Covid-19, Vaccines, and Black America. Is there a Nefarious Correlation?

“Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the ‘storm came and the wind blew’.

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” 

– Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens from The Cornerstone Speech 1861

I felt this was a sobering yet apt quote to commence writing this particular post. I wanted to address this subject concerning the Black Descendants of American Slavery through a lens of knowing our position in the country our ancestors built. I felt this was necessary because in speaking on this subject, one should not approach it from ignorance concerning the history of a certain section of the American population that has endured and continues to endure adversity. 

Several days ago, I was running through posts on social media and came across this comment:

COVID-19 was created in a Lab for the money grab and population control of ADOS. Check out Bill Gates. The media has our people in hysteria as the media pushes covid cases and deaths juxtaposed against declining numbers of flu, influenza, heart disease and cancer deaths. Not buying it, especially a vaccine that hasn’t been tested for at least 20 years. Me nor mine are lab rats!

I wanted to address this comment in a larger conversation concerning this pandemic and the Freedmen Descendant population specifically. There are a lot of Black American people who are in a similar mind space or a more extreme position to cross into the realm of conspiracy theory. I believe that the points of this comment should be dealt with in a nuanced way because I understand where the thought patterns come from with Black America and the medical industry. Now before I begin to address the points in this comment, let’s start from the place where this discourse comes. 

Black Americans have a major distrust of the Medical Industry. Their distrust is not unwarranted. Unfortunately, Black people in America have experienced a number of malpractice mishaps.  James Marion Sims is considered the ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ who pioneered tools and surgical techniques related to women’s reproductive health. Although he was very groundbreaking in this field, he developed his techniques by conducting research on enslaved Black women without anesthesia. He operated under a false and racist notion that Black people did not feel pain. Today, we know three of the names of the female fistula patients from Sims’s own records—Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey. The first one he operated on was 18-year-old Lucy, who had given birth a few months prior and hadn’t been able to control her bladder since. During the procedure, patients were completely naked and asked to perch on their knees and bend forward onto their elbows so their heads rested on their hands. Lucy endured an hour-long surgery, screaming and crying out in pain, as nearly a dozen other doctors watched. As Sims later wrote, “Lucy’s agony was extreme.” She became extremely ill due to his controversial use of a sponge to drain the urine away from the bladder, which led her to contract blood poisoning. “I thought she was going to die…it took Lucy two or three months to recover entirely from the effects of the operation,”

Sims’s racist beliefs affected more than his gynecological experiments. Before and after his gynecological experiments, he also tested surgical treatments on enslaved Black children in an effort to treat “trismus nascentium” (neonatal tetanus)—with little to no success. Sims also believed that Black Americans were less intelligent than white people, and thought it was because their skulls grew too quickly around their brain. He would operate on Black children using a shoemaker’s tool to pry their bones apart and loosen their skulls.

Moving to another event in Medical Apartheid history, one cannot also forget the Tuskegee Experiment which was an infamous study on Syphilis.  The Tuskegee experiment began in 1932, at a time when there was no known treatment for syphilis. After being recruited by the promise of free medical care, 600 men originally were enrolled in the project. The participants were primarily sharecroppers, and many had never before visited a doctor. Doctors from the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), which was running the study, informed the participants—399 men with latent syphilis and a control group of 201 others who were free of the disease—they were being treated for bad blood, a term commonly used in the area at the time to refer to a variety of ailments.In order to track the disease’s full progression, researchers provided no effective care as the men died, went blind or insane or experienced other severe health problems due to their untreated syphilis.

Cases like these and others like the unfortunate story of Henrietta Lacks whose cells from her cervix were bought, sold, packaged, and shipped by the trillions to laboratories around the world, would absolutely warrant any Black American who descends from Chattel Slavery to run screaming from any medical professional coming within ten feet of them. Even in the 21st century, Black Americans are still experiencing adverse disparities in healthcare driven by lack of health resources in our communities and also implicit biases that health care professionals possess. In an NCBI article entitled Health Disparities: Gaps in Access, Quality and Affordability of Medical Care, Wayne J. Riley MD, MPH, MBA, MACP writes,

“…analysis revealed even more objective evidence of major differences and raised the specter of the role of bias and discrimination with regard to populations with equal access to healthcare. Underscoring the resultant discrepant quality of care experienced by populations as manifested in the appropriateness of clinical care and patient preferences, and the often confusing and challenging nature of the healthcare system and its legal and regulatory environment, are the roles of bias, discrimination, and uncertainty.”

