“Equality” as a concept within American society has always been exaggerated. The truth of the matter is that disparities among people will always exist. An individual is not even “equal” to himself on consecutive days. Children born to the same parents, who live under the same roof, with the same care and same values, often end up having unequal outcomes.
A puzzling enigma of the modern age is figuring out why those disparities exist in the way that they do. Many would like to attribute these disparities to systemic inequalities and racial prejudices. However, aside from race, are there other unexamined factors contributing to these disparities?
Following the American Civil Rights movement, “equality” has been a common term used by black Americans in racial justice activism in the United States. Since that era, black Americans continue to strive for “equality” in all facets of American society.
This ideology that black Americans are not “equal” to white Americans has been re-emphasized within my lifetime through the public school system, politics, the media, and socially within the American black race subculture. Despite numerous policy changes that have taken place in this nation to rectify the injustices suffered by black Americans prior to the Civil Rights era, “equality” still seems to be what blacks are in search of in 2023.
Nonetheless, historical facts illustrates that the fight for “equality” proved to be to the detriment of black Americans by solidifying their position as a permanent subordinate class in the American power structure. This unhealthy fixation with “equality” is directly taken out of the Marxist playbook.
The Fixation With “Equality” Is Consequence of Failed Policies of the Civil Rights Movement
Here are some questions to ponder. Did the Civil Rights movement succeed if black Americans continue to believe the disparities they currently experience is solely because of racial discrimination? What exactly did the Civil Rights movement accomplish and why is it romanticized by generations of blacks who came after it if they claim to have the same battles in 2023 as their parents and grandparents had decades ago?
There is ample evidence that Dr. King was radicalized after witnessing the failures of the Civil Rights movement. While reflecting on the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act, Dr. King was of the opinion that the passage of those laws did very little to improve the lives of millions of black Americans. Furthermore, he noted that the changes that occurred from 1955 to 1965 were superficial changes that were not impactful.
Dr. King further clarified that his idea of integration was left unfulfilled. He noted in a speech that “integration is meaningless without the sharing of power.” In reference to integration, Dr. King said that he doesn’t “mean the romantic mixing of colors, [but he] mean[s] a real sharing of power of responsibility.” He added that “we integrated hotels and motels, but… integrated hotels and motels don’t mean much if you don’t earn enough money to take a vacation.”
Dr. King’s disappointment with the outcomes of the Civil Rights movement was worsened after the failures of the SCLC’s Chicago Freedom Movement. Much of his rhetoric began to shift from social equality to economic equality. He began to argue for a redistribution of economic power and believed that the plight of the poor was as a result of the economic system. He believed that the system itself was faulty and not the men who manage it. After trips to Scandinavian countries with Andrew Young, Dr. King began to adopt democratic socialist policies as solutions to the problems he witnessed within in America.
He started to speak about the fundamental redistribution of wealth and power, a guaranteed income, universal healthcare, more affirmative action programs and a more equitable tax system. He believed that his vision of America would arrive through democratic socialism as an alternative to capitalism. Although he was not completely in line with Marxist thought, Dr. King agreed with the Marxist viewpoint that the “weakness of traditional capitalism contributed to the growth of a definite self-consciousness in the masses.”
Furthermore, King saw democratic socialism as the ideology that that aligned most a Christian viewpoint of society. In looking at the ideological transition of thought that Dr. King underwent towards the final period of his life, there is no doubt that he became radicalized. This is similar ideology that we are witnessing in America today with the policies of the Democratic Party and movements such as Black Lives Matter.
The Empty Idea of “Equality”
In a capitalist nation where competition is king, the quest for “equality” becomes obsolete. Many would agree that one of the important victories under the Civil Rights movement was the pursuit of equality for all under the law; however, the current problems common among black Americans have little to do with equality under the law. Furthermore, many of these problems would possibly be minimal, if not obsolete, if the focus of the Civil Rights movement had shifted from a focus on equality to a focus on equal opportunities.
Instead of seeking to be equal or on par with whites, the movement should have focused on fortifying the future through competitive efforts. Necessity breeds innovation, and racial chaos and unequal treatment that black Americans faced in the Jim Crow era bred strong families, strong communities, and a strong economic base in predominately black communities.
Sixty years later, the black family, black community, and community economic base are shells of themselves. The Civil Rights era represented the zenith of collective black achievement in America, but decades later, black Americans have been freefalling toward the bottom.
In hindsight, the overarching goal of being perceived as equals brought about the failures we are experiencing in this nation today. In an economy that thrives off of competition, being discriminatory comes at a cost that many businesses do not want to pay. For example, Major League Baseball (MLB) was once strictly for white baseball players only. If Jackie Robinson never “integrated” and remained within the Negro League, the Negro League would have been a formidable competitor to the MLB and taken away immense revenue from the MLB.
Perhaps it is time for us to shift the discourse on the disparities by examining and understanding these disparities without the racial lens. Would we notice that these disparities exist because of the different habits people possess? Could it be that cultural patterns are contributing to the disparities? Perhaps we should be honest with ourselves, and understand that maybe the disparities in our society are not based on the color of our skin, but rather on cultural behaviors and patterns.
The racial discourse in America is heavily focused on the social and economic gaps between black and white Americans. These gaps are always attributed to remnants of historical racism faced by black Americans. Interestingly, white Americans are not even at the top of those economic and social statistics. However, black Americans are constantly compared to white Americans. This begs the question of why whites Americans are used as a comparison tool for the success of black Americans?
If the United States was a competitive league, comparing and contrasting the level of success of different races, Asians would lead the league in numerous statistical categories that define success in this country. Asians have the highest educational attainment rate, the lowest divorce rate, the highest marriage rate, the least number of children born out of wedlock, the highest rate of children born to married parents, possess the most wealth out of all races and are the least convicted of crime.
If the gap between black and Asian educational attainment, marriage rates, and income were discussed more, we could possibly have a better understanding why such gaps exist. The overindulgence of equality breeds stagnancy and stymies the progress of a group. This is what we are currently witnessing in the United States among “minority groups,” because of movements that fight for “equality” through superficial social comparisons rather than focusing on excellence.
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