Lamin Sabally, Minneapolis, Minn. – Is America the promised heaven on earth? Have the chilling racial statistics besmirched the tantalizing image of the world’s only super power nation?
Unreservedly, I am an unapologetic proud naturalized American of undiminished Gambian pedigree, admittedly. An infinitesimal proof is I still continue to cautiously chase the American dream of getting higher education, have a decent paying job, and own a big house, a nice flashy car and other material possessions that characteristically translate into a successful American. From a personal perspective though, and deeply engrained in my religious orientation as a Muslim, I hold the unbending conviction that hard work often pays, but this may not always result in successful material possession or amassing to elevate a person to rich, influential and famous status.
The Quran teaches that it is only God who gives wealth and abundance to whom HE chooses without measure. Surat Al ‘ Isra’ – The nigh Journey states: Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, acquainted and seeing. An- Nur – The Light ——–And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account. In surat ‘Al-Ankabut (The Spider), believers are admonished amongst others, to only seek the sustenance from Allah, and worship Him and be grateful to Him; to Him you shall return.
Back in 2008 following his election as the first black president, and while excessively consumed in optimism, I wrote an article titled: The election of Barack Obama as the 1st black president is the beginning of the end of racism in the United States.” Link
In that article published by most of the Gambian-owned online newspapers, I gratifyingly wrote that Senator Obama now President-Elect at the time was credited to have galvanized a lot of people especially the young voters to vote.
I convincingly argued that he had also unbelievably captivated the imaginations of many minority voters as well as first time voters who passionately thronged polling centers in huge numbers not seen in American politics for ages to dutifully cash their votes in his favor.
I did also observe that college going or college-educated white voters especially those within the young age cohorts have also heavily voted for the junior senator based not on his skin color, but on his coherent and comprehensive campaign messages characterized by the compassion and realism of his personality. These great qualities exhibited by Obama have resonated with most Americans and citizens of the world at large.
I optimistically concluded that his election led me to unapologetically renew my firm belief that America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth where a thing like the election of Barack Obama is feasible. American has proven to the world that in this great nation, a time has come where a person is not judged by his or her name, race, color, religion and background, but by his or her ability, competence and integrity. This sentence is in conformance with the expression given by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in his extraordinary historic “I have a Dream” speech.
My conjecture was that if a little known Senator, who is an African American with a name very alien to the United States, who rose to political stardom when he enchantingly delivered a keynote speech at a Democratic Convention in 2004 could become a President, then that this confirms and validates the undeniable notion that America is a land of opportunity, a beacon of democracy, home to human rights and rule of law and hope. It is a county in which many refugees and victims of politics of brutality have been given sanctuary and found a new life full of hope.
Another article I wrote was in 2012 following his comfortable securing of a well-fought 2nd term Presidential election which was forced into a statistical dead heat by pundits and national pollsters. That election was hugely orchestrated by the mainstream media as tantalizingly within the reach of the Republican challenger Mitt Romney who undoubtedly made a spirited, brazen and ferocious fight. Under a published article titled: Why I devotedly voted for Obama”. Link
I observed among other things, that Obama’s victory has largely to do with his quality leadership style. He had amply demonstrated this with the handling of the deadly super storm sandy that left behind trails of devastation. Sandy battered areas like New York and New Orleans are still unfortunately reeling from the inconceivable devastation.
My conclusion was that America is a beacon of hope, and this great nation that offers endless possibilities to the rest of the world, has the predisposition to solve its major problems with unalloyed commitment by political leaderships across all spectrums.
Although the results from the elections heralded disturbing indicators depicting that the country is hugely polarized, this in its exhaustive analysis, does not mean that the scenarios posed permanent barriers that will prevent politicians of all stripes to agree to put the nation’s interest first as alluded to by Mitt Romney, for America – the land of freedom and the brave, to surmount the current economic problem, God willing.