Now in 2020, we are experiencing a global pandemic. Data has revealed that this pandemic, specifically in America, has resulted in 16 million cases and close to 300,000 deaths. According to Satistica, as of December 2, 2020, around 20 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been among non-Hispanic Black or African Americans (Slavery Descendants mostly). Keep in mind that Black Americans make up roughly 13% of the United States population. This statistic shows that there is a disproportionate number of Covid-19 mortalities in our communities. 

Referring back to the opening social media comment, we see the claim that COVID-19 was created in a Lab for the money grab and population control of ADOS. Looking at the statistics and the histories of healthcare towards Black Americans that I mentioned in earlier paragraphs, that could be assessed as a tantamount correlation. Although this is seemingly so, it is important to note that correlation is not always causation. 

Viruses have been part of  existence even before human evolution. Although viruses have existed before humans, they were not discovered by humans until about 1892, namely by two scientists named Dmitri Ivanoski and Martinus Beijerinck. They first discovered them from a diseased tobacco plant. It was not until 1898 that the word virus was coined. Beijerinck used this term to show the incitant (an inciting agent or factor, as an infectious agent, that is the essential causative agent of a particular disease) of the tobacco mosaic. He showed that the incitant was able to migrate in an agar gel, therefore being an infectious soluble agent, or a ‘contagium vivum fluidum’ and definitively not a ‘contagium fixum’ as would be a bacteria. They were able to bring an unequal but decisive and complementary contribution to the discovery of viruses. Scientists use their body of work to this very day. 

Just as natural selection has shaped the evolution of humans, plants, and all living things on the planet, natural selection shapes viruses, too. Though viruses aren’t technically living – they need a host organism in order to reproduce – they are subject to evolutionary pressures.

The human immune system uses a number of tactics to fight pathogens. The pathogen’s job is to evade the immune system, create more copies of itself, and spread to other hosts. Characteristics that help a virus do its job tend to be kept from one generation to another. Characteristics that make it difficult for the virus to spread to another host tend to be lost.

Take, for example, a virus that has a mutation that makes it particularly deadly to its human host and kills the host within a few hours of infection. The virus needs a new, healthy host for its descendents to survive. If it kills its host before the host infects others, that mutation will disappear. Because of this, we have experienced in history how previous pandemics, like the Spanish Flu, operated in this manner. It specifically killed its host before the virus itself was able to mutate and eventually disappeared. The last recorded case of Spanish Flu was in April 1920.

Another thing to note concerning viruses is the notion that they are or can be created. Now, is it possible to engineer viruses? In my research on this specific subject, the short answer is yes. According to Leslie Snider, a biotechnology instructor at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, “Not only is it possible to engineer viruses to be beneficial, it is already being done.” Now with that being said, it is important to keep in mind what point Prof. Snider was speaking on. The professor goes on to say, “Viruses have primarily been engineered for use by humans as so-called recombinant (or subunit) vaccines. In this technology, the genetic material of a harmful virus is analyzed to identify the gene or genes that encode the antigens (identifying proteins) that trigger the body’s immune response. These genes can then be isolated and inserted into host cells, usually bacteria or yeast. The host cells in turn manufacture the antigens in large quantities. The antigens are injected into humans and result in the formation of ‘memory’ B cells, which are tailored to the alien antigen, thereby protecting against the disease caused by the whole virus.” The utilization of this technique mostly is used to treat the infectious nature of viruses to a host. 

