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Choices and Challenges for 2020

By Richard B. Muhammad | Last updated: Dec 30, 2019 - 1:00:02 AM

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With the advent of a new year comes a flurry of promises and resolutions tied to a renewed spirit and hope things will get better. Despite the optimism, mere belief in improved conditions won’t change things and won’t guarantee progress.

Progress will come as a result of the proper choices to meet the challenges faced by Black America suffering from external attacks and internal division. We cannot lay all of our problems at the feet of White people, nor can we absolve them of past and present evils committed against us. We need a sober assessment of the time and what must be done.

America is at crossroads and Black America is in the valley of decision. Will we chart our own course or will we cling to the belief that everything will be alright? The election of Donald Trump and division in the country over his impeachment and removal are indicative of where America is. The president has emboldened Whites tired of demands that they respect the rights of Black and non-White people. His election came on the heels of a president who tried to present a vision of One America and who tried to appeal to a sense of national unity. And, while President Barack Obama shied away from racial issues, his appeals to Whites didn’t unite the country. They spawned an ugly White backlash that resulted in the election of Mr. Trump, who has served as a Divider in Chief. Mr. Trump has been unapologetic in denigrating and demonizing anyone perceived as opposed to his political agenda or guilty of a personal insult. His words, his manner and his actions have set a dangerous tone for a country void of spiritual values, cursed with inordinate personal and national greed, and flush with weapons.

As America must face her challenges, Black America cannot shrink from the hard decisions we must make. Black on Black crime and murder remain at unconscionable levels. “In 2016, the national black homicide victimization rate was 20.44 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide victimization rate was 5.10 per 100,000. Nationwide, 87 percent of black homicide victims were killed with guns,” said a study released earlier this year by the Violence Policy Center. The 2016 numbers were the most up to date numbers available. 

“The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women, and girls in America is a national shame,” said Violence Policy Center executive director Josh Sugarmann. “These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and should provoke an outcry for change.”

Rampant violence has opened the door for federal intervention. The U.S. Justice Department has announced initiatives in seven cities to combat violent crime above national averages.

“Fighting violent crime is one of the priorities of this administration,” said Attorney General Barr during a Dec. 18 press conference in Detroit. 

His agency’s Operation Relentless Pursuit will include the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service and local police departments in Detroit; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore; Cleveland;  Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, metropolitan area; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee.

Mr. Barr is already on record warning that communities that fail to show proper respect to law enforcement may find themselves lacking policing. His boss, Mr. Trump, is on record saying cops need to be less gentle with suspects.

With Blacks already disproportionate victims of police violence and police killings how can this be a good thing? Suffering Black communities are skeptical of corrupt police departments and officers who indiscriminately criminalize any Black man, woman or child and are victimized by actual criminals in their neighborhoods. 

More federal law enforcement officers will join local departments and task forces with an additional $71 million in federal money available to pay for new equipment and technology, more cops, police overtime and help fund joint task forces.

Heartbreaking, diabolical sex trafficking is another scourge we cannot tolerate. The Black and Missing Foundation says Black people, just 13 percent of the American population, are almost 40 percent (232,881) of all missing persons. Black women, just seven percent of America’s population, are 10 percent of all reported missing persons cases, said the foundation. In 2018, roughly 64,000 Black women and girls went missing, it said. Many of the missing may be victims of sex trafficking.

“African American youth are at increased risk for domestic minor sex trafficking, with being female, living in an urban area, and experiencing abuse prior to trafficking all being factors that are associated with risk for sex trafficking. Of the over 300,000 minors in the U.S. who are victims of domestic sex trafficking, it is estimated that 43 percent are African American girls,” according to research by Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD., of Pepperdine University. The U.S. Justice Dept. has reported that of confirmed sex trafficking victims whose race was known, 26 percent were White and 40 percent were Black.

Violence, poverty, lack of wealth, poor health, economic anemia and even a rising suicide rate among young Black people are some of the issues we must confront in 2020.

Expanded discussions about reparations were a positive sign. These discussions could lay the foundation for future talks and negotiations, not about studying the question but giving the descendants of America’s once slaves land to start an independent reality and support for its first 20 years of existence. This is the best and only solution called for by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam, in the Muslim Program and by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. 

Reparations is no longer an “unreasonable” topic of discussion. It leaves America with the question of how she will resolve this issue—and Black America must decide where her future lies. Does it lie with a declining, fractured United States, which matches the biblical prophecies of a fallen Babylon, or in separating from America as the children of Israel separated from Egypt? It’s interesting that we choose to believe in scripture looking back thousands of years ago, but refuse to see our suffering under a modern pharaoh.

Richard B. Muhammad is editor in chief for The Final Call newspaper. Find him on Facebook and follow @RMfinalcall on Twitter.