Seven Score: Slavery in the 21st Century

However you may feel about affirmative action, figures show there are disparities that still exist between blacks and whites.

In this special Black History Month report, local experts tell us remnants of slavery may be to blame; the abolishment of slavery, Rosa Parks, desegregation, MLK, affirmative action.

Twenty-four percent of blacks live in poverty compared to nine percent of whites. While only 12 percent of the population is African American, they make up 50 percent of those incarcerated.

Blacks account for 52 percent of AIDS-related deaths. It’s because of this you'll hear African Americans say ‘we've come so far, yet we have so far to go.’

“Many of the problems African Americans have today may be traced back to the days of slavery,” says Larry Rivers, FAMU history professor.

FSU professor Dr. Na'im Akbar agrees, pointing to feelings of inferiority passed down through generations of black families.

“Even in 2004, you have 18 or 19-year-old mothers having babies and saying my baby is light skinned, my baby has bad hair. Meaning, my baby is better than yours because mine looks more white,” says Dr. Na'im Akbar.

Another tactic of slavery was divide and conquer. Dr. Akbar says even today African Americans continue to jockey for position within their own communities with a "who's side are you on?" mentality.

FAMU professor Cantor Brown says another contributor to the disparities is the failure of whites to recognize the achievements of blacks.

“As white people it is our tendency to look around and think, "white people did this." From 1513 to today, virtually every aspect of accomplishment can be attributed in part to African Americans,” says Dr. Cantor Brown.

Brown says lack of appreciation has caused the government and society to turn their backs on the needs of blacks.

“I think we need more representation of people of color in decision making positions and we are making some progress,” says Dr. Freddie Groomes, former FSU affirmative action director.


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