People of African descent in the United States (US) are the most vulnerable due to the underdevelopment of the communities, poverty, and social exclusion. The main reason for these problems is racial discrimination which has denied African Americans access to essential resources that can foster development in their communities. The Head of State and Government at the United Nations (UN) summit in September 2015 (A/RES/70/1 offers relief to people of African descent by providing an avenue for ending racism (De la Rosa Ruiz et al. 15). The goal is to ensure America can achieve the 2030 agenda for Sustainable development. However, with racism, poor access to fundamental rights, inequalities, and slavery, it is impossible to achieve the 2030 agenda as African American communities’ underdevelopment status will always cause the nation to lag behind its vision of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Development is more than economic growth as it encompasses people’s freedom. African Americans lack the freedom to advance their career life and even families to reach the highest social mobility. For years, freedom has been something of a necessity as African Americans face discrimination in all aspects of their lives. Their African descent is a primary cause of such discrimination. According to Walter Rodney, Africa is commonly referred to as a developing continent to imply that it has not established itself and requires support from the West to develop (321). As a result, such conceptualization makes African Americans face discrimination because of their African descent, which denies them essential resources to advance themselves. Their housing facilities are underdeveloped, and access to a steady supply of power, water, and even education. The implication is that they are used to living initially in Africa, so no one cares about their vulnerability and freedom to become successful. However, the government negates the essentiality of ensuring freedom and equal development in achieving its agendas. As some parts are underdeveloped, it is challenging to achieve the nation’s development in its entirety.
Slavery plays a significant part in the underdevelopment of African Americans communities. Colonialism is to blame for making African Americans leave Africa for the US. The pursuit of cheap and readily available resources in Africa, combined with the need for enslaved people to work in white plantations, saw many people of African descent getting shipped to the US. As a result, the year of turmoil and exploitation has left Africa American communities with deep scars of being overlooked in employment. Based on Yaa Gyasi’s observations in “Homegoing,” Robert is of African American descent, which explains why he obtains work but quickly loses it after people discover that he is not white (211). To please his white friends, Robert also violates his wife, Willie. The feelings of inadequacy as a descendant of enslaved people make Robert accept white supremacy and African American inferiority. Many African Americans feel that it is okay to work in less-paying jobs and always leave better chances to their white counterparts as, for many years, their parents have worked as domestic workers and farm employees. Poor chances of better employment accruing from years of being enslaved have made African American communities less developed.
The lack of African American rights and liberty has equally undeveloped the communities. Sterling Stuckey argues that “Walker’s mother had to register herself
and David as free Negroes and to obtain the badges of cloth” means that people of African descent had to prove their worth as human beings to become free though they could never obtain all fundamental rights (110). When people have fundamental rights, they gain the liberty to develop their communities through better education access and employment. However, that has not been the case for African Americans in the US, as many of them face criminal charges for pursuing courses such as drug selling to obtain basic needs due to a lack of employment. With limited rights, it becomes challenging to maneuver the system like their white counterparts. Although African Americans were allowed to participate in politics, seek employment and even vote after the civil war, their access to such rights remains highly limited (Drakulich et al. 391). The constrained nature of such rights makes their communities underdeveloped because most people work in low-paying jobs and young people are prone to arrests leaving the elderly to support themselves.
Racism continues to underdevelop African American communities. Unlike previous centuries, today’s US enjoys a thriving black middle class deriving its success from access to quality education, occupation, and income. However, the issue of racism denies the majority of blacks the chance to enjoy their ascribed status. The impact of their skin color tells a lot about their originality and way of treatment. For Africa to develop, Rodney observes that it must be like the West (323). This requirement implies that Blacks must be equal to whites to access all essential resources that can help develop their communities. Nonetheless, that cannot happen in a nation commonly referred to as a melting pot. The whites remain the dominant race, with the rest, like Blacks facing the heat of racism. Gyasi presents Akua, Abena’s daughter, who experiences racism in a missionary church (189). She gets forced to feel like a heathen and a sinner due to her African descent. As a result, she becomes depressed, leaving the church to marry and gain a sense of worth. Such instances are the experiences of many African Americans that find it challenging to achieve their set goals as a society always sets limits for them based on their color.
