05/14/2010 04:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hands Across the Water

African-Americans have always been both the pulse and the conscience of the United States of America. We have cried out loudly when the boots of stinging racism have stifled our living and culture. Blacks have over and again brought this nation's attention to the residuals of racism that have prevented our participation in the American Dream. Black Americans have helped to re-focus that "dream" state to its nightmarish reality for a whole culture of people. Our Black mothers have often been instrumental in raising White sons in antebellum and the post antebellum captivity that is the unemployment of Blacks in modern America. Through the Vietnam conflict, the first person to have died in every major American conflict had been a Black American.

So in watching the recent economic shifts of middle-class employment in the United States, some things became clear. African lineage peoples have reacted with more relative grace when dealing with this nation's recent economic tumult than the majority culture. After all, if thirty five percent of White American males were out of work, the nation would define that condition in differing terms.

Thinking about these dynamics today, my thoughts wandered back to a statement I had heard a White person say when it was not known that I was within earshot. The statement about African-Americans was, "I don't like or trust Ni**gers... never have and never will." And that memory got me to thinking! Here is what I know.

Caldeans, citizen of Iraq, have been highly successful in the world of jewelry and the selling of liquor in Black communities in this nation. This trade would not be permitted in many countries in the Middle East where the sell of alcohol alone is prohibited. French and Canadian scientists and researchers pepper academic institutions at the highest levels of academia in this nation.

While Homeland Security marvels at discovery relative to Faisal Shahzad and the attempted bombing in New York, California's burgeoning medical marijuana business has Pakistani entrepreneurs spearheading that movement. Of course, Humboldt County, home of more empty trash bags for the transport of marijuana than almost anyplace, is the home of millionaires without high school educations. I know that there are German businessmen driving Lexus' all over America and I know that no Black people have started any world wars. And I know that the second language spoken in La Jolla, California, is "Afrikaans" and not "Hip-Hop."

The NCAA has long been part of this pattern of exploitation of African-Americans. That large population of Black athletes that represent the high profit generating sports "manufactures" the lion's share of excitement in college sports. This controlled labor without compensation represents America's open secret about both slavery and violations of the spirit and letter of child labor laws.

What have African-American youth done to deserve exclusion from equal and fair economic participation in their nation? What have they done to be valuable enough to be taken advantage of but not valuable enough to invest in? How is it possible that in the age of the computer, Black youth are falling farther and farther behind in the development of those skills necessary to navigate the coming world business environment?

My father was a member of the team of wonderful individuals who gave to the world the last incarnation of the first functioning electronic computing device. Had he lived this long, he would have been truly disappointed that his invention was not used in a more egalitarian fashion. And my observations here are not to deride any of those other ethnic groupings doing so well in America. But Black people are the reason America exists at all. First with tobacco and then "King Cotton," the flailing and fledgling American economy survived and grew on the backs and labor of enslaved people whose progeny are still not allowed to participate in the fruits of this nation.

Clearly, Americans especially have to be incentivised to initiate or cease certain behaviors. What will it take to encourage America to live up to its credo and accept its entire people equally? With the destruction of the housing market, we have a unique opportunity to involve that discarded portion of the American patchwork. Minimum wage jobs just won't work in America anymore and if we are to compete as a nation on the world stage, we are going to have to use Black youth for more than the momentary thrills associated with sporting events. Any new surge towards alterations in the education model must take into account those wandering and displaced Black youth that are still not wholly participating in America. We must alter that equation that has African-American youth arrested for the smoking of marijuana while new Americans from across any shores, along with indigenous uneducated Whites, are allowed to profit from the distribution of that same substance with impunity.

Politics is always local and always involves imbalanced levels of economic distribution. There is a problem when the "new immigrants" of any nation take precedence and have easier passage to participation than do the indigenous population. This situation does explain why you see so few African-Americans wearing lapel pins with American flags shouting "God Bless America."