Black university students (illustrative)
Black university students (illustrative)iStock

Slavery, segregation and discrimination have delayed and stymied equal opportunity to compete in American society for many Black Americans.

If this article upsets adherents of both America’s Right and Left, maybe that will be a good sign that it is presenting a pragmatic analysis of the historically unprecedented social distress of the Black community in America, and realistic ways to alleviate it - if that is what they want to do.

Black social distress is the historical result of slavery, segregation, poverty and discrimination

Almost 400 years of slavery and ensuing segregation in the South created a degree of social distress for American Blacks that far surpasses the trials and tribulations in the USA of any other immigrant groups that have more successfully competed for a comfortable place in America’s highly competitive society, although other groups suffered terribly before they arrived on America's shores..

Slavery, segregation, discrimination and resulting poverty have made it extremely difficult for American Blacks to build the type of community social culture that would give them the resources and social skills enabling them to successfully compete and advance in American society. Poor Black communities are characterized in the last half century by a degree of unstable families, single parenthood, illegitimate births, low academic performance, unemployment and internal violence that are much higher than the national average. The American Black community pays a very high price every day for the years of slavery, segregation and discrimination that it has endured and was unable to overcome.

What must be done so Black America can have succeed in competing in American society?

Very simply, America must give Black Americans the resources so that they can help themselves, but that must be done wisely.

One, America must establish programs to dramatically lessen the obstacles of prejudice and discrimination

I agree with the American Left that America must establish programs that will greatly reduce the elements of prejudice and conscious/unconscious discrimination in American society. This requires more widely teaching the history of slavery and segregation, promoting seminars in which people can become more sensitive to unstated prejudice, increasing access to programs such as small business loans and mortgages, and establishing selected affirmative action, employment programs in which individuals will be given priority, not on the basis of race or ethnicity, but on a proven record of successfully ‘climbing out’ of a background of severe socio-economic distress.

Two, Massive Federal spending to increase the educational, health and social resources of poor Black communities - dependent on their being used wisely.

I agree with the American Left that America must implement an unprecedented, massive program to provide poor Black communities with the educational, health and social resources necessary for competing on more equal terms in American society, resources that still need enhancing.

Poor Black communities will have a realistic chance of overcoming the damage of discrimination and segregation only if they will receive an extensive range of social resources such as day care from the age of six months, and Head Start early childhood programs from the age of three.

“Schools’ should be redefined from being large, 45 minute classes learning specific academic content, and become transformed into educational-family empowerment resource centers. At such educational-family resource centers students will learn in classes of no more than twenty students. They will learn not only academic subjects but will be enriched and empowered with sports, crafts, the arts, and social group experiences.

The key to creating such an environment will the active involvement of parents in determining, and taking overall responsibility for, the content and success of these educational-community centers. The input of empowering social work will be critical here.

Three, once given the above assistance, poor Black communities must assume responsibility to ‘help themselves’ and create a more educationally and family oriented social culture

However, I strongly agree with the American Right that ( based on the premise that American society will succeed in the above two tasks and will provide increased educational and social resources): that Black Americans must take upon themselves the responsibility for building communities that will create a social culture that will allow them to successfully compete. Social research shows that to do this they must create communities based on stable two parent families, where educational achievement is a supreme value, where a sense of personal and social security is pervasive, and where positive values of spiritual faith and a positive connection to American ideals is present. This is exactly the type of social culture that has enabled other immigrant groups to successfully compete.

A specific example that explains the above analysis: How a poor Black community can build a social culture supportive of proper medical care

The Black community has suffered an above average rate of corona deaths. The reason seems to be that the Black community suffers from an above average rate of diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Blacks argue this medical crisis is also the result of their history of slavery, segregation and discrimination.

In broad terms I agree with them. For example, medical facilities in poverty communities are limited. Much tension and trauma are embedded in their lives. Blacks also are less likely to have adequate medical insurance, and less access to quality medical professionals. Medical professional often do not have ‘faith’ in the compliance of the Black patient, and do not understand the particularities of illness in the Black community. Finally, because of poverty or misuse of funds, Black families may not be able to afford healthy nutrition. Junk food is less expensive.

Applying our above analysis, it is necessary that the government expand the access and availability of medical insurance and quality medical services. Community medical teams should provide health education in schools, community centers and home visits. Health professionals should receive supplementary education to help them more effectively communicate with Black patients.

But, as argued above, following a concrete increase of medical services in the community, the Black leadership must take responsibility for transforming increased medical resources into a more successful social culture of medical care. For example, we all know a person can receive all the professional help and advice on how to diet, but only he can transform this help into a successful diet. Ultimately, the success of any diet depends on the subject himself .Similarly, building a social culture that promotes proper medical care ultimately depends on the Black community itself.

History provides no other answer to historical injustice than Black self help and empowerment.

I fully acknowledge that building a more stable, family and educationally oriented community social culture is a humongous, overwhelming task given the damage done to Black social culture by hundreds of years of slavery, segregation and discrimination and a lack of drive to change that.. But there is no other alternative.

Yes, Black Americans have been victims. But ultimately, given adequate resources, only the victim can Help himself. Nobody else can do it for him.

This is true of victims of individual human tragedies, of those born with emotional and physical disabilities, and of those suffering tragic losses of loved ones. This is also true of those who are the victims, like the Black community, of historical tragedies such as slavery and segregation. This is not just. This is not fair. But history has never been, and never will be fair. For example, a Holocaust that slaughtered six million Jews in less than three years is also not just and fair, but the Jews went forward and built the successful state of Israel three years after that..

Other than illusory utopian political promises and dream, History provides no other remedy for Black social distress than self help and self empowerment.

Summary- The choice between the American dream of Martin Luther King or the illusory promises of cultural Marxism

In order for Blacks to benefit from equal social opportunities American society must eliminate as much discrimination and prejudice as is possible, and supply as many additional social and educational resources as are possible. I would metaphorically say that non-Black American society has to do around ‘thirty per cent of the job’.

But the Black community, given this assistance, must take upon itself the responsibility ‘to help itself’, to create a social culture that will allow it to successfully compete in American society. Metaphorically, this is probably ‘seventy percent of the job’.

I agree that this analysis supplies a difficult, not too promising, not too encouraging, sort of answer, to the historical tragedy of Black America. It is a difficult pill to swallow. But I believe it is the only answer that sets out a realistic path for advancement of both the Black community and for America as a whole.

The cultural Marxists of academia and their liberal media followers promise the Black community a ‘revolution’ by a coalition of all ‘oppressed’ self identity minorities together with the Black community that will ‘solve’ the problem by overthrowing the oppressing class of ‘white men holding power due to their white privilege’. In the wake of the revolution’s resulting ‘abolition of racism ‘ Black suffering will disappear in some type of ‘magical’ utopian manner. Cultural Marxism does not spell out, or even hint, what steps the Black community must do to ‘help and empower itself’ by transforming its present social culture. (Tongue in cheek) I guess the ‘revolution’ will solve all problems.

I think that the Black community has a much better chance of ‘helping itself’ if it returns ‘home’ to the (pre cultural Marxist) teachings of Martin Luther King. Dr. King gave no free passes to white America when denouncing America’s cruel history of slavery and segregation. But he also believed, and proposed, that white and Black America could unite and act together to extend and implement America’s historical heritage of equality and justice within the Black community. America’s historical heritage is basically healthy and positive. Historically, almost all immigrant groups have been successfully able to use this heritage to advance their social well being, but they worked hard at it without government help.

Turning to America’s non Black majority and demanding that it unite around implementation of the principles of America’s constitutional heritage seems to me a much more realistic strategy for the Black community than that of cultural Marxism. Blacks should not bet on a social revolution. America has never in its history supported a social revolution and is unlikely to do so in the future. Most Americans, however, I believe do want to help Blacks help themselves. Most Americans feel that self help self empowerment is a very integral part of the American social tradition. I believe most Americans will be willing to adjust their way of thinking and acting, and will be also willing to pay the taxes necessary for supplying the educational and social resources to the Black community that will allow the Black community to transform their social culture into one that will allow them to more successfully compete in American society.

Dr. Chaim C. Cohen, whose PhD. is from Hebrew U., is a social worker and teacher at the Hebrew Univ. School of Social Work, and Efrata College.