Currently, there is no proper empirical evidence that engineered viruses specifically have been used en masse to cull or thin specific populations of people. Offensive biological warfare, including mass production, stockpiling, and use of biological weapons, was outlawed by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The rationale behind this treaty, which has been ratified or acceded to by 170 countries as of April 2013, is to prevent a biological attack which could conceivably result in large numbers of civilian casualties and cause severe disruption to economic and societal infrastructure. Many countries, including signatories of the BWC, currently pursue research into the defense or protection against biological warfare, which is not prohibited by the BWC. 

Another thing that is undesirable using this tactic is that it would take days to be effective, and therefore might not immediately stop an opposing force. Some biological agents (smallpox, pneumonic plague) have the capability of person-to-person transmission via aerosolized respiratory droplets. This feature can be undesirable, as the agent(s) may be transmitted by this mechanism to unintended populations, including neutral or even friendly forces. Worse still, such a weapon could “escape” the laboratory where it was developed, even if there was no intent to use it – for example by infecting a researcher who then transmits it to the outside world before realizing that they were infected. Several cases are known of researchers becoming infected and dying of Ebola, which they had been working with in the lab (though nobody else was infected in those cases) – while there is no evidence that their work was directed towards Biological Warfare,  it demonstrates the potential for accidental infection even of careful researchers fully aware of the dangers. 

In the overall case of Covid 19 and Freedmen Descendants, I prefer to use Occam’s razor, which is the principle that, of two explanations that account for all the facts, the simpler one is more likely to be correct. The bottom line is that there are far more efficient ways to control a population than using less predictable properties like viruses. Going back to the statistic of 20% of the Covid deaths in America being Black (primarily Freedmen) mostly correlates to the causation of rampant poverty in our communities and the existence of health care disparities that have existed for the most part since the United States has existed. 

As far as Bill Gates and his existence in the this space, I came across a video by The Medical Futurist that addresses this particular Conspiracy:

We as a society have been living under the restrictions of the pandemic since March of 2020. Since this time, different organizations have been working on vaccines. There are over 100 currently in development and one so far has been approved by the FDA. On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for a vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older. The emergency use authorization allows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. According to their reported data, Pfizer’s phase 3 trial findings concluded that it was ‘95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose’. 

The trial evaluated 170 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with ‘162 observed in the placebo group versus eight in the vaccine group’.The trial also found that ‘efficacy was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics’; with ‘observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age’ at ‘over 94%’. The data also demonstrated that the vaccine was ‘well tolerated across all populations’, amid 43,000 trial participants, with ‘no serious safety concerns observed’. The only ‘adverse event’ which was ‘greater than 2% in frequency’ was fatigue – experienced by 3.8% of vaccine recipients – and a headache, which 2% experienced.

Pfizer and vaccine development partner BioNTech utilized a technology called messenger RNA. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into the bodies. Messenger RNA vaccines work differently. Instead, they teach the cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside the human body. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects humans from getting infected if the real virus enters the body. Although mRNA vaccines are new, the technology to develop them is not. Researchers have been studying and working with them for decades.  Messenger RNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods of making vaccines.

 Going back to the foundation comment used to formulate this post, specifically to the point of a vaccine that hasn’t been tested for at least 20 years, exploring the information of mRNA technology being researched for decades and used as of late in the case of Covid-19 is not a giant leap in my eyes. Haven’t we witnessed technology in other realms move from looking one way to another? In my own lifetime, I have personally witnessed computers going from bulky components being scaled down into laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  I have seen records being the primary source of uninterrupted music migrate to MP3’s and streaming services. I’ve also seen personally the use of televisions that were once housed in ornate wooden cabinets to be lightweight flatscreens that can be hung on a wall like a piece of art. 

So far in my probing concerning this subject, I do not believe that Covid-19 was engineered for Freedmen Descendant population control. Even looking at the claim of the virus being created for the “money grab”, the top 30 billionaires that have seen an increase in wealth during the pandemic were not amongst those in pharmaceuticals. That noted, the Pfizer vaccine is reported to be of an out of pocket cost of less than $20 to no cost for a patient. 

