Question 1: Why is Poverty so persistent in the African American community?
The African American community has always been related to a set of people with lesser income. The fact that African Americans are seen as lesser humans, justified their impoverished state until the fight for civil equality. After the abolition of slavery some African Americans were awarded lands that they worked on, but the vast majority were not. This led many African Americans to become Tenant Farmers and others domestic servants. The imprisonment of the patriarch, the inability for African Americans to find well paid jobs, and African Americans resorting to illegal activities all continue the cycle of poverty.
Firstly, the imprisonment of the male African American removed the head of the house and led the family to greater poverty. African Americans who had goals to establishing their own businesses to increase their income were seen as competition by White business owners. This led to raising tensions between the races. Law enforcement agents at the time were all White and were bias towards the Whites. African Americans were imprisoned for many trivial reasons. Angela Davis in a YouTube video said, the United States penitentiary was influenced by the illtreating of African Americans.
Secondly, the African Americans were not able to get well paying jobs because of civil inequality. “Millions of white Americans had become convinced that “too much” had been given to blacks in recent years.” (Years: 1976-Present). The Whites were outraged by the employments the Blacks were receiving which resulted in Drive-By shootings and many other acts of violence. By 1982 many African Americans were unemployed and were living under the poverty line. It is truly saddening to see that African Americans can be held back from progression because the Whites were outraged. Also, when the economy took a turn for the worst Blacks were the first people to be fired. Civil inequality has played a major role in the impoverish state of African Americans.
Additionally, the lack of well-paying jobs led African Americans to a life of crime to provide for their families. Marable and Mullins stated, “Such widespread poverty, such intense patterns of unemployment, hunger and homelessness, as well as the growth of global markets in drugs and arms, fostered the trafficking in illegal drugs.” (509). Many African Americans resorted to a life of crime to ensure their families were fed. This increased the crime rate and drug use in the United States. Selling drugs or guns is a quick and easy way to make money. The limitations that existed in a regular job do not exist in the criminal world. This quick fix never lasts, and all ends as soon as they are caught by law enforcement agents. Which results in them being incarcerated and their families in an impoverish state once again.
In conclusion, the cycle of poverty amongst African Americans are because of the imprisonment of the head of the house, the inability of them to acquire well paying jobs, and the resort to criminal activities as a main source of income. Established African Americans were potential competitors to White Businessmen. The White Businessmen sort to eliminate their competitors by getting them locked up or lynched. With the head of the house gone this left the matriarch to try to take care of her family on her own. The inability of African Americans to get well paying jobs and establish their own businesses legal led to an influx of criminal activities. Selling drugs and guns were seen as the only means to take care of their families. But this quick fix illegal method does not maintain a family’s wealth. After the Law Officers catch them, their families end up in the same predicament as before. This is the cycle of poverty amongst African Americans even in today’s communities.
The 1970s saw the birth of a new, urban-based culture and style of music known as Hip-Hop. This new genre was a reflection of the thoughts and feelings of the generation of inner city minorities born after the civil rights and the Black Power movement (Marable & Mullings, 2009). Like many black movements before it, Hip-Hop was met with some resistance but it somehow withstood the test of time and evolved into one of the largest cultural influences in the modern world.
The origins of Hip-Hop can be traced back to a 1970’s style of Jamaican music called Toasting. This style of music was characterized by using up-tempo, pre-recorded production and often times speaking the lyrics instead of singing them (HIST222 | Lesson 7, n.d.). Jamaican-born Clive Campbell, better known as DJ Kool Herc, migrated to the Bronx in 1967 and is credited for introducing a sound to urban America that would eventually evolve into Hip-Hop (Oumano, 2001). A few years after DJ Kool Herc laid the foundations for a new style of street music, an upcoming young disc jockey known as Afrika Bambaata began making waves in the local community. Bambaata is often credited as the “official” creator of the Hip-Hop genre (Hardy, 2001). Similar to black musicians in other genres such as The Temptations and Marvin Gaye, Bambaata would use Hip-Hop to spread a positive message to its listeners by denouncing drugs and gangs.
The 1980s and beyond saw Hip-Hop became a worldwide phenomenon. As Black Power sentiments began to slowly fade, rap music began to gain more white listeners and more African Americans began appearing on family television shows (Kelley & Lewis, 2005). The mainstream influence of Hip-Hop was becoming undeniable; moguls like Russell Simmons laid the blueprint for future entrepreneurs such as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Marion “Suge” Knight and James “lil’ Jay” Prince to name a few. Run DMC elevated rap superstardom to new heights by collaborating with ACDC and securing an endorsement deal with Adidas. Conscious rap and gangster rap both spoke on the social issues of the time, polarizing its listeners with groups like Public Enemy on one side and N.W.A. on the opposite end of that spectrum (Amistad Digital Resource, 2009).
Because Hip-Hop has broken down so many barriers over the years it can no longer be considered an exclusively black art form. Some of the biggest rap artists of all time are white or Hispanic, such as Eminem and Pitbull. Artists like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B have proven to the world that women can have just as much success if not more than their male counterparts. Every corner of the world has adapted its own style of rap, from the United Kingdom to Africa and even South Korea. Not every rap song has to be politically charged; some of the biggest Hip-Hop songs of all time are fun and lighthearted. There is no template; the artist has the freedom to be whoever they want to be. In my opinion this phenomenon occurs more in the arts that in science or religion because there are far less restrictions; there are no rules for making a rap song but science, for example, is rooted in facts and research.