point Four is the culmination of all of the Dynamic Change Point’s. That’s the grand arena. That’s where transformation awaits. Those points shape the real revolutionary win against crime where we live.

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

When not dutifully scanning the Nevada skies for swarms of massive bee-like invaders, Micalos Arnolda 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.

2 thoughts on “How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans: Pt. II

  1. Hello, I enjoyed the two part series. The four points were all good and had valid information for each. Here is my feedback & opinion for each point:

    1-Financial support for black businesses and black banks: Agree 100%. In addition, an educational component would be necessary. We have to ensure that we have the knowledge of what to do with the money for our businesses. Having a good business idea means nothing without the wherewithal to effectively execute and use the money efficiently.

    2-Life Insurance: Whew this is the one with my greatest point of feedback. I totally get your point about the history of discrimination in this area. However, I disagree this is the largest reason that many black families do not have life insurance today. This one is more about Education. Some black men have an outlook that they do not want someone living off of them when they die. I know many people, including myself, who have heard men make these statements. I have heard the same men who complain about white people passing down wealth to their kids, say in the next conversation they will not get life insurance. They literally do not see the connection. I also think both women and men in our communities are not informed on policy choices, budgets, etc. around policies. Lastly, there is a component of maturity and responsibility as well. I still witness older black people refuse to discuss death and planning in general, not just life insurance. Think of some of our recent black celebrities who died without a will. These people had access to attorneys, and whole teams of people, and still chose not to plan their estates. My point is there is a lot more around the issue of life insurance and death planning than the history of discrimination. *I must note that I am not black man bashing. I am very sensitive about that as a black woman. I love my black men and am not putting them down as a whole. Just sharing feedback about this particular topic. Also, I would like to note that I am doing my part to education our community about life insurance. I made it the topic for two of my group meetings with women in June. One meeting with my peers – they already had life insurance and discussed more education around policies. The other with my clients – who are mostly low income; none of them had it and their reasons had nothing to do with history. It was because no one had ever told them about it and they thought it was something they could not afford. When I first broached the topic of life insurance a few months ago (before COVID) they all were completely floored and said they had no idea how important it was. They were so intrigued even after COVID they kept asking me about it, so I planned a virtual session in June and brought on two black agents to present to them. During the meeting, I literally made them repeat “Go Fund Me is NOT life Insurance!” They all said it and laughed! I am happy to report that several of them now have policies!

    3-Voting Rights Act Permanent: 1000% agreed!

    4-Culmination (With focus on crime): Agreed! All of these areas are needed for us to cause effective change. There is more I could say about the crime portion, but I will save that for another day!

    Thank you for the insightful conversation. Very well written.

    1. Well said Latonia! Thank you for your feedback! And yes, black men who shun life insurance for what are really misguided and selfish reason’s is a strong reality. And it is a cultural deficiency amongst some black folks as a life investment tool. Please feel free to comment often. Don and I appreciate your thoughts. I encourage you to invite others to read and subscribe to DDP!

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