At no time in our history has the African American community’s racial plight been more heard and attended to by the rest of the country. In a recent Monmouth University poll 76 percent of Americans including 71 percent of Whites saw racism and racial discrimination as a major problem in the United States.
The recent activism that included some anger and violence was understood by 57 percent of Americans in the same poll to justified and 21 percent somewhat justified. So, both the fundamental causes and acts of racial discrimination and the response to them played out in the streets have the support of a super-majority of Americans.
This is also visible in the diversity of participants demonstrating against police brutality in the Black community. Nothing approaching this phenomenon has been seen since the people of color in civil rights movements in the second half of the 20th Century agreed with the majority White youth anti-War activists that the draft and the bloody results in Vietnam were unjust.
Yet, even back then, the interests causing the activism of the 1960’s and 70’s were generally separate. The Black and Chicano Movements fought for equal rights and White America generally worked to end the war.
So, where do we go from here? It appears that the Black community has chosen to consolidate its gains by mobilizing its resources and influence to achieve a political victory for the Democratic Party in November.
But what happens to the other part of the 76 percent of Americans that have expressed support to do away with racial injustice? Surely, there are a lot of Republicans, Independents and others left out of the mix.
It is true that Donald Trump has done a terrible job as President and can very well be defeated in November. However, that is more like low-hanging fruit that can begin to repair the damage done to the country, but it may not help to further the process of changing America’s historical attitude on race.
When President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 mandating the end of segregation in the Armed Forces on July 26, 1948 it initiated an attitudinal shift in the American body politics that has allowed for incremental change in the area. Rosa Parks in 1955, Martin Luther King meeting with other Black pastors in Atlanta, Georgia in 1957 to begin a non-violent movement, the freedom riders in 1961, the Poor People’s March on Washington in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 all helped to push this change in an attitude that has been hundreds of years in the making.
The Black community and leadership with the support of the country now has a responsibility to display an attitude of humility in consolidating the approval posture of America. It is well to remember that humility is the virtue of the strong while arrogance and vanity is the weapon of the weak.
I am reminded of a conversation in the 1960’s of Black soldiers seating in a table next to ours in Germany that I noticed as odd. One of the soldiers was trying to convince the others to claim discrimination if they did not get the duty or duty station they wanted.
The point is, now that the Black community has the ear of the American people, there needs to be a process that effectively consolidates these all-important gains. The consolidation process should lead us to greater unity as a nation.