The major stumbling blocks to a final resolution of the race issue in this country are the men and women sworn to uphold the laws of the land. Over the years, the police departments have never been able to come to grips with the obvious fact that Black Americans should be treated in the same manner as all other groups in the country. During the terrible years of slavery and the equally disgusting years of apartheid up to just a couple weeks ago in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York, as well as Los Angeles, California, Oakland, California and San Antonio, Texas, individual officers have behaved like bullies with guns. In all these cases, their targeted groups are young Black men. They have always been the recipients of law enforcement’s need to practice violence on someone.
During the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rhetorically asked, “How Long,” and answered “Not Long.” He was preaching to the white establishment, admonishing them that Black America’s patience was running thin, and serious changes had to be made. Today, the younger generation is delivering the same rhetorical message with a different slant. They are also asking “How Long,” but their answer is “No Longer.” Too much time has passed without a final end in sight and they are not patient like the generations before them.
They are very much aware that the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to bring freedom and equality and it didn’t. They are very much aware that when their ancestors fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam War, that would bring an end to the lynching and police brutality against their people and that did not happen. They are very much aware that the Civil Rights Movement was supposed to help open the doors to economic equality and that did not happen for everyone. They know the jobs are not coming to their communities but the police still are. They know that six years of the Obama Administration has not altered their permanent and historical position of poverty in the richest country in the world. They know that an eighteen year old young man is not supposed to get shot six times, twice in the head and left lying in the middle of the street for over four hours.
Because they know all these things, they chose to confront life instead of enjoy it. They cannot value a college degree until the entire country values their worth and their right to exist just as it does for other races. The young people are correct in that these racial issues have festered like “a raisin in the sun” far too long. This country must be made to understand that the conditions in our central cities cannot continue on their present course. It is long past due for all of us to reflect on James Baldwin’s prophecy back in 1963,
“God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time.”
Quote taken from James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time,