Trump appointed Coronavirus vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui, recently urged Black Americans to put aside concerns about the vaccine, saying ‘nobody’s being used as a guinea pig’. As much as I personally have no issue blaming practically everything wrong in the world on Racism White Supremacy, the existence of the Covid-19 virus is not one of them. In the aforementioned cited source of Statistica concerning Covid 19 deaths in America, 55% of the deaths in the United States were Caucasions. With that number, I am not of the mind that a virus manufactured to control my community’s population would have such a high mortality amongst Whites.

I was told by another that touted similar conspiracy theories concerning this virus, vaccines, etc to do my research on said claims and “see for myself” what is happening to my group. I have done my research and I am of the same mind that I was before concerning Covid-19 and Freedmen. Our issues concerning the pandemic are socioeconomically engineered like practically EVERYTHING  we deal with in America concerning our lack of access to what it means to be in proper position as citizens. Next step, as I often implore, is to be politically engaged, not conspiratorial. 


Distribution of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) deaths in the United States as of December 2, 2020, by race*

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine:


How Much Will A Covid-19 Vaccine Cost?

Is it possible to engineer viruses to perform specific tasks within a human host–that is, to create viruses that are beneficial rather than detrimental to human health?

2 people had allergic reactions to Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot. Here’s what’s in it.

Viruses and Evolution:

Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines:

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk among US billionaires getting richer during coronavirus pandemic:

Debunking COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories:

Coronavirus vaccine czar urges Black Americans to put aside concerns about the vaccine, saying ‘nobody’s being used as a guinea pig’:

The Epidemic of Violence in Freedmen Communities

Summer in Chicago has arrived, and with it comes elevated incidents of gun violence. On July 22, 2020, reports came in that 15 people were shot outside of a funeral home on the South Side of Chicago. According to , “An unknown number of people inside a vehicle shot at a crowd attending a funeral on West 79th Street in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, police said. The individuals on the street then exchanged gunfire with the people in the vehicle, according to authorities.”

This particular story is not the only incident of gun violence reported. On July 31st, a 9 year old boy named Janari Ricks was also killed. According the Chicago Tribune, “On Friday evening, Janari was playing with friends behind the Cabrini Green townhomes in the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue when a gunman opened fire into a parking lot around 6:45 p.m., striking and killing the boy, an unintended target, Chicago police said. Police officials said they did not know who the target was. He was rushed to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he died.”

The same news story reported that this killing happened as the city experiences the highest number of criminal homicides in any given month since 1992.  “In July, Chicago recorded 105 such homicides, more than double the 44 the same month last year, according to the Police Department. The city last saw a higher monthly total in September of 1992, when 109 homicides were recorded, the data shows.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot posted a series of tweets about this latest homicide. “Gun violence is every bit a public health crisis as COVID-19,” she wrote. “It’s well past time that we as a nation begin aggressively treating it through wraparound services, mental health supports and street outreach interventions, support for our community police officers, and — yes — federal gun control to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands.”

Gun violence is not a new phenomenon in Chicago. President Donald Trump likes to frequently remark about Chicago and its issues with violence. During a briefing with reporters at the Oval Office, Trump said, “How about Chicago? I read the numbers where many people killed over the weekend. We’re looking at Chicago, too. We’re looking at New York. Look at what’s going on. All run by Democrats. All run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left. But, we can’t let this happen to the cities.”

So does Chicago’s violence stem from the city being primarily run by Democrats like President Trump says? While it is true that the majority of cities that are considered the most violent have Democratic mayors, it is important to note where the most violence occurs in these cities have a tendency to be the poorest. Looking at Chicago, the most reported violent neighborhood is West Garfield Park, which is located on the city’s West Side. According to, the largest population by race that occupies this area is Black, non-Hispanic which is around 15,888. White non-Hispanic is 358, Hispanic or Latino is 447, and Asian non-Hispanic is 55. According to CMAP, Black non-Hispanic holds about 93% of the population. The Median Income is $24,591 and about 2,706 households have an income less than 25,000 a year. About 18% of the total population is unemployed and 43% of the population live under the federal poverty line.

I would argue that the demographics like these are reflected in the most violent neighborhoods in America. This leads me to believe that high unemployment and rampant poverty is a recipe for unbridled violence.

