Northwest Missourian Opinion

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

I find it baffling how the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s delivery of that line fell 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. What’s more baffling is that, in some way, we’re all still waiting to join together to sing that old spiritual. Am I impatient, or does racism continue to hide its ugly face behind the mask of American leadership?

I beg the latter. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in hopes of freeing Black people from the “manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” Even 97 years without slavery wasn’t enough to cleanse America of racism. It’s been 57 years since King’s words reverberated from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and to this day, the Black community continues to fight for acceptance.

With the reigns of America being unwillingly passed from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden, there’s hope for the freedom King once spoke of.

During Trump’s presidency, many citizens of color were trapped in what could only be described as a nightmare in which you’re screaming but nobody can hear you. In 2020 specifically, Black Lives Matter gained more media coverage than ever, yet our cries were still not heard and bodies continued to crumple.

Personally, Trump’s America felt like walking on a burning tightrope with eggshells strapped to my feet. With Biden in office, what are the chances we’ll have to continue gasping for air in this vacuum of oppression?

The Black community has been through a lot in America regardless of who runs “the greatest country in the world.” In order to make us feel a little more welcome, here’s what I hope Biden will do for the Black community as he takes over the White House.

Condemn white supremacist groups. This is something Trump failed to do in his presidential debate, almost instantly brewing anger and shock in me. I find it appalling that Black Lives Matter was created to, and still stands to, combat police brutality and fight for justice for Black individuals in America, but its supporters are constantly coined as thugs and domestic terrorists. Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan has a history of horrifying organized hate crimes and still can outwardly operate without the label of a terrorist group.

Create a platform for acceptance. It seemed like whenever Trump started his presidency, division accompanied him. It became a battle of the lefts and rights, the proud boys and the rioters, the sensitive and the desensitized. America has been at odds for far too long, and it only proves to be destructive. Black people should not be antagonized for being Republican, and Democrats should not be synonymous with radicalism. We’re all American, and we have to start working together as such.

Don’t talk about it; be about it. Biden has proposed a plan to help increase Black mobility by investing in Black-owned businesses and making it easier for them to access credit and capital. Black businesses are highly underappreciated but are such a staple in the community that they become almost necessary in keeping Black individuals stable.

On average, minority-owned businesses receive customer reviews that are just as high as white-owned businesses. However, in Black-majority neighborhoods, only 30% of businesses produce profit margins at or above 15%, compared to 70% of businesses in white-majority neighborhoods. We don’t need Trump’s “Platinum Plan” which was created as a last ditch effort to sway Black voters; we need action.

Give us a break. 2020 has been a constant push to convince America that Black lives do, in fact, matter. At one point, it seemed like each day spawned a new argument to make, a new protest to attend, a new petition to sign or unfortunately, a new justice hashtag to post. With the amount of names that could be used to fill in the blank, the hashtag became a disturbing game of hangman. We’re tired — scratch that, we’re exhausted.

The Black community has been strong for all of its existence and deserves a lot of credit for how society works today. The president needs to understand the complexity and necessity of each group, so that we can all be free like the dream King had for all.

“This note was a promise that all men, yes, Black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," King said. 

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