07-07-2020  12:17 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Maxine Fitzpatrick
Maxine Fitzpatrick
Published: 29 June 2020

Black Americans are riddled with needless institutionalized barriers to success in virtually every aspect of our lives. These challenges are not merely inconveniences, they significantly impact our health, financial wellbeing, and the air we breathe.

Wealth in the average Black family is noted to be 10% of what it is for the average White family. And, COVID-19 has made it abundantly clear that similar health disparities exist.

Black Americans have solutions for those inequalities and disadvantages, the problem is we have to secure approval of the solutions from the people who deny the problem's existence while reaping the benefits from it.

We won't address and enact real change until White America listens to Black Americans experiencing the worst effects of racism.

As I listen, watch and read the constant flood of soul-crushing reports--Covid-19 deaths, police killings, poverty--I think intensely and loudly talk back in reaction to the largely ahistorical and nonsensical commentaries by pundits and some elected officials.

Today, my responsive thoughts and verbal responses center on solutions to the problem of systemic racism and abuse. Actually, it is about the subsequent exploitation Black people have experienced for 400 years - all while neglecting our historic and indispensable contributions to America.

Our words are misrepresented

I listen to the media and mostly majority race politicians constantly misrepresenting the words that are literally "coming out of our mouths" about what we need to survive and thrive. I hear the distorting of our requests and demands for the recognition of our right to human dignity and even life by journalists who act as though their purpose is to misinterpret our resolve.

And I wonder why. Is the corporate media's objective to minimally maintain the status quo of White privilege and dominance? Why would the benefiting group want to change an outcome and put themselves in a place where they perceive they will no longer be the main beneficiary?

Black people are not in our current state of disproportionate poverty and poor health because we want to be. Black people struggle every day to live the best lives possible. Achieving success is something we are quite capable of doing if there were not an ongoing, insidious and often times blatant abusive system in place to undermine and prevent the accomplishment of our goals of physical wellness and financial prosperity. We are quite capable, actually tremendously capable, of accomplishing the American Dream.

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We also know what we need to succeed--unobstructed access to all America has to offer. Which is what we have articulated quite clearly.

I have invested my life's work into the creation and provision of quality, affordable housing for lower-income families in order to use a process recognized as the most advantageous path to wealth for average Americans.

When it comes to this process I, like many Black people, have answers. I have answers to problems never presented by the majority population. But when Black people like me offer solutions, we run into the same roadblocks of the majority's denial, and even when the majority concedes change is needed, it undermines or rejects the original proposals.

Solutions come from life experiences

As I think about why I have answers to the Black community's housing issues -I reflect on how and from whom most of the answers originated.

There's an old adage that says "those closest to the problem are closest to the solution".

When I started out with a goal to build/rebuild wealth in low-income Black families via affordable housing opportunities- I first drew from my personal life experiences. I thought about how I grew up, where I grew up, what kind of home I lived in, the neighborhood I lived in - who lived in my neighborhood, my neighborhood friends, their families, and my relative families.

While working in the affordable rental housing industry -I spoke with residents regularly. Their problem-solving capacity for determining solutions to their problems never ceased to amaze me. I always asked residents what they needed and discovered early on how and where to effectively get them what they required. Then, I observed them as they thrived.

This brings me to my point - if the Black people are the ones experiencing the problems of overwhelming poverty and poor health - they have the answers to how best address and resolve those problems. Why is it, when Black people recommend solutions to the problems hindering their viability, their solutions must be filtered through and approved by those who do not themselves experience the problem? What expertise could people who have had unearned opportunities thrown at them and who are committed to hoarding them, contribute to the struggle of those being denied the privileges?

The math is easy. None.

The historical role of slavery cannot be disregarded

Indeed, consider America's opportunity approval committee is benefiting from their meager existence and disadvantaged conditions. We cannot disregard the historical role slavery played in the wealth accumulation of White Americans.

Why do Black American's solutions require screening and approval of an inexperienced White population?

The White population has not lived this experience, and it is not living the Black experience today.

Black Americans have institutionalized challenges and Black Americans offer solutions. Yet, Black Americans have to convince those who benefit the most from the unearned privileges historically awarded, and who stand to gain the most from the status quo. Can Black Americans expect the majority population's support of our solutions - solutions that may alleviate unearned disadvantages?

Think about this - we have to convince the very people who have benefited from the 400 years of racist mistreatment of Black people, to endorse and support our recommended solutions to end the abuse.

How do we convince the ruling class to accept solutions to systemic racism and all that comes with it, if it is in their interest to not know or to deny the system that bestows them with unearned rewards? Who does not know about the Black experience? It is known, yet it is insidiously avoided because of its ongoing financial benefit.

How will Black Americans ever be able to convince the majority leadership to accept our solutions - if they believe the solutions have the capacity to potentially diminish their benefits, while often denying the existence of our benefits in the first place? I suspect it is believed that our betterment will take from the majority population's wealth and prosperity. Due to this logic, their life experience and desire to maintain the greater control-- the need to make Black lives better does not exist in their mindset as a ruling class. Strangely, their approval, although necessary, is not premised in our reality nor is it something they want to do.

When people experience pain, they know how to avoid it the next time and in the future.

We have solutions-- Black people are problem solvers, the best.

I have a dilemma and I can tell you what I need, I can tell you how I feel and most importantly, I can tell you what can be done to resolve it.

Speaking superficially of the conditions of poverty, poor health and false resolutions that many Black Americans have had to resort to--they do so to quell their inability to rise to their potential. It happens in other ways, harmful ways such as righteous rage, despair and modified hopes. How can we as a Black population advance righteously to our self-determined, recommended pathways to improve our health and wealth?

Black people are closest to the problems and Black people are closest to the solutions. White people should trust, respect and listen to Black Americans as they do and benefit from their trust in most Black athletes and prestigious Black intellectuals with extraordinary business acumen.

How do Black Americans avoid our disadvantaged existence, and move on to what can surely be a rapid gain? We have the answers.

And in our answers is a truth and that truth is - when we do better, the world does better.

America has not experienced the greatness it could have had - America's true greatness is still out there waiting for an opportunity to come to fruition. It is stated that we are a great nation; the greatest in the world. I hypothesize we have much more greatness to gain. Avoiding the demise and defining the solutions for Black inequality cannot be constructed by anyone other than Black Americans--the harmed population. The sooner the majority rule population comes to this reality - the sooner America will rise to its yet to be defined greatness.

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