So how has America handled unbridled violence in the past? Let’s look at the era of Prohibition. Prohibition in the United States (authorized by the Volstead Act) was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. Following the ban, criminal gangs gained control of the beer and liquor supply in many cities. By the late 1920s, a new opposition to prohibition emerged nationwide. Critics attacked the policy as causing crime, lowering local revenues, and imposing “rural” Protestant religious values on “urban” America. It has been argued that organized crime received a major boost from Prohibition. Mafia groups and other criminal organizations and gangs had mostly limited their activities to prostitution, gambling, and theft until 1920, when organized “rum-running” or “bootlegging” emerged in response to Prohibition. A profitable – often violent – black market for alcohol flourished. Prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to thrive. In one study of more than 30 major U.S. cities during the Prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicides by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6%, and police department costs rose by 11.4%. This was largely the result of “black-market violence” and the diversion of law enforcement resources elsewhere. Despite the Prohibition movement’s hope that outlawing alcohol would reduce crime, the reality was that the Volstead Act led to higher crime rates than were experienced prior to Prohibition and the establishment of a black market dominated by criminal organizations.

 According to Harvard University historian Lisa McGirr, prohibition had a disproportionately adverse impact on African-Americans, immigrants and poor Whites, as law enforcement used alcohol prohibition against these communities. Criminal gangs had run amok in American cities since the late 19th-century, but they were mostly bands of street thugs running small-time extortion and loansharking rackets in predominantly ethnic Italian, Jewish, Irish, and Polish neighborhoods. The underworld power dynamics shifted dramatically with the onset of Prohibition and the overnight outlawing of every bottle of beer, glass of wine and shot of booze in America. With legitimate bars and breweries out of business, someone had to step in to fuel the substantial thirst of the Roaring Twenties. And no one was better equipped than the mobsters. The most famous bootlegger during this time was Al Capone. Kingpins like Al Capone were able to rake in up to $100 million each year thanks to the overwhelming business opportunity of illegal booze.

In the 1920s, Charles “Lucky” Luciano was famous for bringing together some of New York’s biggest Italian and Jewish mobsters to dominate the city’s bootlegging business. In Chicago, Johnny Torrio kept a fragile peace between his Italian-run bootlegging operation in the city’s South Side and the Irish and Polish gangs working the North Side. But it didn’t last. By the time Torrio’s protégé Al Capone took over, it was an all-out turf war. In the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929, Capone’s men dressed as police officers and gunned down seven of the rival gang’s henchmen.

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president. Prohibition ended and the Roosevelt championed initiatives like the New Deal that was able to put millions of Americans back to work. During his first two terms in office, Roosevelt pushed legislation through Congress that set a new standard for government intervention in the economy.  Despite vigorous action, the economy did not respond as Roosevelt had hoped.  On the eve of World War II, unemployment rates still hovered around twenty percent and industrial production remained stagnant. Although the New Deal did not end the Depression, it was a success in restoring public confidence and creating new programs that brought relief to millions of Americans.

Fast forwarding to the 1990’s, some of the same conditions that bred organized crime in the predominantly ethnic Italian, Jewish, Irish and Polish neighborhoods were reflected in the predominately urban Black American neighborhoods. Instead of alcohol fueling the underground market, the new cash crop is drugs. American legislation did not respond the same way it did during Prohibition. Instead we had the announcement of the War on Drugs in the 1980’s and the 1994 Crime Bill that helped ramp up mass incarceration. The Brennan Center succinctly summarized that legacy on the 20th anniversary of the bill’s passage:

“It expanded the death penalty, creating 60 new death penalty offenses under 41 federal capital statutes. It eliminated education funding for incarcerated students, effectively gutting prison education programs. Despite a wealth of research showing education increases post-release employment, reduces recidivism, and improves outcomes for the formerly incarcerated and their families, this change has not been reversed.

