Black Americans (1619- ) are the people in the US who look at least part African (the One Drop Rule). Most came as slaves. The ideas that made that seem right and good are still very much alive. As the United Nations noted in 2016:
“there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”
Demographics: US Blacks make up at least 13% of the US, 22% of the African Diaspora and 4% of all Black people worldwide. I say “at least” because many Blacks in the US who were born in Africa or the Caribbean mark “Some Other Race” on the US census.
Migration: US Blacks have migrated to the northern US (the Great Migration), Liberia (Americo-Liberians), Sierra Leone, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad, Haiti and elsewhere.
Genetically, Blacks in the south-western US are 92% African and 7% European (according to National Geographic in 2017).
Culturally, as Khalid Muhummad puts it:
“Have you forgotten that once we were brought here, we were robbed of our name, robbed of our language. We lost our religion, our culture, our god … and many of us, by the way we act, we even lost our minds.”
Most have become English-speaking Christians, but some Africanisms do survive.
Colonization: Blacks are, in effect, an inner colony of the US, one that lives under violent White rule and provides cheap labour. Blacks do not control their own schools, police departments, courts, labour and housing markets, etc. No surprise Blacks suffer internalized racism and, according to the UN’s 2012 numbers, have a quality of life worse than Brazil’s (HDI = 0.70).
Black history (in 200 words or less):
- Slave times (1619-1865) – by 1700 slavery is tied to being born Black. Self-serving stereotypes duly follow that last down to this day: Blacks as lazy, unintelligent, criminal, etc. Slave uprisings are met with slave patrols, which lay the groundwork for the Klan – and present-day policing. The wealth of the nation is built on Dead Indian Land and the Backs of Black People. About 10% of Blacks are free.
- Emancipation and Reconstruction (1865-77) – Black slaves are freed and given the full rights of US citizenship – but not 16 hectares and a mule. But even that proved too much for White people:
- Jim Crow (1877-1967) – Blacks are kept apart and at the bottom of US society by law – and by Klan terror and lynchings when necessary. Leads to the Great Migration.
- Civil Rights Movement (1955-68) – Jim Crow laws overturned through protests, like Selma and the Freedom Rides. The rise of Black Power. The US government’s Cointelpro kills, imprisons or drives into exile Black leaders seen by Whites as too dangerous.
- The New Jim Crow (1969- ) – Blacks are sent to prison in unheard of numbers through draconian drug laws and racial profiling by police. Blacks lose half their wealth in the Great Black Depression (2007- ). In the wake of the Ferguson riot, a new protest movement is born: Black Lives Matter.
It is two steps forward, one step back.
– Abagond, 2017.
Update (January 9th): Used more up to date numbers from National Geographic for Black genetic ancestry, which, using different groupings, puts it at 92% African, 7% European.
Sources: National Geographic (2017), among others.
- also in this series:
- One Drop Rule
- UN report on Black American reparations
- The map of Black people
- internalized racism
- US slavery
- Jim Crow
- Civil Rights Era
- The New Jim Crow