Black Economics paper from past to present
Brandon R Addison
Old Dominion University
Black Economics is essential to American history, and explains the economic gains this country has been blessed then and now! As a people African Americans have been deprived of equal opportunity repeatedly. The deprivation of African Americans began when the whites were first brought to the United States. The whites who had brought them over to the states had a plan to gain economic wealth. That plan was slavery; slavery allowed the slave owners to sell goods such as cotton without having to pay for the labor. This is how America became wealthy, virtually off of the free labor of African Americans. Unfortunately even after slavery was over the deprivation continued. At the start of the 1900’s American and the black economy still was centered in the South around cotton. Blacks were no longer slaves. Most of them had become tenant farmers through contracts and institutional arrangements. Tennant farmers rented land and tools from a white property owner and at the end of the growing season would have to give a portion of the harvested crops to the owner of the land, or give the property owner majority of the income they had made in the season. As slaves found out that life in the south wasn’t meant to be they began moving north in 1916. Where the Industrial Movement had begun between. Jobs were now open in the North where it wasn’t as racist historically. When slaves arrived they found themselves in overpopulated ghettos due to lack of income. They fought for jobs with European immigrants. Jobs were limited in the North due to lack of education of African Americans they simply couldn’t do some jobs because they didn’t know how. Another reason why work was limited was because some companies wouldn’t hire blacks due to skin color especially in the auto industry, most of the companies wouldn’t hire blacks besides Ford automotive. However some aspects of economics did get better up North. Blacks were usually given the same wage as the white workers for the same. There wasn’t discrimination in pay, but there was some when it came down to getting the job over a white man.
After the Urbanization movement comes the Civil Right Movement. In this movement blacks began fighting for equality in all aspects of the American lives. The quota before the civil rights movement was “Separate but equal”, however separate yes, but equal no! The blacks and whites in the country were not treated the same. For instance blacks had to sit in the back of the bus, or if they went out to eat they would have sit in a black section which was definitely not equivalent to the whites section. They even had to use different bathrooms. During the Civil Rights Movement blacks focused not only on equality but also breaking the color line. Showing everybody that as a culture they could do it. Do what? Be the first to do it as a black to open up doors for those that would come after them. That is what Martin Luther King fought for. He essentially gave his life for young blacks to have more opportunity in America. This is why during this period you see an increase in blacks going to college. You also see in an increase in black education with the emergence of black universities. The opening of these universities opened up opportunity for African Americans in the economy now. Being a professor was a great profession, they not only helped groom young black minds, they also got paid well enough to live.
The Civil Rights Movement is important in all aspect of black history including black economics. However there were movements that led up to the civil rights movement that helped. These movement were the freedom of speech movement, black power movement then the civil rights movement. The “Freedom of Speech Movement” started on the University of California, Berkely where the students, white and black that were against the war on Vietnam. The Black Power movement was primarily focused on the empowering of the black people as a whole. The uplifting of the community brought a sense of community and a much larger voice than one person could’ve. The Black power movement gave African Americans more pride in there race. Giving them more confidence and will power to go after occupations they thought they couldn’t get before. The leaders of the Black Power movement also realized the deprivation of blacks in economics and began making it known to the public. Trying to create more jobs, the awareness did help not only with getting jobs but also with white universities beginning to open there eyes and developing African American Study classes. This is important to me because I feel as if it gave blacks more confidence in the supposedly “white” universities and helped them to get better jobs also.
Problems for African American have always been relevant. When dealing with economics you cans see that there are plenty of African American under the poverty line. Blacks have struggled with poverty since they’ve been free. In the past due to lack of education, but that isn’t longer the reason why blacks are under the poverty line. As discussed before African American’s began valuing education immensely during the 1900’s especially during the civil rights movement. Today the problem seem to be either lack of opportunity in corporate America or being born into poverty, and keeping that poverty like mind set.
This brings problems within the African American community because when you’re under the poverty it’s harder to get better opportunities for your children. For instances if a family is poor they probably live in a tough neighborhood which can be a distraction in one by itself to a minor. But the biggest problem comes when they’re zoned for school. Living in a poor neighborhood will most likely land there child and a poor school district which can impact a child’s education. And if they don’t get a chance at higher education the cycle will just continue and blacks will continue to stay under the poverty line. This not only hurts blacks in present day economics and the future but also hurts America as an entire entity. With minorities under the poverty line they allotted assistance from the government through Medicare. Medicare comes from American tax money and the more people on Medicare the less that text money is being used for bettering our society. This isn’t only important for the black economy but Americas economy.
In this research paper I analyzed a variety of different things to put it all together. My original thought process at the beginning of the semester when I got my topic was to talk about which African Americans were the first to be wealthy and how they became wealthy. However during class discussions I began to realize that’s not what this paper should be about. Because majority of our class discussions were not based a select few of African American, also majority of the time in the class we talked about how African Americans had been rejected their rights from the beginning of slavery. That’s why I decided to talk about the poverty line instead. It seem to me that that’s a more important aspect to focus on, because more people are affected by poverty; not only today also in the past. A majority of my paper was written off of prior knowledge due to our class discussion. Of course I looked at the sources that I found but the bottom line was all I needed to know was already taught to me by my professor. The most important source was the book in our reading the pages from “The Perpetuation of the Black Underclass.” My education about Medicare and the poverty line came from prior knowledge due to my Political Science class last year, in which I wrote a research paper on the working class of America.
The problem with Black economics are simple. Some of the problems comer from society having to adapt to not paying attention to skin color rather than qualities. Should simply be about who can get the job done. Some of the problems come from within the African American community. A sense of entitlement is sometimes present in our youth today. Partly due to what slavery has done to the African American as a culture, however entitlement isn’t a characteristic our ancestors had. As stated above in the 1960 during a time of elevated racial tension they didn’t sit around and wait they went and took what they wanted. If those two problems can be fix I believe the problems of blacks being under the poverty line can be fixed, however it will take time. Just like it has taken time for us to climb into the upper class it will take and persistence to lower poverty as a culture.
When I first was stuck with the topic Black Economics I wasn’t sure to right about. I was really stressed about this topic, but it all began to hit me when we started talking about how slavery has affected our community today and how it built America. That’s when I realized the work of my people built the economy of this great country. After understanding that it changed how I felt about the topic. I now understood how blacks were important to American society not only in Economics but even in Entertainment, science, and many other things. The thing that amazed me most was the fact that they made such an impact on a country that was against them. It feels good today to understand the past of African Americans it gives me more drive and passion to learn more and help this country in any way I can.
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