And the bill created a wave of change toward harsher state sentencing policy. That change was driven by funding incentives: the bill’s $9.7 billion in federal funding for prison construction went only to states that adopted truth-in-sentencing (TIS) laws, which lead to defendants serving far longer prison terms. Within 5 years, 29 states had TIS laws on the books, 24 more than when the bill was signed. New York State received over $216 million by passing such laws. By 2000 the state had added over 12,000 prison beds and incarcerated 28 percent more people than a decade before.

All types of questions could be asked about why America has responded to violence in primarily Black communities punitively rather than dealing with it socio-economically. The fact is that America is still a highly racist society and has based its policies in that way. Lee Atwater, American political consultant and strategist for the Republican Party, said this when speaking about the Republican Southern strategy:

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger”. By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger”. So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the back-burner.

The coding of the Southern Strategy is so pervasive that it has entered into the political structure in liberal cities such as Chicago yet the real change needed has not been attempted.

I argue it is now time to approach violence in a holistic sense and declare it as a public health crisis.  In an article entitled The Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention published by the CDC, it says:

“The focus of public health is on the health, safety and well-being of entire populations. A unique aspect of the approach is that it strives to provide the maximum benefit for the largest number of people.

Public health draws on a science base that is multi-disciplinary. It relies on knowledge from a broad range of disciplines including medicine, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, criminology, education, and economics. This broad knowledge base has allowed the field of public health to respond successfully to a range of health conditions across the globe.

The public health approach also emphasizes input from diverse sectors including health, education, social services, justice, policy and the private sector. Collective action on the part of these stakeholders can help in addressing problems like violence.”

The article also outlines a 4 step approach to Violence Prevention:

  1. Define and Monitor the Problem
  2. Identify Risk and Protective Factors
  3. Develop and Test Prevention Strategies
  4. Assure Widespread Adoption

Step three and four are exceptionally crucial because it would use findings from the research literature and an evidence-based approach to program planning and then implement and adopt them more broadly.

Freedmen Descendants of Chicago along with Illinois Representative LaShawn Ford and Avalon Park Community Church is advocating for House Resolution HR0433 to become law in Illinois. This current resolution is outlining measure to declare violence as a public health crisis.

Full Text of Bill attached below:


We cannot continue to use punitive measures and expect non-retaliatory results. Violence needs to be declared a public health crisis because it is a disease. It is mainly a disease that directly correlates to rampant poverty and systemic depression of Black Communities that are primarily Freemen Descendants in population.

Please visit  and sign the petition to show your support in making HR0433 into law and support an Executive Order to be signed by the Illinois Governor to release rapid relief in Black Communities ravaged by Covid-19 and violence. We need to put the kibosh on gun violence in Black communities. The only way to do that is to insist on legislation that gets to the root of the problem. Also share the website on your family, friends, and social media platforms. Together we can make a real difference to end the challenges of racism and poverty that have plagued our nation for centuries.

Still we should advocate for reparations for the Freedmen Descendants.

Still we should advocate for local equity in our states and municipalities.

Still we should advocate for the resources to make Black people that descend from Chattel Slavery a whole people.

Cynthia McDonald – CHW and ADOS Advocate

The Physical and Mental Assault on Freedmen Descendants

Recent events that have transpired have caused me to do much reflection.  We as a nation have found out three separate individuals in three separate cities have lost their lives at the hands of the police or vigilantes. Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was chased by armed white residents of a South Georgia neighborhood. He was shot and killed on Feb 23, 2020. It wasn’t until the video of his death was uploaded on the internet that went viral ignited a public cry for the killers to be arrested and charged for murder. His killers (Gregory McMichael, and his son Travis McMichael) were arrested and charged on Thursday May 7, 2020 . On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove who entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, while serving a “no-knock warrant”. Taylor was shot eight times. Although there is a wrongful death suit, there have been no arrests of the officers. The latest was George Floyd  who died May 25, 2020, in Powderhorn, a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was arrested by police for allegedly passing on a counterfeit $20 bill at a local grocery store called Cup Foods. Four officers arrived to the scene where an officer named Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd for approximately 8 mins. He died later at a hospital he was taken to by ambulance. Derek Chauvin was arrested 5 days later and charged with third degree murder. 