Similarly, Europe’s economic domination and expansionism have caused African American communities to remain underdeveloped. Rodney argues that colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism are to blame for such pursuits because “Colonialism was not merely a system of exploitation, but one whose essential purpose was to repatriate the profits to the so-called mother country” (178). Such a move led to Europe’s development and Africa’s underdevelopment. Moreover, Africans had to supply their labor for free or at a small wage in European plantations to survive, further supporting the capitalistic economy that sought to maximize profits at the expense of the workers. The implication of this tendency is African American Communities that continue to face domination and suffer the heat of capitalism. The low wages and salaries people of African descent earn are not enough to develop their communities. Their states find it challenging to collect enough taxes that can help develop them. This tendency is because the capitalistic system is exploitative to low-wage and salary earners. If African Americans could have better income, it would be easy to develop their communities even without the intervention of the government.
Inequality in society paves the way for underdevelopment in African American communities. Rodney observes that in every colony, the education budget was minimal compared to the amounts spent on Europe’s economy (277). This statement implies that inequalities experienced in black communities have a history. Since colonialism, Blacks have experienced high inequalities in all aspects. Education is vital in empowering people to have a growth mentality. Nevertheless, when African Americans obtain minimal education, it reflects in their thinking capacity and desire for societal changes. In families where parents have focused more on criminal activities than education, the same gets passed over to children, which explains why many blacks serve jail terms in US prisons. According to Baldwin, blacks constitute 80 to 90 percent of all people sent to jail on drug charges (431). While this is alarming, it is essential to question why such a high number is solely from African American communities. The answer would be the high rates of inequality in resource allocation that makes many people of African descent strive to provide for their families by any means. Moreover, by making such arrests, black families suffer neglect and poor providence, worsening the community’s situation. Therefore, inequality serves to foster poor development in African American communities.
Among these pressing causes of African American communities, racism plays the most prominent role in fostering high levels of underdevelopment. The first effect of racism is the disruption of the peace of a nation. The limitation of privileges of African Americans instigates feelings of anger and betrayal by the dominant class. As a result, hate groups such as Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis arise to counter years of racism, further worsening the harmony of society (Fausset et al. 179). When society considers each other as the other, there cannot be equal development. The dominant class will always oppress marginalized groups. The SDGs seek to eradicate poverty as a global challenge (Roa et al. 47). If the US can counter the significant effect of racism, it can help foster equality and offer black people better education access, employment, end discrimination, and offer better income. Such a move is relevant in empowering them to develop their communities.
African American communities require an overhaul. After many tears of oppression, a ray of hope is possible with an end to racism, as it can offer equality, fairness in education, and access to fundamental human rights and freedom. For a community to establish itself, it requires enough resources and support from the government. While slavery played a significant role in demeaning the worthy of backs, it does not make them less human. Most of them have moved up the social ladder and occupy better positions in government, indicating that anyone can make it in life with self-will and support. A community with educated people cannot fail to develop. Such communities raise great leaders who can agitate for the rights of people and the required resources for development. Moreover, with the government pushing for the achievement of the SDGs, it is only those that understand its essence that can help back communities benefit from the proposed benefits. The nation must move past the effect of slavery ad imperialism and counter-check the adverse effects of capitalism to help people of African descent have better-thriving communities.
Baldwin, Bridgette. “Black, white, and blue: Bias, profiling, and policing in the age of Black Lives Matter.” W. New Eng. L. Rev. 40 2018: 431.
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Drakulich, Kevin, et al. “Race and policing in the 2016 presidential election: Black lives matter, the police, and dog whistle politics.” Criminology 58.2 2020: 370–402.
Fausset, Richard, and Alan Feuer. “Far-right groups surge into national view in Charlottesville.” White Nationalists: Who Are They and What Do They Believe? (2019): 179.
Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing. Penguin UK, 2016. 1–313.
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Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Verso Books, 2018. 1–379.
Stuckey, Sterling. Slave culture: Nationalist theory and the foundations of Black America. Oxford University Press, 2013. 1–512.