#SOBU: State of the Black Union

Written in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Read the full text of the President’s remarks here.

It’s become clear that there is still an unfortunate taboo against speaking on current Black issues. When the mainstream refers to the plight of African Americans, all discussions are relegated to the realm of historical whitewashing. Enlightened conversations surrounding the relentless and continual destruction of Black communities are often scoffed at and dismissed as race-baiting. When we demand that non-Black communities recognize the privilege that comes with keeping us locked in the underclass, we’re given the misnomer of “reverse racists.”

Coded language remains rampant in civil discourse. We are no longer outrightly called racial slurs; instead we’re criminals and thugs deserving of death at the hands of law enforcement. The language is persistent and reinforced through tropes aggrandized by well-financed propaganda.

Furthermore, the global Black community has received no empathy or consciousness within the American dynamic. Very few media outlets covered the Nigerian massacre which left 2,000 people dead. Social media was the go-to for raising awareness about the atrocious slaughter. This situation is further troubling given the widespread attention the Charlie Hebdo massacre received.

So tonight and forevermore, I deliver this truth to the global community about the state of Black communities, with the ultimate hope of finding sustainable and racial equitable solutions to ensure a more peaceful and responsive society.

Economic Justice

Without fail, economic inequity is the underpinning of heightened racial tension and discrimination. With wealth disparities widening, economic equity is the root of racial justice. Black Americans have over 1 trillion dollars in purchasing power. This money should be redirected towards Black-owned businesses, and Black innovators and entrepreneurs. Our path for self-determination and overall liberation will be realized when we keep more of our dollars in our own communities.

Criminal Justice

The current criminal justice system is in dire need of repair. Incentives for local and state law enforcement entities to disregard constitutional rights in favor of massive unchecked federal government subsidies, has led to the deterioration of productive police and community relations. These incentives are usually peppered with complicated political lingo. However, it’s vividly clear and adequately documented that these incentives stem from the inappropriate War on Drugs; a national program deliberately designed to impose harsh racial sanctions upon Black and Latino communities.

The War on Drugs and all things politically, economically, and socially affiliated with it, has led to the ominous growth of private prisons. These for-profit enterprises create an inorganic demand for “criminals.” And now, a system hellbent on mass incarceration, provides vicious economic gain for a select number of anonymous individuals.

The inorganic demand for prisoners is a predatory action that is crippling our children. Through the school-to-prison pipeline, young, impressionable students are shuffled out of the classroom and into violent institutions unbefitting of humanity. The school-to-prison pipeline stands in direct violation of a productive and innovative society. As youth are continuously charged with ushering a more responsible nation, their entrapment in the criminal justice system leads to stunted societal growth.

Voting Rights

Underreported, and thus under recognized, is the rollback in voting rights for Black and Latino voters. Under the fictional guise of “voter fraud,” voter suppression laws routinely deny access to polling stations in an effort to curb minority influence in the political and civic process. I’m thankful that the President took the time to bring voting rights to the national forefront.

Educational Access

Black students are attending and graduating from college and university at heightened rates. However, we are disproportionately disadvantaged by student loan debt and low post-graduate employment prospects. This hold on our economic freedom stands in direct confrontation to our ability to self determine a future for ourselves.

Internationalization of Black Rights

Today, the international connection between Black humanity is overwhelmingly ignored. Gratefully, strides have been made to build relationships with the global community. Recently, Black leaders and activists spoke the United Nations to expose the hidden pervasiveness of American police brutality. A few months later, a collective of activists from Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Dream Defenders visited refugee camps in Palestine in a showing of solidarity. These are just two examples of how the Black American community is building connections across country lines to further build a cohesive movement.

This is the State of the Black Union. It is fractured by institutional racism and national apathy. However, the solutions are there, waiting to be tried and tested. Should we take up the charge in building a racially and economically equitable world in which education is prioritized before criminality, then our vision has no option other than to be realized.

photo 1Arielle Newton. Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.


7 responses to “#SOBU: State of the Black Union

  1. Great article, its a bleak picture you painted, but sometimes the truth is bleak. I personally think that the greatest legacy Obama can leave is to be remembered as a great president not a great black president or even worse “THE black president”.


  2. The legacy of Obama should be Great Con-Man…and an even greater corporate, drone-striking, wiretapping, warlord.


  3. Your article almost made me cry it is so well written…

    Obama gave a small nod to CVS in his speech. CVS is linked to Big Pharma. Big Pharma (pharmaceutical industries) wants to mine the ocean for krill (food source for many ocean creatures) and this would be detrimental to the ecology. Our current health care system is not care it is health insurance. The insurance insures we buy into big pharma. Most pharmaceuticals are being released to the public with side effects and the drug addiction rate is higher among prescription pills as legally dosed by doctors… there is no real “care” or “health” in this way of dispensing pills. We are the only country with so many approved pills. The FDA is not really protecting the people. So, Obama can not pretend that he can stand for the EPA while gutting the ocean. He can not stand for viable climate change solutions while getting excited about oil and gas drilling at home, which he clearly thinks can be done with “minimal” impact to the environment.

    He mentioned incarceration rates had come down and this was a weasel move as he rides on the new legalization of marijuana in some states because those cases are now being tossed out of courts. But he didn’t do that work. The local voters did. He’s not addressing the criminal justice system at all when he quotes stats that way.


  4. I used to fall for the lie that we had to see past Race in order to advance as a society. Experience has proven this to be totally false. No amount of goodwill or good intentions can erase the discrepancies that we see everyday in our society. These evils have to be acknowledged and confronted in order to make any true progress. I think that the “post-racial” idea was nothing more than a way for people to feel that injustices had nothing to do with them individually, yet those same people demand the right to judge others who are different on a collective basis. This is hypocrisy at its worst. We cannot rest until there is no one left in poverty or despair that we can turn away from in order to feel better about ourselves, because to do so is to renounce our humanity. Silence and indifference are the same lethal choice in this situation. Refusing to acknowledge the wrongs that have been done, and go on today, indicates compliance at the least and endorsement at the worst.


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