Welcome to a discussion about the upcoming 5th Revolution in the US, which I’ve titled the “Revenge Revolution.” For more about the Revenge Revolution and the author, Entry #1 Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether a revolution in the US is possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US. Entry #430 was the most recent “sense check.”

ENTRY #440 BEGINS: We are near the end of February, which some years ago, was designated as Black History Month. A major event during this month was the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court and, if confirmed, would be the first black woman to serve on SCOTUS.

Judge Jackson has stellar educational and work credentials. Two other possible nominees, also black women, are also highly educated and qualified.

During February, while the speculation about the SCOTUS nominee received considerable media attention, there was also frequent mention from various high-profile blacks that we, societal we, need to have an honest conversation about the history of how blacks have been suppressed over time.

I agree that historical suppression of blacks is a fair topic. I also think the conversation about the effects of suppression needs to include a simple question. “Why has every other ethnic group in the US been able to move up the economic ladder within two to three generations?”

Before claiming these other ethnic groups weren’t discriminated against or suppressed like blacks, one needs to read the history books. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were signs reading, “No Irish or dogs allowed.”  Similar signs were put up about Italians and various other groups, some far more recently.

Targeting non-black groups continues today.  The march in Charlottesville, VA during the early days of the Trump administration, in addition to targeting blacks, targeted Jews.  In the past couple of years, several synagogues have been attacked and a number of people killed.

So back to the question that needs to be discussed, “why have blacks continued at the bottom rung of the economic ladder for so long?”  Yes, I understand the question is politically incorrect and may even be offensive to some people.  However, without addressing such difficult questions, progress becomes impossible.

Over time education has proved to be a key for upward mobility.  Education does not mean everyone should or needs to go to college.  Technical training is an ideal route for many. 

The discussion also needs to ask whether society is providing the right kind of support for blacks.  While modern school buildings and access to an iPad are nice, education only works when the individual has the desire to learn and is willing to commit time and effort to learning.

Without that desire and commitment at the individual level, educational efforts are as effective as pushing on a string.   No matter how much energy is expended pushing on the string, not much happens at the other end.

As demonstrated repeatedly by other ethnic groups, even with a desire for and a commitment to education, significant economic mobility will take several generations.  For blacks specifically, the Emancipation Proclamation was about 160 years ago, or 6-7 generations. There have been three generations since the SCOTUS decision of Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned the separate but equal clause from Plessy v. Ferguson.

A controversial idea.  Maybe it is time to revisit the ideas of Plessy, but this time with fair implementation.  For many black families, there has been limited exposure to post-secondary education.  The transition from high school to college is difficult for most every student.  And with fewer family experiences to draw on, the transition for black students might be even more difficult.

Is it time that we, back to societal we, consider beefing up resources provided to various historically black colleges and universities?  HBCU’s could be an ideal environment for many black students to achieve the transition between high school and college.   HCBU’s have produced a plethora of highly successful graduates, including VP of the US, Kamala Harris. 

The scope of education at HCBU’s could be expanded to include more courses in the skilled trades.  As the economy becomes more reliant on digital-based equipment, the education for skilled trades needs to increase the amount of technical knowledge in addition to teaching the skills of the particular trade. 

To begin to grasp how much more sophisticated the equipment is than 10-years ago and certainly 20-years ago, one only needs to look at a recent episode of “This Old House.”  Even more striking is the difference in the use of digital-driven equipment in manufacturing.    

The technical training at HBCU’s could be complemented with business training.  Not everyone needs to earn an MBA, but many students would be well served by classes in the fundamentals of operating a business — accounting, budgeting, cash flow management, etc. 

The combination of some traditional education and technical training could help HCBU’s become a major source of highly skilled graduates for many industries.  Some HCBU’s could add a co-op program that would allow students with limited resources to earn enough money for tuition and living expense while also getting an education and real-world experience. 

These ideas do not eliminate the reality of the effects of suppression of blacks.  The ideas do help change the focus toward the future.  Rather than driving while only looking in the rearview mirror, blacks can start driving while looking through the windshield and occasionally glancing in the rearview mirror.  Doing so will speed up the trip away from the bottom rung of the economic ladder.   

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