What will America do with 36 million Black Americans now that there is no more cotton to pick? Even in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, Black people are not involved in the planting, growing or harvesting of cotton.
This is now done by white and Latino men and women who drive machines that plant, weed and pick the cotton, as millions of Black men of working age stand idle on street corners.
Black people were brought to America as slaves to pick cotton, tobacco and sugar cane. America’s dilemma today is: what to do with 36 million Black American descendants of slaves who were shipped to American shores 400 years ago for their economic value yet whose heirs today have lost that value?
As the world moves towards science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM), fewer than 50 percent of Black boys graduate from high school in the United States. Many of those who graduate are given diplomas that qualify them for low-wage jobs or no jobs at all, street-corner hustling, incarceration and violent death. At best, the majority of Black students in America get an education that prepares them to only pick cotton – if there were cotton for them to pick.
While Black America laments the disastrously low employment rate of Black males, hundreds of thousands of foreign H-1B Visa workers are imported to the U.S. to take jobs paying $100,000 a year and more. At the same time, many Black males in America who want to work will not be able to get jobs cleaning toilets.
Our Northern cities have grown tired of their Black populations, and America is now “getting out of the Black people business.” Neighborhoods that used to be “Black Belts,” like Harlem in New York City, Bronzeville in Chicago and much of Washington, D.C., have gone upscale, and as a result, most Blacks cannot afford to live there. So it is back to the South for many of them.
If Black America is to survive, these are the five keys to fixing our economic and social problems:
Rebuild the Black family. Every major problem in the Black community, including poor education, massive unemployment, senseless violence, hyper-incarceration, lost spirituality, low-quality housing options and high mortality rates, can be traced to the disintegration of the Black family.
Provide Black boys with strong, positive Black men as mentors, role models and, particularly, a connection to their fathers.
Control the negative peer culture and electronic media that mold many Black boys and men into violent, irresponsible and uncaring human beings. Either Black people will control the media that we consume or the media will control us.
Understand that for the rest of our existence, Black people will live in a “STEMM” world, a world based on science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM). We must teach Black children accordingly.
Control our economic fate by mastering the principles of entrepreneurship, business, management, finance, accounting, manufacturing, saving, investing and banking by teaching these principles to our children.
This is the way, and the only way, to solve the problems of Black people in America. We must realize that we live in an “Educate or Die” society and an “Educate or Die” world! There is no middle ground. There is no more cotton to pick!
Phillip Jackson is founder and executive director of the Black Star Project, 3509 S. King Dr., Chicago, Ill., 60653, (773) 285-9600; Blackstar1000@ameritech.net; www.blackstarproject.org; 773-286-9600.