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Hermene Hartman Headshot

Where is Black America?

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In 2008, I was convinced, with the election of America's first Black President, we had leaped over the moon. I saw great promise. I was in Grant Park that warm night feeling the love and the change. Valerie Jarrett and I cried, hugged and kissed. "Do you believe it?" I saw Jesse and Oprah cry. I saw first hand black and white strangers holding hands. I saw the magic. I saw Chicago's pride and power. I talked to my girlfriend and say let's go. She said, no because something might happen. I heard her fear. I lost my friend in the crowd because of the excitement we couldn't find each other and we were just a block away. I saw Axelrod beam. I saw people cry tears of joy.

Dr. King's dream was realized, we kept hope alive and we won. A new America was here, not born but developed. Not being a novice political thinker, I didn't dare think that we had arrived, but I did think America would improve and race relations had pushed uphill forward. I thought the executive boardroom would open to women and Blacks and Browns, I thought minority enterprise would thrive. I thought the world of opportunity opened wide. Surprise, surprise, and surprise. The tale of Black America -- where are we today?

Racism has increased, to the point where you might question is it really 2012. Racism has changed to the point where we don't recognize it, we don't call it. The talk show hosts approach it is at though it is a Memorex commercial Is it real or is it Memorex? Is it racism or is it not? I don't believe presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, actually said that Black elementary school children should work as janitors in their schools so that they could learn a work ethic. I can't believe the attack on black boys from black boys and white men, making them definitely the endangered spices. I can't believe the cold-blooded killing of hooded Trayvon as a typical teenage American boy. I can't believe it took so long to arrest Zimmerman.

The black male school drop out rate is alarmingly high. Black males are going to prisons rapidly, like it is a career alternative. Black women suffer because of it. I can't believe the drive by shootings of the innocent. I read a Sunday Cincinnati newspaper, with screaming headlines -- "Enough." The city is stricken by black on black crime and the police chief, who is the first black to hold position, is going to step up foot and bike patrol and the council members are adding funds to the public coffers with special programming.

I heard the "adult question" of the day on a radio program seriously asking if Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were the "new" civil rights leaders because they were marching and raising questions on Trayvon's murder. I heard the politicians of Tulsa, where a another hate crime with black murders occurred with a white man shooting randomly killing three Black men, saying that Rev. Jackson was not wanted in the community.

I read a blog on Huffington Post and saw the white woman being interviewed on Bill O'Riley Fox News program saying that Black America should start packing guns. She was urging Black America to arm itself and pointed out historically that white men could purchase guns when Black men could not because of skin color. She was a white female Macolm X in 2012. She was expressing a logical viewpoint, she might have been arrested on air had she been a black male.

What happened? Who is to blame? Is it still 2012 or did somebody turn the clock backwards? What happened to the progress? What happened to the change of attitudes? Where is that promise?

Along the way we have become disconnected. Facebook, online, video games have a negative factor, it is the disconnect to the human experience, to reality, perhaps. People are becoming robotic in human behavior in the name of technology and efficiency. The kids are crazy, violent, fat and oversexed. They are smart and ignorant. They are quick on the draw. The blame is the too young parent. The blame is the baby's mama and the baby's daddy have replaced mothers and fathers and husbands and wives. The blame is an educational system that has failed because the teacher baby-sits rather than teach and the curriculum omitted arts, gym with a constant diet of fast food. The longer school day is good because it will take kids off the street but teachers should be paid for their extended workday. The church is overburden with youth burials and trying to build recreational centers.

I have a new measure for politicians no matter the office. Simply, I want to hear from the candidate, what is the solution for little Susie and Johnnie being able to play in the front yard and not get shot at six years old. I want a remedy on drive by shootings so that a mother can be safe lying in bed with her baby in her arms. I want the news to stop reporting inner city crime like it is a war zone or a game to make points.

Where is Black America? Who is to blame? We are.