These deaths have sparked national outcrys and we are seeing people taking to the streets screaming “Black Lives Matter” and the like. We are also seeing fires, looting, and all the adverse behaviors because of the lack of social justice Black Americans especially Freedmen have yet to experience. Breonna Taylor, Amaud Abrey, and George Floyd are not the only Black Americans that have lost their lives. There are other names. So many other names and the list keeps getting longer. 

It is obvious to see the physical implications of Black Americans disproportionately losing their lives to these events, not alone of the pandemic at large. In a 2018 article A Critical Analysis of the Shootings of Unarmed African Americans by Police: A Social Work Perspective by Senneca Davis, she writes, “Whites in the US is 63.7%, African Americans 12.6%, 16.3% Hispanic (U.S.Census Bureau, 2011). As can be seen from these numbers, African Americans are overrepresented in these fatality statistics by at least a margin of 2:1. Whereas hispanic representation is near to population levels at around 16-17%. Moreover, it has been found that unarmed African Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be shot than their unarmed White counterparts (Mapping Police Violence, 2015). Also, African Americans who are armed but do not pose an imminent threat towards the police are more likely to be killed than Whites, Hispanics, and Asians (Mapping Police Violence, 2015). The numbers bare out what the following theoretical analysis unpacks: historical and socio-cultural factors result in social injustice for African Americans apropos their experiences with the use of deadly force and police.” She later writes, “Issues of racial inequality, oppression and discrimination have persisted as social problems in the United States since the use of slavery as a means of production, nation building and social control. Severe inequality is accepted in U.S. culture and the legacy of slavery, without a doubt, affects cultural conceptions of African Americans today.”

What about the mental implications at large? I know when I saw George Floyd’s life slipping away despite his pleas, I felt a flood of emotions. Anger, sadness, and helplessness were what befell me to the point I wanted to tear off my skin. I know I am not the only one. 

In a 2018 article in the New York Times, Police Killings Have Harmed Mental Health in Black Communities, Study Finds states, “Having seen something so horrific and traumatic that happened to someone else, I’m reminded in a very painful and salient way that the deck might be stacked against me,” Atheendar S. Venkataramani, one of the study’s authors, said of how black people might perceive police killings. “It’s really about all the kinds of insidious ways that structural racism can make people sick.”

Structural racism has made Black America (Freedmen) sick to its core. In a 2016 article The Link Between Experiences of Racism and Stress and Anxiety for Black Americans: A Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Coping Approach, The authors listed their findings on oppressive experiences:

  • Experiences of racism have significant negative effects on both physical and mental health outcomes for Black Americans
  • The anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. that arises is an understandable reaction during and in the wake of these painful experiences of racism
  • There are three specific ways we think experiences of racism negatively impact stress and anxiety for Black Americans: 
    • perceptions of lack of control,
    • internalization, and
    • avoidance of valued action

This is where we are. We are in a place where our frustrations have boiled over to where people are taking to the streets but being torn up from the inside out. Black is cracking and it is difficult to get others to care. 

All of this is systematic and representative of a long-festering problem that has never been addressed and so we must make a fundamental alteration to the paradigm rather than feel bad about it for the moment and then get back to life as it was. The best fundamental alteration I can think of would be reparations to the descendants of slavery. This would address the problem in the following ways such as closing the racial wealth gap, restoring business and educational infrastructures in the Black communities, creating equal protections for Black citizens under the law, and finally tear down the institutions of Slavery and Jim Crow that have plagued our group for generations.

You need to contact your Congressman, from the State and Federal level. You need to contact your mayors and governors and express your support for these policies to fix what America has broken. Please note that America was built on the backs of Slaves. America would not be an economic superpower without Slavery. That wound has never been healed and is a festering infection.

Our ancestor Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer has summed up these times we are in eriely clear.

Cynthia McDonald – Social Worker – Reparationist

Pandemic Racism: Can Freedmen Descendants Cope with the COVID-19 Infection in a Racist Healthcare System?