Obama’s era as First US Black president:
Credible Political gurus have approvingly suggested that President Obama is the most criticized, demonized, lampooned, and ridiculed US president in recent times. My recollection immediately scooped up some disquieting labels tagged on the President such as a socialist, income redistributor, foods tamp president, and much more that I am not comfortable to list here not only for the respect I have for the man I deeply admired, but also because these represented false characterization by his opponents for cheap political reasons. His major accomplishments included ending the catastrophic economic recession that had negatively impacted many families in the nation.
Evidence of the recovery is embedded in the monthly positive job growth numbers or surge in hiring that now put the national unemployment to 5.6% as well as corporate profit expansion. America’s murky image during the Bush Presidency has now been satisfyingly redeemed with the formation of allies in confronting major international conflict situations instead of exhibiting a brazen isolationism policy in the form of the infamous “go it alone policy” that was mind-bogglingly orchestrated under President Bush.
Chilling Racial Crime Statistics. Source: US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Justice Statistics
13% of US population are black
32% of people killed from 2003 to 2009 in arrest-related accidents were black
28% of suspect arrested in US in 2010 were black
42% of inmates on death row in 2012 were black
39.4 % of the total prison and jail population in 2009 are black
27.4% of the back population are poor in 2010 compared to 9.9%bof white
Additional Distressing racial statistics. Source is National Public Radio (NPR) Presentation
Every 29 minutes, a child is born into poverty in the US
1 in 3 black or Latino will go to jail in their life time
148,000 kids were killed in gun-related violence since 1968
1.4 Million Americans perished in gun violence since 1968
80% black kids cannot read computer-related program in 4th grade
Added to these scary statistics is the revelation that 75% of African American women are single mothers who are raising their children singlehandedly with the absence of a father. These broken homes are representation of dismantled family structures that are breeding grounds for loss of family values such as discipline, care, and love amongst others.
Recent reports of police brutality with impunity against young black men resulting in the alleged shooting death of unarmed teens have occupied national political discourse, and the mainstream media are awash with the disturbing news.
These have voluntarily ignited public outrage manifested in deadly protest demonstrations to forcefully bring the severity of the issue into public domain. Hopefully the police and the judicial establishments will find solutions to reduce the problem because racial discrimination against the minority race and an unbridled favoritism in favor of the white race seem likely to stay for posterity in the US and the western world as long as the human race exists.
Corporate America and Universities and Colleges (Higher Learning Institutions) are still embarrassingly riddled with problems of diversity and all-inclusiveness promotion. Despite the institutionalization of brilliant policies on paper to promote minorities to top leadership and management positions, implementation of these programs are being intentionally hamstrung by some white top leaders who are adamantly opposed to them based on racial prejudice and their unalloyed belief in white supremacy doctrine.
During my ongoing Doctoral Program in Education with Higher Educational Leadership concentration, I encountered some shockingly nauseating racial statistics regarding systematic discrimination against the minority, particularly against black in colleges and universities.
In one discovery, there are schools in America with excellent minority student representations, but faculty and staff for these schools are 98% white and the detections show strong evidence that they are clandestinely promoting what some literature described as “All whiteness” in American Colleges and Universities,
With all these shortcomings, I am still an enthusiastic believer in America as beacon of hope, democracy, and rule of law and as a nation that continues to arduously strive for racial equality. The political establishment has the demonstrated capacity to resolve the issue if only a will to do so is spiritedly exhibited by politicians across both political divide. It takes both promulgation and implementation of the right and decisive policies and programs supported by judicial and political firmness.
The above substantiated clearly disturbing statistical findings are a personal attempt at further exposing America’s entrenched racial inequality in varied fronts, even though it stands out as the world’s reining towering super power, a beacon of hope, a champion of democracy and rule of law and a land of opportunity not equal any nation or state in the world.
Lamin Sabally is a former Gambian journalist, senior electoral officer and now a Doctoral candidate of Higher Educational Leadership studies at Bethel University in Minnesota.