I read somewhere that the Founding Fathers believed not only that they were creating a government for our country; they believed they were creating a blueprint for the world. They believed they were creating a system where people could be free and could live without unnecessary government interference, and they believed that their success in North America would be copied by people everywhere.
The Founding Fathers believed the U.S. would change the world, and they were correct.
The United States led the way to the modern world, a world where people can be economically secure and comfortable and where they can be reasonably free to think, say, and believe what they want. The United States demonstrated the power of freedom and capitalism, and people around the world followed. Western Europe was transformed in the 20th Century, Japan followed, then China and the Pacific rim. World hunger has declined substantially over the past three centuries, even though we are enduring a spike currently. Standards of living are up. Wars are down.
Of course, the United States wasn’t perfect. The United States exalted capitalism over freedom by enslaving millions of African Americans to enrich white Americans. By severely restricting freedom for Blacks, we strayed from our own model – freedom and capitalism. We impoverished blacks, we restricted their freedom, we limited their education, and we excluded them from the many of the freedoms that white Americans enjoy. We continue to do it today. We’ve been struggling for centuries to get back on the path to capitalism with freedom for all.
Times are changing, and whether we like it or not, people of color are getting their day in the United States. It’s happening despite the racist attitudes that we built into our culture and that still prevail. It’s happening because our model – capitalism and freedom – is succeeding around the world; if we want to participate in world capitalism, we have no choice but to deal with successful capitalists, whatever their skin color or ethnicity. The European-American hold on worldwide capitalism is fading fast, and Asians and Africans are becoming our partners as the advance of civilization continues. America, white America, is giving way to a truly multi-racial, multi-ethnic world.
Moreover, birth rates are working against white America. Non-Hispanic white Americans are becoming a minority in the United States, as Black population remains steady and the Hispanic population grows. White Americans soon will have lost control of the American electorate. The American workplace is well on its way to becoming multi-racial and multi-ethnic, too.
In light of these undeniable, unavoidable, unstoppable trends, I’m amazed at the intensity of the fight to keep Blacks subjugated in America. White people have ignored, and in many cases angrily resisted, the pleas of Black Americans to be released from the cultural and legal constraints that keep them living in ghettos, that limit their education, and that restrict their opportunities. Instead of simply recognizing the truth of a century of legitimate complaints from Blacks, white America always has an excuse. “They aren’t working hard enough.” “They don’t try in school.” “They haven’t learned American English.” “They should stop killing their own people.” “They’re good athletes but they’re not smart.” It’s ridiculous. White America will say almost anything to ignore the simple truth that the entire world has seen for decades.
The United States needs to recognize that responding to American racism is a critical element to continuing Ameican success in the world-wide capitalist competition. That competition is driven by innovation; innovation is what has allowed the United States to develop and to maintain its position as the greatest economic power in the world. Innovation is driven by brain power.
Forty years ago the United States doubled its potential brain power by opening the doors of Ameircan business and commerce to women. We began to admit women to the professional workforce in substantial numbers, and as a result we have many of the best business people, scientists, engineers, doctors, and lawyers in the world. More talent leads to more success.
American racism has left Black brain power on the sidelines for all too long. By excluding Black people from American business, by subjecting Blacks to lives of poverty, inadequate housing and health care, and substandard educational opportunity, the United States has turned its back on 10% of American brain power. Apartheid killed the economy of South Africa; South Africa couldn’t operate successfully in the modern world with less than 20% of its population available for white collar work. The percentages are different, but the principle is the same – societies are most successful when everyone participates.
We were perfectly happy to build the greatest economy in the world on the backs and the muscles of Black men and women. They served white America remarkably well.
Now, in the 21st century, we don’t need Black muscle power, we need their brain power. It’s all hands on deck in the global capitalist competition. We need Black brain power, something that we’ve denied, ignored, and thwarted.
We no longer can afford to exclude people arbitrarily. It’s time to open the doors for Black people. They deserve it, and we need them.