The 10 Most Pressing Issues Facing 21st Century African Americans

The 10 Most Pressing Issues Facing 21st Century African Americans

African Americans still face a litany of problems in the 21st century. Despite gains since the end of World War II, especially the eradication of racial segregation (known as Jim Crow), serious economic, social and political issues persist in the community.

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Brown vs. Board of Education began the change in 1954. This Supreme Court ruling pronounced racially segregated schools unconstitutional. Unhappy with the subsequent slow pace of change, African Americans took to the streets from the late-1950s through the 1960s, led by Martin Luther, King, Jr, Stokely Carmichael, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer and others. By the time of Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, the Black Power Movements had emerged, calling for immediate political and economic equality. The government responded partly by creating affirmative actions plans provide some in the race with a leg up in college admissions, employment and other life situations. However, the nation turned away from these initiatives in what many refer today as a “post-racial America,” where race does not matter supposedly.

Yet, the election of Barack Obama, and other symbols of colorblindness, have not solved these ten problems that still plague African Americans in the 21st Century.

1. Mass Incarceration
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with over 1.6 million dwelling in prisons. Of this number, a disportionate amount are African Americans. who are so prevalent in this prison population that on any day, a male with no degree is more likely in jail than working. Many legal scholars refer to this high incarceration rate among African Americans as a new form of Jim Crow segregation, in which minorities head from high school to prison on a veritable pipeline.

2. Gang Violence
In the wake of the Black Power movement arose the era of inner-city gangs. These violent groups helped fill a leadership void among a dispossessed people. Today, criminal gangs have spread throughout the country and into the prisons.

3. Poverty
One central goal of the Civil Rights Movement was black economic empowerment. Nevertheless, millions of African Americans still live mired in poverty, susceptible to poor living conditions in underserved inner-cities.

4. Drugs
The War on Drugs, which began in the 1980s, is a leading cause of the high rate of incarceration among African Americans, especially males.

5. Voting Rights
The 2000 election in Florida highlighted the belief that African Americans still face problems voting, despite the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Numerous claims of being asked for identification, confused with convicted felons, and other discrepancies led to calls for reform.

6. Education
In the 1980s, affirmative action had largely equalized college attendance among African Americans and others. Since then, attacks on this policy, which provided some minorities with preference in admissions, has eviscerated these gains in certain states.

7. Single Parent Households
Today, with African American males disproportionately incarcerated, many single women face the burden of raising children alone.

8. Unemployment
the African American unemployment rate generally doubles that of the population as a whole, demonstrating pronounced difficulties providing for families and accumulating wealth.

9. Police Brutality
A slew of high-profile, questionable deaths involving police have led to a “Black Lives Matter” movement, the criminal indictment of some officers and urban riots.

10. Systemic Racism
looming large over all problems in the African American community is systemic racism. First enunciated in detail by political scientist Charles Hamilton and activist Stokely Carmichael, this term refers to the whole edifice of institutions, public and private, that make life in the country harsh for many minorities. Systemic racism differs from personal prejudice in that it remains imperceptible to many.

Millennials face a host of problems, chiefly among them, the ten listed here. Nevertheless, all is not lost. African Americans have overcome slavery and legalized racism to being able to help elect one from the group as Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful nation in world history. When viewed in this context, the future will probably be one of continued progress by a people who have proven their resilience and strength beyond any doubt.