When America catches a cold, Black America catches the flu. This is a phrase that I heard on a conference call I attended with other medical professionals and social workers. We were engaged in a pertinent conversation on COVID-19 & Black Communities. COVID-19 has managed to be the number one topic in the world. It has caused a great interruption of all of our lives. We are also experiencing knowing people being affected socially, economically, and physically through actual infections. I was also made aware of people who have passed away because of this virus whom I actually know. When news hits you with an infection rate and death toll steadily rising day by day, one cannot help but to wonder what further implications will come from this disease on you as an individual, on your family, and on your community.

The Black American community has an extended and sordid history with the American Healthcare system. The distrust the community has is long and deep but not unwarranted. History has shown how the medical industry has either ignored the care needs of this group or intentionally inflicted harm. In the article entitled, African Americans and their distrust of the health care system: healthcare for diverse populations published in US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the author states, “The perception of mistrust from the African American community is in large caused by their previous experiences with the health care system. However, the mistrust is not only in perception, but has many other reasons.”  Black people that mostly descend from American Slavery were experimented on in the cases of the Tuskegee project where Black men were intentionally infected with Syphilis, Henrietta Lacks whose cells were harvested without her knowledge nor consent, James Marion Sims that conducted gynecological research on enslaved women, or Dr. Charles Drew who was refused care at a hospital and denied the very thing he discovered (plasma) that could have saved his life.

So let us attempt to answer this question: “Why would Black Americans (Freedmen) feel the effects of health care disparities the worse?” Even with this history, we are still seeing the effects that have caused inequities in the healthcare system. Director of Health Care Reform Jamila Taylor said in Racism, Inequality, and Health Care for African Americans, “Inequalities contribute to gaps in health insurance coverage, uneven access to services, and poorer health outcomes among certain populations. African Americans bear the brunt of these health care challenges.”  She goes on to say, “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped to ensure health care coverage for millions of Americans. The uninsured rate among African Americans declined after the law was implemented: of the more than 20 million people who have gained coverage under the ACA, 2.8 million of them are African-American. Yet, this population is still more likely to be uninsured than white Americans: as of 2018, the uninsured rate among African Americans was 9.7 percent, while it was just 5.4 percent among whites.  African Americans were more likely to be covered through employer-sponsored or private health insurance: 55 percent of African Americans used private health insurance in 2018, while 41.2 percent were enrolled in Medicaid or some other type of public health insurance. While coverage expansions under the ACA have hastened the progress toward universal coverage, the continued high cost of many coverage options means that access to affordable health care is still a challenge for many Americans—particularly African Americans.”

Having access to proper health care facilities will often make or break the health outcome of an individual. Also the quality of care will be a major factor as well. In the American Bar article Implicit Bias and Racial Disparities in Health Care by Khiara M. Bridges, she writes, “Black people simply are not receiving the same quality of health care that their white counterparts receive, and this second-rate health care is shortening their lives.”  She then says,  “In 2005, the Institute of Medicine—a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that now calls itself the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)—released a report documenting that the poverty in which black people disproportionately live cannot account for the fact that black people are sicker and have shorter life spans than their white complements. NAM found that “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people—even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable.” By “lower-quality health care,” NAM meant the concrete, inferior care that physicians give their black patients. NAM reported that minority persons are less likely than white persons to be given appropriate cardiac care, to receive kidney dialysis or transplants, and to receive the best treatments for stroke, cancer, or AIDS. It concluded by describing an “uncomfortable reality”: “some people in the United States were more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes simply because of their race or ethnicity, not just because they lack access to health care.”

In the midst of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, preliminary data coming from places like in Milwaukee, Michigan, and Louisiana, are reporting an infection and mortality rate that is very high in Black Americans. In a recent article in ProPublica – Early data reveals African Americans are contracting and dying of coronavirus at an alarming rate: by Akilah Johnson and Talia Buford: “As the disease spread at a higher rate in the black community, it made an even deeper cut. Environmental, economic and political factors have compounded for generations, putting black people at higher risk of chronic conditions that leave lungs weak and immune systems vulnerable: asthma, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. In Milwaukee, simply being black means your life expectancy is 14 years shorter, on average, than someone white. As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black. