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For Blacks in post-racial America, better is not good enough

Photos by Steed Media Service

Photos by Steed Media Service

As an African American living in a supposedly post-racial America, I have grown accustomed to the following life cycle: injustice, grief and expected forgiveness. No matter how egregious the offenses against AfricanAmericans are, White America will only tolerate a brief period of grieving while they impatiently await our inevitable words of forgiveness, which will be broadcast in slightly varying forms on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. White America’s impatience and expectation of forgiveness are rooted in the idea that African Americans should be appreciative of how much better society is today than it once was.

There is nothing White Americans enjoy more than patting themselves on the back to celebrate how far America has come in race relations. I am not here to complain. In fact, I am grateful that I do not have to take an exam to exercise my right to vote; I am grateful that the N-word is no longer the name to which I must respond; and I am truly grateful that my literacy is no longer a crime punishable by death. Yes, when it comes to race relations, America is better than it was, but until better is synonymous with equality and justice, there is still a race problem.

It is not just White Americans – conservatives and liberals – who love spouting the self-congratulatory better philosophy. Too often, I hear Black leaders and pundits end their social analysis in a similar fashion. I have always wondered if this were done to avoid being dismissed as an angry Black person by the White masses or was it a way of paying homage to the sacrifices made by our ancestors. When analyzing the achievement gap, Black male incarceration rate or overly aggressive police enforcement of Black communities, I should never have to punctuate my acerbic critiques of these social ills with a “but things are better” so that my words will either be more palatable to White audiences or because I fear I am exhibiting a lack of reverence for those who fought, marched and died for me.

Using history as a reference point from which to learn and grow is an integral part of societal transformation, but living in a constant state of comparison to the past stifles discourse and impedes progress. Instead of viewing society through a critical lens in an effort to continually improve our nation, we become content with change occurring in the most minimal of increments. There were a number of older African Americans who did not support Dr. King because they believed his efforts would make the racial atmosphere worse. From their perspective, the conditions for African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s were much better than they were in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

A significant part of our American inheritance is a legacy of racial inequality. And even though the system of Black Codes was better than slavery; Jim Crow was better than Black Codes; and post-racial America is better than Jim Crow, I realize that each and every breath African Americans take in this nation could be our last. Until that reality changes, better is not good enough.


  1. Fred Sims on July 17, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Time to show up

  2. Pamela Dominguez on July 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

    My sentiments exactly. I just had a discourse with a white female who seemed to be oblivious as to “Why” Blacks have less than others in her words, “this is the land of opportunity.” Oh yeah? A well written article.

  3. Jason on July 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I say stop trying to get non-melanoid people to understand. Forget what non-melanoid people think about you and yours. No need to try to appease them. Remember – these are the same people who captured, sold, beat, maimed and killed out ancestors. Why do any of you think they are any different today? Remember before they enslaved us – they killed, raped and conquered across the globe. I am not saying hate them, but I am saying stop trying to change the nature of a thing.

    • d. yucha on July 18, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Jason…. “Remember before they enslaved us” ? That means that you ll be over 150 years old your next birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

      • Jason on July 19, 2015 at 2:03 am

        Before White enslaved black people. Either way – stop playing the fool. You are another one of the problems in black society. You “smart” dummies are always trying to joke about serious issues. If you are not black – go kill yourself.

        • d. yucha on July 19, 2015 at 4:54 am

          Jason….. “stop playing the fool”? My exact thoughts, fool. YOU are another one of the problems in society, period. “You “smart” dummies” ? Now there s a brilliant comment. Just goes to show you why no one takes you seriously. Bootlip statements like this are why. BOOTLIP! POOR YOU. WE SHOULD FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. ALL THAT YOU VE BEEN THROUGH! Grows some balls and get some game. NO GAME!

          • Jason on July 19, 2015 at 9:00 am

            I never asked for anyone to feel sorry for black people. If your comprehension was up to par, you would understand that from my original post. Blacks need to stop trying to educate fools like yourself as to the plight of black people.

          • d. yucha on July 19, 2015 at 9:13 am

            Jason…. “comprehension” is understanding that after 150 plus years you still haven’t figured it out. That’s up to par? Get some game and quit your crying Princess. FOOLS like yourself are what is keeping you down. ITS YOU BOOTLIP!

          • GiveMePlur on September 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

            150 years is not that long ago? Whites have had many more generations to get themselves together. Coming from Kemit then slavery to whatever this is today is a big leap for our people. Especially when we are forced into the role of the second class citizen. You need to have some compassion.

    • GiveMePlur on September 11, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      I understand where you’re coming from, but we should never stop teaching non-melanoid people about who are and what we deserve. They will eventually get it. There’s a lot more warmth in the world than you’re letting your self see.

      • Jason on September 12, 2015 at 3:23 pm

        I respect your comment, but blacks spend too much time on what others think of them. You can’t change a thing’s nature. It is what it is.

  4. rαvє ѕlαvє on July 21, 2015 at 12:37 am

    That was really good Mr. Adams… I feel the exact same way. Better is not good enough ✊?