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BellaOnline's African American Culture Editor

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The Cost of Being Black in America


There was a storm that had been brewing for a very long time. It circled the atmosphere gaining momentum until it found its destination in America. This storm has been forming for generations. At times it appeared to calm down, but it was only lying dormant until incident after incident exposed it for what it really was: Racism.

There is a cost for being Black in America. And the majority of the bill falls upon the shoulders and backs of our young Black sons and men. There is an insidious evil that lies in the heart of some Americans that believe that the color of their skin; their race; gives them supremacy and authority over life of a Black person. Even the President is not exempt from this thought process.

It is 2013, yet it feels like 1813 and racism is alive and well in these United States of America. Comparing it [2013] to 1953 or even 1963 would be less than accurate. At least you knew then what people really felt. They were not able to hide their disdain and contempt for Black people. They were free to say what it was that they felt in their hearts because it was legal for them to do so. Now it often is hidden until countless lives of Black Americans are being taken and it is seen as justifiable. And while laws are written and decreed that only benefit the lawmakers and those of the same hue; as the same laws leave Black families torn apart, and Black men and women behind bars into a new form of slavery.

One cannot possibly deny the existence of racism. It is everywhere; even in the church. You hear it from the lips of religious leaders. You turn on the television and hear it in the words of supposed news anchors and journalists. You hear it in the people being interviewed. You see it in the actions of people. You see it every day in the judicial system that is supposed to be blind. We need only to look at the statistics for the number of minorities that are incarcerated as opposed to white Americans. It is abhorrent that Black Americans account for 13% of the whole American population, but account for 41% of the prison population (That's not including women). Something is wrong. Very wrong.

In recent light of a verdict in a certain trial, it spoke volumes to Black Americans. It gave validity to what many already believed, that there is no value placed on Black life. That, our Black sons have no right to wear what they want to wear, walk the streets of their own neighborhood, let any neighborhood, or drive somewhere without being profiled. That, if they are being followed they should not defend themselves or fight back or even run. That, if they should be assaulted or killed, it is their fault because of the color of their skin.

The cost of being Black in America is an awful high one. The mask of racism runs deep, hiding behind laws, badges, money, and even jurors. Yet, one of the saddest and scariest thing is, those who do not believe they are racist but honestly believe that what they say and do is justified because of who they are and the color of their skin, and deny the existence of racism, saying that Black people are overreacting. Unless you've walked in the shoes of a Black person, or been that parent of a Black child that has been illegally pulled over, frisked, jailed, profiled or killed because of their color of skin; then you cannot identify with, nor understand the experience of living in Black skin.

We've come so far yet still have so far to go. Racism is alive and being exposed each and every day. Yet, the answer is not to fight hate with hate. It is through education, organization, voting and unity. There was a certain lull in the fight for justice and equality for all. Just because one triumphs in one area, does not mean the fight is over. You have to fight to keep what you've won, less the enemy comes and takes back the ground you've gained.

We must arm and educate our Black children; especially our sons about the cost of being Black in America. We must teach them to be discerning of their interactions and surroundings. We must teach them the importance of an education, and how they present themselves. We must teach them their history and their self-worth—something they will not receive through public schools. We must instill in them that once success is obtained, and a change in socio-economic status occurs, the fight still ensues. They must never forget where they come from, or be lulled with a false sense of security; their skin is still Black and they still can and will be touched by racism.

Finally, we must teach our black children; especially our sons, the laws of the land. We must arm them with the knowledge of their rights. An educated Black man is often the most feared man in the world. For he has learned and recognizes the power in using his mind first, instead of his fists, but wise enough to know when to protect himself physically; even if it means death.


It is time to rise up and organize and fight the way our ancestors taught us to fight. It is time to protest, boycott, and speak out. Our voices need to be heard. Not through yelling or rioting or destroying our own neighborhoods. But by standing together in unity, and voting on every level of government, beginning in our own districts and communities. And realizing that together, we can strike a mighty blow.
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The Future of Black Children
The Education of the African-American
In This Black Skin
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Content copyright © 2014 by Ruthe McDonald. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ruthe McDonald. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ruthe McDonald for details.

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