America cannot be great when Black lives do not matter

17th June 2020

Images of violent police clashes with protestors from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and Minneapolis in between, can easily be mistaken as riots in any failed state. Yet these horrific images are from the very streets of America. Remember Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, and more recently, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor? Haven’t we said “enough is enough” enough times? Layer on a poorly managed pandemic and record unemployment, George Floyd is the last straw. The eruption of riots across the US is ripe in the making.

One of the freest nations in the world, America guarantees three unalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, except for when you are Black. African Americans had to fight for almost 100 years (87 to be exact) through blood and sacrifice for freedom and basic human rights. Through the years, from founding to present day, White Americans prospered yet the American Dream has eluded Blacks. It isn’t that African Americans didn’t get a fair start. They didn’t get a start at all. It’s hard to get anywhere when you are constantly struggling for survival and life. There is no American exceptionalism for the average Black person in America.

African Americans experience the greatest economic and health inequities from decades of systemic racism and discrimination. The Covid-19 pandemic magnifies the vulnerabilities among African Americans further – unemployment or frontline “essential” work that maximizes their exposure to the virus. African American lives are collateral damage in service to an economy that disadvantages them. Few had jobs that allowed them to work from home.

According to Yale Professor Amy Chua, America is a hyper power; the US dominates the world economically, militarily, technologically, and culturally. It follows a long list of empires -- Persia, Rome, Tang China, Mongol, Dutch, and the British Empire -- to have prospered through pluralism and strategic tolerance. The US has been able to attract the best and the brightest regardless of religion and origin and rise to global dominance. But Chua goes on to explain that intolerance and xenophobia are causes for the decline and ultimate demise of these empires.

When Reagan first uttered “…make America great again,” he intended for it to restore hope for Americans during one of its worse economic times. When Trump declared “Make America Great Again” his campaign slogan, his supporters hear it as taking back America from those (non-whites, immigrants, and refugees) who they perceive as taking away their rightful opportunities and privilege. Trump was able to feed on this sentiment to power him to electoral success. Trump supporters feel more emboldened to be racist, sexist, and xenophobic and to attack and debase those they don’t agree with or like. It is not ok to exclude or purge those who threaten their privilege. There is no liberty and justice for African Americans when their unalienable rights are brazenly dismissed. We ought to be outraged. America cannot be great when Blacks in America still have to fight for their lives.

Eddy Ng
James & Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management, Bucknell University
Editor-in-Chief, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

 

Related blogs

Blog

Author: Scott Taylor is Research Services Manager at the University of Manchester. The role of universities in public life is attracting much debate…

17th September 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Sapna A. Narula, Professor & Dean, School of Management Studies, Nalanda University, India It was hot sunny afternoon in open caste coal…

11th September 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Debbie Haski-Leventhal Drawing on her own personal journey and research from her recently published book, author Debbie-Haski-Leventhal…

4th September 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Charlotte Wilson, Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin Email:…

2nd September 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Jakob Linaa Jensen, Danish School of Media and Journalism, Denmark @jakoblinaa The platform economy of the Internet bears a strong…

2nd September 2020

Click here
Blog

Authors: Miguel Martínez Lucio, University of Manchester, UK (@mmartinezlucio) and Andy Hodder, University of Birmingham, UK (@hodderandy) When…

2nd September 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Ananya S Guha A lot is being discussed on online learning. Some argue that this will come to stay, while others say that because of the…

17th August 2020

Click here
Blog

Emerald’s Associate Publisher Sanna Zahoor talks to Goof Buijs – Manager at UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education – as he highlights the…

6th August 2020

Click here
Blog

Author: Johnny D. Jones, EdD, PhD Historically Black Colleges and Universities play an important role in US higher education, and make a significant…

5th August 2020

Click here
Blog

Authors: Dr. Leon Prieto and Dr. Simone Phipps The killing of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breona Taylor, Eric Garner, and many other black men and…

29th July 2020

Click here