One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.Plato
While most Black boomers are either retired or nearing retirement, their children who are Gen-Xers and millennials have been made to navigate a labor market that has been transformed by the gig economy while saddling billions in student debt.
For this group, the road to middle-class stability runs through a wasteland, stripped of the political and economic infrastructure passed down to their boomer parents. There is hope, if you are a white millennial, help is on the way in the form of inheritance from white boomers. As for Black Gen-Xers and millennials, there will be no transference of wealth to undergird us or our children. It goes without saying that across generational lines, there is no collective interest as Black boomers have sacrificed the future we could have for their selfish happy ending. Unlike the generation before them, who sacrificed themselves to give flight to the next generation, boomers have sacrificed the next generation in exchange for their own comfort. As it stands, Black boomers will leave a legacy of anti-political assimilation, they will be forgotten.
The only thing worse than watching Congressman Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Lewis die on the job while advocating for immigration issues as if their districts’ racial makeup were not over 50-percent Black, was seeing Dr. Cornel West openly state that he was going to be voting for Joe Biden.
After all, if an intellectual giant and scholarly speaker of the truth could not find the strength and conviction to abstain from voting for “Jim Crow Joe”, then what faith could we have in the rest of the boomer generation’s ability to not undermine months of national anti-police brutality protests by packaging that energy into a vote that hands the presidency over to the chief warden of the carceral state.
It was all just so simple then. This is not to suggest that the lived experience of Black boomers was without difficulties. However, when evaluating differences between Black generations, it must be acknowledged how Black boomers were able to step into a benefits-rich space that was shaped by the Silent Generation’s collective struggles. The Silent Generation took bullets fighting systemic racism so that subsequent generations of American Descendants of Slavery could achieve the “American Dream”. Black boomers inherited civil rights legislation, affirmative action programs, and a new quasi-integrated America that offered unprecedented opportunities to Blacks. In turn, they have left behind barren, scourged fields on which Gen-Xers and millennials will die.
From 1953 to 1983, the American economy grew almost tenfold. Union membership was at an all-time high; 40 percent of African American males working in the private sector belonged to a union and that number stayed above a third until the early ’80s. College tuition for Black boomers was 57 percent cheaper than what it is today. And while the housing market has skyrocketed, median Black household income has not. The median Black household income has gone from a low $30K in 1983 to only $44K today. Similarly, high school graduation rates and bachelor’s degree attainment rates of Black millennials have more than doubled that of Black boomers’. Despite these apparent improvements, our wealth level has fallen from $6,300 in 1983, to $1,700 today.
I understand systemic racism impacts people in different ways, but what does it mean when a generation that received the most didn’t reciprocate the necessary political work needed to transform a community’s education and labor into a stable living? While Black boomers were trying their best to imitate the Huxtables, America was scaling back affirmative action, gutting labor unions, and funneling billions of dollars into a war on drugs that would change the trajectory of Black American families.
During the Great Depression, wealth held by the bottom 90 percent and the top 0.1 percent was equal. Between 1980 and 1990 the division of wealth held by these previous two groups was the largest it’s ever been with labor at its height owning 35 percent of the wealth and capital holders at 5 percent. Now those lines are headed for another intersection where 90 percent of labor and the top 0.01 percent of capital holders take home equal shares of wealth.
Bernie appealed to many millennials’ dream of getting out of debt and owning a home but that dream would never come to fruition. Black boomers dusted off Biden’s failing campaign with the guidance of Majority Whip James Clyburn, Biden took a decisive victory in the South Carolina primaries. Obama loomed in the background as Dem moderates who fared better in New Hampshire and Iowa all of sudden ended their campaigns in support for Biden. And just like that, gone was the conversation of Medicare for All, free college, student debt forgiveness and the most important issue of our times, reparations.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
Let me be very clear, Bernie’s platform never included reparations to ADOS, but the kind of administration needed to pass such a large and transformative bill would commonly align with leftist principles. There is no political world where a moderate known for befriending KKK members and segregationists would be fertile ground for the seeds of an ADOS reparations claim.
President-elect Biden will now become the 46th president of the United States due to getting over 87 percent of the Black vote. During an ABC interview, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Clybun, “How do you want Biden to pay you back?” In Judas-like fashion, Clyburn’s response was “I don’t want anything out of this.” This led to Biden’s stacking his administration with white moderates in key positions including his Crime Bill crony Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff. It should be no surprise that when Biden found time to speak with several African American organizational leaders, he scolded them and was unsympathetic to their concerns.
It took three or more generations to build the political and economic capital to win civil rights and all of its offering and in one generation, it has been squandered for magical beans. Black boomers have and continue to dig the graves of Gen-Xers and millennials, one apolitical decision at a time. We can no longer stand by taking dated advice as boomers neglect to transition gatekeeper positions, while dying on the job. If you want your roses, roses that many don’t deserve, you’re going to have to gracefully bow out, or prepare to be excommunicated by the ones you neglected to fight for.
This article was published on the ADOS Indianapolis website. It is reposted here with the permission of the author, Ibrahim Tanner, ADOS Indianapolis President @ibrahimtanner1 firstname.lastname@example.org