African Americans: A Look in the Mirror, Part 2
by Bret Searles
ďFor if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.Ē
The black community has many success stories. Condoleeza Rice, PhD is the National Security Advisor and Colin Powell is the Secretary of State to the current U.S. president. Thurgood Marshall was a judicial giant on the U.S. Supreme Court fighting for greater liberty and against injustice. Bob Johnson, founder and former CEO of Black Entertainment Television and Oprah Winfrey, television talk show host, producer and CEO of Harpo Productions have been bright and shining examples of what African Americans are capable of achieving.
Not everyone can do what these people did but we can look to their example of perseverance and triumph against long odds. Some of the greatest role models overcame abject poverty, racism, child abuse and neglect. They had excess baggage they had to shed to get to their respective goals. The book, The 7 Simple Secrets to Building Wealth: An African Americanís Guide to Wealth Building in the 21st Century and Beyond, will give you some strategies you can use immediately to more elegantly overcome your personal challenges and confidently reach your goals.
On the other hand, the statistics show that our success stories are far outnumbered by the cold reality that our people are in a struggle for survival. We have a growing middle class of African Americans that are becoming increasingly separated from the rest of black America based on education, income stability and family life. As some African Americans push ahead, many are falling further behind creating an inequity between the two.
Only 13.6% of African Americans reported an annual income over $50,000 according to recent census data. That compares to 27.5% of whites reporting annual income over $50,000. We have only half the percentage of high income earners then whites do. We have twice the high school drop out rate as whites. Also, 16.5% of African Americans get a college degree versus 28.1% of whites. 32.5% of African Americans are married compared to 56.8% of whites. Finally, 44% of African American families are headed by single moms compared to only 12.7% of white families that are headed by single moms. We have an amazingly uphill battle but we must look even more closely before we can get to our solutions.
African Americans make up 13% of the population while African American men make up 66% of the prison population. Based on Justice Department crime statistics, racial differences exist, with African Americans disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders. African Americans have the highest violent crime victimization rates then any other group. We are six times more likely then whites to be murdered. We are seven times more likely then whites to commit homicide. And the majority of murders are intraracial. African Americans killed a whopping 94% of African American murder victims.
Furthermore, the Justice Department goes to report that based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of African American males will enter state or federal prison during their lifetime; whites (5.9%). These are depressing figures.
The family is the place where these statistics will be turned around. Respect for life, discipline, hard work and respect for women are lessons and values that young Black boys learn best from their dads. They learn from our words, our example and through the leadership we provide in the home.
If we fail in this, our greatest responsibility, we will fail an entire generation that fought to secure our freedoms so we could realize our full potential. We will put on the chains of the slavery of poverty, prison and lack of purpose without a whimper of resistance.
The second preliminary step we need to make is taking personal responsibility for our lives and that of our families. The only way we can begin to shape the future and change our destinies is to accept our present circumstances as a fluid and temporal reality that can be changed and is never permanent however, very real, so we must take action to affect our reality.
We sometimes live as if our situation was imposed on us against our will and that we are powerless to resist. Years of conditioning make it understandable why some feel that way. The challenge is recognizing that these challenging situations and problems are truly temporary and changeable. We also want to experience the good times with greater intensity and more lasting effect. This book will provide you with strategies to do all this and will help you to view your circumstances in whatever way serves you most in getting you to your desired goals.
Youíll find that we donít need a new leader to lead us; what we need are new leadership skills. We need an infusion of leadership at all levels in the black community and our nation needs it as well. We need African American leaders in every corner of our nation. We need African American leaders in both the Democrat and Republican parties. We need African American leaders in business and government. We need more leaders in the family and in the community. African Americans must adopt new ideas and new thought patterns that our ancestors didnít have the luxury to adopt in order to advance in the new economy. With all the sad statistics mentioned here, we are still standing here today at this time in history. Our country has needed us on many occasions. Even oppressed, African Americans helped build this country, fight itís wars and turn the tide to victory from defeat. God has a plan for America and we are an integral part of His plan for this country. More people are free around the world today because of this nation and our struggle is an example to many of the oppressed in the world of what a united, determined people can achieve.
Entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking the last chains to keep us from living out our true purpose and to become who we really are as a people. This generation of African Americans needs to tap into the power of entrepreneurship to create the kind of wealth that will truly set us free. We need to develop the required skill sets necessary for success as leaders in 21st century business. These skills truly are timeless and have been used throughout time by the captains of industry.
These skills were surely mastered by the ancient Egyptians when they built an advanced civilization and the great pyramids that cannot be replicated by any of the engineers and architects of this age. In this age, these skills are now more necessary then ever. The social experiment of communism has failed. Government cannot solve all the problems that ail people. There is no reason we should fall prey to the temptation to seek solutions to our problems from our government. Our government is extraordinarily wealthy and so is our society. The rewards go to those that provide the most service with the most value in our society. No law, regulation or tax has been able to change that. Now that our economy is switching from an industrial age economy to an information age economy, all the old rules are quickly becoming obsolete.
Failure of African Americans to adapt to this shift is economic suicide especially at a time when itís never been easier to start a business, turn a profit and live free. Knowledge and application of the necessary skills in your entrepreneurial enterprise or at work will tilt the odds of financial security and lasting wealth in your favor despite your current station in life today. The statistics presented show us how much work we have to do. We have always had leaders stand up at our point of greatest need throughout history. The statistics canít tell you who they are, where they will come from or what the leaders of the 21st century will be able to accomplish but with history as our guide, we can count on it that they will change this world for the better. The only question I have for you is ĎAre you that leader?í