The Race Is Not Over
The inauguration of President’s Obama’s second term coinciding with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day, is of great significance to Afro Americans. For many Afro Americans it justifiably brings a positive appreciation of possibilities. The Mahogany Coconut Group identifies with this positivity. We in the Caribbean have long been partners with our Afro American brothers and sisters. While this partnership to rid America and indeed the Caribbean of racism and social injustice, reached its zenith around the late 60’s, we know that the struggle continues.
However, we pause to remind ourselves that the " battle is not o’er and the victory is not yet won." We must continue to eradicate poverty, racism and social injustice wherever they exist and the forty two million Americans, who are living in poverty, bear clear testimony to this reality. Even with the passage of the historic Healthcare Legislation (Obamacare) , there are still millions of Afro Americans and other economically disadvantaged citizens of the world’s most powerful country, who cannot afford health care.
The parallel in Caribbean history would be the attainment of independence from our colonial masters and the fact that a half century after some of our island states attained independence, we cannot sing the battle is o’er and the victory is won. Who would have imagined that after the vibrant independence movement of the 60’s and the granting of adult suffrage, our islands will still be riddled by poor and dispossessed citizens, existing on the brink of poverty.
In terms of parallels, who would have thought that after the civil rights victories of the 60’s, Afro Americans, will still be lining up, for over five hours, to cast a ballot, in their democracy? The incomes of Afro Americans are still below their white counterparts. We cannot ignore the inequalities in income, health care and housing and the persistent attempts to cut or stop programs designed to give the more vulnerable assistance.
Ironically, there are those in the Caribbean calling for the abolition of free education; free health services and the privatization of public transportation and other services which benefit the marginalized. The challenges confronting Afro Americans and the Afro Caribbean, are ominous to say the very least.
We have no doubt that the achievements of Dr. King, President Obama, Nelson Mandela and others are great inspiration for all oppressed peoples. What we want to guard against is resting on our laurels and taking our eyes off the ball. In the words of the great civil rights leaders:"We must keep our eyes on the prize."
As long as a child goes to sleep hungry; as long as employers exploit workers; as long as proper schools are absent in poor communities; as long as persons are still judged by the “color of their skin and not the content of their character”, the race is not over.