Society isn’t living up to its promises. I was told that if you go to school, get your college education, you will be rewarded with a good job. I’ve done all of those things and I have yet to receive my reward. I worked hard in college. I maintained a job and involved my self in many community services and student organizations while attending college. My reward? Forty thousand dollars in student loans, seven thousand dollars in credit card debt, a Bachelors degree and jobless.
If it wasn’t for my mother I wouldn’t have the basic necessities. If it wasn’t for my sister, I wouldn’t have the material things. I’m living off of women that are struggling themselves to pay the bills and live a comfortable life. It’s not fun living as a dependent adult. This, however, is my reality. Educational attainment means nothing without an income. I am worse off now as a college graduate. Before college, I had a job and I was debt free. Did society mislead me?
I was supposed to be a different story; A child from the inner-city survive the streets, champions education, and earns a college degree. The ending was supposed to be a career. But my ending is reality: Society promotes lies to get individuals to invest in a system that cannot offer rewards. If that isn’t the truth, then it sure seems that way.
What gets me is I add to the statistics; another unemployed African-American. College was supposed to be my way out of the inner-city. The people here are depressed. They work hard only to receive scrap pay. They live in subsidized housing and they can barely afford to pay the hugely discounted rent. My mother is on section 8 and she wants nothing more than to come off of it but she can’t afford to do so. After college I was supposed to come home, get a good paying job, and alleviate the burden from my mother’s shoulder. But I can’t contribute anything.
Everyday when I am walking, I witness unemployment. They’re on the porch, on the street corner, or exiting the unemployment office. They look depressed. The black community is in a depression. I hoped that education was the key to success but it wasn’t. Education is the key to debt.
With this bitterness, I still will not give up on myself. But their are many people who already have given up.
I hate to be called by a color. By societal standards Black is what I am. It describes me, it represents me, and it is me. I am identified first by my color. Then after my color, I am defined by the stereotypes of Blackness. I am made to speak for blackness, to explain blackness, and to be the symbol of blackness when no other black is around. I am lastly, if ever identified as me.
When I entered college there were a lot of whites that wanted to know blackness. They had their stereotypes and I was constantly bombarded to explain their ideas of blackness. Their ideas of what black people are were embedded in years of inherited racism. Although they may not have been racist themselves, their families at some point were and their ancestral racism developed into socially tolerable stereotypes. It’s annoying to have to explain blackness that I may not even identify with. It’s annoying to be given the position of advocate to blackness without consent. I can only represent me but whites do not understand.
Why do I have to be a color. Better yet, why can’t I just be American instead of half, hyphenated American (i.e. African-American). Black is devoid of color; it’s absent on the color spectrum. Black is always associated with everything bad. For instance blackmail or black cat that represents bad luck. But then again, black represents power and strength. For instance a black hole: an area of space-time with a gravitational field so intense that its escape velocity is equal to or exceeds the speed of light.
But with that being said, I’d rather not be identified as a color but a person. And anyway, they say black but our skin color says otherwise. Call me Magnus, identify me as Magnus, I am Magnus.
Yesterday a childhood friend of mine was arrested. The rest of his young life will be spent behind the chains that our ancestors fought to free themselves of. He was engaged in activities that are against the laws of the nation but the laws of the streets have no boundaries for survival. His crime? Supplying “pharmaceuticals” to the teachers, lawyers, and suburbanites. Yes, the “whites” come to the streets to get high.
Now my childhood friend is another statistic and another number in the
slave prison system. He will have his number stamped on him just like the Jewish people in Hitler’s internment camps. What does the American prison systems and Hitler’s concentration camps have in common? They dehumanize people! Their parents assign them names and the prison’s strip them of that humanness and call them “inmate number…”
My childhood friend, however, was aware of the consequences of distributing narcotics. But he took his chances. Was it his disobedience for the law? Was it his inability to survive in a society that fosters innumerable marginalization and stigmatization on black males? Was it because he didn’t want to work hard and wanted things the easy way? Only he knows.
African-American males make 900,000 of the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated. The war on drugs can be to blame for this. For those of you that don’t know, the majority of African-American men are imprisoned due to selling drugs. When Nixon declared war on drugs he was in effect going to war with African-American males. The drug laws, such as the Rockefeller Drug laws, have its biases. It targets narcotics that are primarily distributed by African-Americans and punishes them with the harshest prison sentences; at least seven years in prison. Even though whites distribute narcotics to the same degree as African-Americans, because of white privilege and the difference in the narcotics they distribute, their punishments pale in comparison.
Who’s to blame for this problem? The United States Government? They seem to target blacks from its inception. They initially didn’t want blacks to be free anyway. Is it the environment? African-Americans in the inner-city like to drive the nicest cars, wear the latest Jordans, and rock the most expensive fashions. The easiest way to attain that fly guy status is to sell drugs. Is it society? Still in 2011 society have its biases and prejudices towards African Americans. African-American males make up 17.5% of the unemployed and the teenage males account for nearly 41%.
I blame my childhood friend for where he is today. We had the same history, past, but our present became our separator. But I do feel that other forces are responsible for his fate.
I was well into my teens when I realized that in every inner-city I visited there are streets and neighborhoods named after prominent African American leaders. It is always an amazing tribute to have something in memorial that every person can celebrate. However, I don’t think these leaders would be so pleased if they saw the streets and neighborhoods their names represent. For instance, where I am from, there is this street called Rosa Parks Boulevard. The neighborhood wreaks of crime and grime. And this is true for many inner-cities across this nation. In addition, the poor representation doesn’t end with the neighborhoods; the schools named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X, are in poor conditions and contain low student academic achievements.
Thus, my intentions are to bring the conditions of the African American community to the attention of African Americans everywhere: this includes the regular working, middle, and upper class, the entertainers, the politicians, the leaders, and everyone in between. African Americans fought so hard to have near equality, justice, and respect from our country but it’s waning. The marches of Dr. King, the wrongful imprisonment, the abuse, the burning of churches, the struggles that thousands of people endured for justice seems to mean nothing to our community. If we respected our leaders, Rosa Parks Boulevard wouldn’t be crime filled but a respectable and thriving community.
Where I am from, there is no progress; conditions are becoming worse as I speak and lives are being lost more quickly than I can exhale. And it is us who are killing ourselves. I hope that I can bring some type of change for the better. So I’m saying this in advance: Pardon me if I step on a few toes.