Not a Plantation but a Dependency

In previous post I have talked about the NAACP and how it’s mission has changed to now being an organization that only seeks to protects quotas and entitlements but does little to address the issues affecting the a sector of the black community. I also wrote about the old dinosaurs of the Civil Rights movements like Rangel, Jackson and Sharpton who are still using the success of the righteous movement as a reason to remain relevant in today’s society, even when they are more damaging than good.  Their time has passed but they won’t let go, as a result they have become controversial figures that only incite rather than help in most situations.

Now I want to address a different issue, but one that I feel is very important when it comes to race relations and some of the misunderstandings by Whites and other races relating to Blacks. W E B Du Bois wrote in his book Black Reconstruction in America:

All Negroes were ignorant;

All Negroes were lazy, dishonest, and extravagant;

Negroes were responsible for bad government during Reconstruction.

This sentiment written back in 1935, is being echoed again, by some well-meaning people.  The expression that Blacks are still in the Plantation or have never left it are common with a lot of people but it is a bad analogy, one I wish would stop.  It is a bad analogy because it prevents progress by staying in the past.  It is bad because it, in a sense gives Blacks an authority they never had as slaves.  They were not allowed to leave the plantation, so comparing that to Blacks today, means that Blacks cannot improve their situation. Once in the plantation you are there until you die or are transferred to another.  It also gives the impression that being in a plantation is preferable to the alternatives. But worse of all it gives a sense of hopelessness, and a feeling that this is the best that can be aspired as person or a group.  Or it will have an opposite effect and that is rebelliousness and uncaring for the norms of the Society that is keeping them enslaved, if not physically, mentally.

Part of the problem is that the historical context is skewed, to basically concentrate on 3 periods of time. Pre-civil War, Civil rights movement and today.  When things are analysed in this fashion it obscures much of what happened leading up the 50’s and 60’s Civil Rights movement and leaves a large part of story untold.

In 1870 the first census taken after the Civil War demonstrated that several Southern States had more Blacks in their population that Whites with many more where the population was split evenly between the two.  This allowed for the election of Black Congressmen and Senators into the Senate. There were 21 Congressman and 2 Senators elected to serve in Congress during that time.  The passage of Voting Laws, including toll taxes, literacy, and others laws by the Southern Democrats curtailed and eventually caused Black politician to not be elected, even in areas where they still formed a majority.

Though things were getting difficult for Black politicians progress was being achieved in other areas. At the beginning of the 20th they were 75+ Black colleges, illiteracy in Blacks had been dramatically decreased from 95% to 45% and was improving yearly. Those early Black students became the leaders of the increasingly segregated South and served to pave the road for the Civil Rights Movement 50 years later. But most importantly they also were a basis for growing Black communities.

Due to the growing tensions in the South, the great Black migration started at the beginning of the 20th century.  By the 1920’s Blacks had establish communities in many cities in the North. This led to the Harlem Renaissance were African-American culture was celebrated, embraced and enhanced.  Black art and literature works appealed not only to Blacks but the Whites as well.  Many African-American artists became mainstream acts, venues in Harlem were patronize not only by Blacks but White patrons as well.  This movement as opposed to later major Black movements like the Black Power movement aimed as assimilation into mainstream society, and was very successful.  It challenged the views of Black America and was the precursor to the Civil Rights movement.

Large Black middle class communities were established in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and other industrial cities.  Even though discrimination was rampant in the South, in the North is was more abated, though still present, the Black middle class grew and was successful.  Gains in the Black communities continued after the Second World War, as returning GI’s used the GI bill to buy home and gain more education.

During the upheaval of the Civil Rights Movement particularly towards end some changes began that have spelled doom for a sector of the Black community.  A series of riots throughout the country in the late 60’s and early 70’s devastated establish black communities.  This in turn further exacerbated the White flight out of those areas into suburbs but with them the Black middle class left as well.  Leaving behind their poorer cousins to reconstruct these areas with limited success.  The mass exodus was sometimes mitigated by immigrants from other areas but these immigrants were usually poorer than the Blacks they were replacing. The city once the home to a growing Black middle class were now left with the poorer Blacks and minorities, this pattern was repeated throughout the country.

One of the areas that was a beneficiary of this new migration was the South, as many of the Black middle class and professionals returned to the South and helped to re-energized the many southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Greensboro and others.  But they moved to suburbs surrounding the cities, leaving the cities to deal with the poorer, less educated cousins. Other factors also played fundamental roles in bringing us to our current situation. Governmental policy changed with the establishment of the Great Society programs and the Black Power movement that immediately followed the Civil Rights movement.

The Black Power movement contrary to the Civil Rights Movement which was trying to gain equality within the society, was about separatism and black nationalism not assimilation.  For all its attributes whether real or imagined this movement created the sense that Blacks different, that only Blacks could solve their problems and ensured that the White establishment had an excuse to for its lack of involvement in the issues regarding the Black community.  At a time when the Black community was gaining the rights to fully integrate into society, the movement kept Blacks separate from the rest and it also gave rise to other identity based groups in other communities like some Hispanics groups.

The demands of self-determination and empowerment changed to one of requests for more entitlements, which the White Democrats now fully endorsed.  Programs for education, housing, quotas on hiring, government programs.  Almost anything that was requested was granted, but with the separation of repudiation of American values (the Establishment) also came the repudiation of traditional Christian values. The values that had seen the Black community through its worst times were now viewed as chains on the Black men.

That was specially evident in the large cities were promiscuity and fatherless homes became the norm.  Aided by governmental policies that provided aid and eventually replace the male role. In turn males have become more rebellious without a set role. Where the aspirations of males of becoming a father and provider were now of becoming a rap star or athlete.  Education and learning were seen as traditional and “white” aspirations, and not part of the new Black experience.

While many blame bad schools as a cause for the lowered scholastic achievement in the Black communities little is mentioned about the culture that has denigrated schooling as a waste of time and worthless activity since the black man will not be allowed to succeed in those fields outside of the arts and athletics. How many Black families find the money to buy sports equipment, and find the time to attend and even hire coaches for their kids, but don’t spend a dime or get a tutor for kids that are having issues at school.

These issue has ultimately created 2 Black Americas, those that follow in the footsteps of Dr. King and those that do not. Suburban Blacks and inner city Blacks.  The Black Power movement gave rise to a different Black Culture and it is here where the lingering effects of the movement are most evident.  The one on the news and depicted by Black Artists and another quietly trying to rise past all of that, raise families and contribute to society and another that look up to government for all its needs, a dependant constituency that still lives that way today.

The issue of the problems with the Black communities in the inner cities have become more apparent in recent years because of the gains in the Hispanic community who 30 years ago were behind the Black community but have improved generational and have surpassed the Black community to the point they are on almost on par with Whites.

Another reason for the gains in the Hispanic community have been its strong background in traditional families.  A recent survey by the Kaiser Foundation found that only 40% of Black women found being married extremely important, and 33% found it to be not important or very important.   In 1890, 80% of African-American households were composed of two parents. One hundred years later, only 40% of African-American children live in married-couple households. Compared that to 67% of Hispanic children that grow-up in a two parent home, and 70% of White children.  

The collapse of the Black family in the inner cities, have meant that generations of young black males are lacking the support and model of a father figure to help them while growing up.  Black mothers have had to assume the role of mother and father with some success in many cases but far too many times that has proven too much.  The young have to look outside of the home for guidance too often falling into the  willing hands of those that would lead them astray.  It has been here that many Black Leaders have failed the community the most.

For too long these leaders used these kids as a tool to get more political power, to enrich their cronies with grants to form organizations that they embezzled from and whose functions rarely do what they were supposed to do in the first.  Case in point from the Chicago Tribune;

Former state Rep. Constance Howard pleaded guilty Wednesday to diverting as much as $28,000 for her personal and political use from a scholarship fund she created to benefit needy students.

Howard’s “Tee Off for Technology” program raised money through an annual golf outing that was supposed to provide scholarships to people seeking a degree in computer science and related fields.

Howard, 70, entered a plea agreement to one felony count of mail fraud that could net her as much as six months in prison and six months of home confinement. Sentencing was set for Nov. 21.

The Chicago Democrat formerly chaired a House Computer Technology Committee, but she resigned her House seat July 6, 2012. Twelve days later, a federal grand jury subpoenaed a series of records from the Illinois House dating from 2000 to 2007, a period in which she ran the committee, the Tribune reported.

Ms. Howard had been investigated twice before but no charges had been filed, the leadership knew about the other accusations and failed to act on account of the wonderful things that she had done in the past.   Meanwhile the ones that suffer from this are the one that most needed and the taxpayers that financed it.  The same story has been repeated all over the country dozens of times in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, in the South, all over.

This is one area where the Democratic Party, its leadership have been complicit and are partly to blame.  Often times the issues are uncovered and the Democratic Leadership has put its interest above the constituents that it claims to serve.  The Democrats took a “hands off” approach to dealing with their Black constituents, their most loyal constituency.  It has poured money to resolve the issues that had nothing to do with money but in doing so, it had contained the issue to certain areas.  For all its talk about integration its policies have almost ensure that a large amount of Blacks stay contained in assigned areas and any issues have been left up to the Black leadership to address which they do as has become their custom by requesting more funds, more targeted programs that have proven worthless.

Again from the Chicago Tribune;

As the national debate over gun violence escalates, the Congressional Black Caucus came to Chicago on Friday promising to put together a plan to curb violence in urban areas.

But at the end of the daylong event, many of the solutions they came up with were nothing new to people in neighborhoods hard-hit by crime: They need jobs. They need more educational opportunities. They need after-school programs.

Acknowledging that they did not have all the answers, the legislators said they hoped to leave with fresh ideas to take back to Washington. But they also acknowledged that funding for anti-violence initiatives is scarce, and it remains up to community groups and others to see that any programs are carried out.

They determine they need more government programs, more money to make new studies that are outdated before they are finished, more of the same.  While the Democrats and the Black leadership have to assume the bulk of the blame, Conservatives have also not been active enough in reaching out to the Black community or has it offered any alternatives to the Status Quo and that is to their shame as Republicans were the leaders in gaining equality for our Black American brothers, but now they are just forgotten, and only used to point out the problems of the big government  model of the Democrats.  Once again politics reigns where a community in need is used as pawn by all involved.

In my next post I talk more about the cultural influences in this debate.




  1. I was born 1946 in SC. I will readily admit that most, but not all, blacks were not treated the same as other white folks. We had laws and rules that contributed to that but many whites broke the rules. That would include my large family.. over 100 first cousins, mostly dirt farmers who suffered the same plight as other black farmers. Sharecroppers were common. They all got the same pay, ate the same food, everyone got along fine and treated each other with respect.

    The laws, and customs were the biggest culprit even though some bad attitudes and opinions about blacks were prevalent in some areas. Those laws could have been slowly changed and it would have worked much better than forced integration during the Civil Rights era.

    I left SC in 1967, courtesy of the armed forces, so I was not there to witness the evolution of black thugs and street gangs, but they did even exist when I left. I was sheltered from all of that for 4 years during the VN conflict. Something happened during those 4 years that radically changed race relations but race was never an issue while I was in except for the night MLK was shot. I was the only white boy in our living quarters but I knew all of the black guys. We lived and ate together. Their music was our recreation. F0r the first time I felt uncomfortable and eased off to my private room and locked the door.

    This a very brief sketch of my race experience.

  2. Jordan, my father in law who is a little older than you served 3 tours in Vietnam he is the oldest of 8 kids and grew up as a sharecropper near Aiken South Carolina. One thing you mentioned and it is something that is little talked about except in some Black families was that as you said the relations between Blacks and Whites were good.

    He went to an integrated school in his small town before the 1955 Brown ruling, without any issues. Yes they were some Whites that got out of line as you mentioned but as they were all sharecroppers their lives were very much alike.

    Before he passed, I spoke and visited Poppy Thomas as everyone called him, and we talked many times. His father had been a slave and I was curious about it, and about his life as a sharecropper. Two things he said always struck me as odd, he said to me that his life was harder in the North, and he blamed the Civil Rights movement for screwing up Blacks. That was why he had come back South and bought some of the land he use to work as a sharecropper to retire on.

    I tried to ask my father in law what his father meant, he told me that his father always felt out of place in New York, he did not like how the Blacks looked at him as below them, and the pity some Whites had for them, he was a very proud man.

    As for the families comment my father in law explained that they had grown up believing in having a large family and staying together until it was time for you to start your own family. His was father was very disapproving at how some of his cousins did not value family anymore, had many kids with different man or women. It got so bad that he stopped going to the family reunions for that reason.

    • Very interesting. NO ONE wants to talk about the harmony that existed during my formative years in SC. That would negate the BGI contention that race relations have always been bad everywhere.

      When I tell others about my experiences on a sharecropper’s farm (he was my uncle) people are skeptical and then when I blame the Civil Rights movement for what has happened, they think I am nuts.

      As my generation dies out, the truth may also die out, unless someone has documented that era.

      I will add that a contributor was that the races depended on each other. During tobacco season, everyone had one day each week to crop the stuff. It was backbreaking work. So those from other farms helped the one on his day to crop.
      It was rotated, but it was not just tobacco. It was everything from fixing equipment to sharing food from the gardens.

      I knew someone just like Poppy. He had about a dozen children but he was a great, wise man.

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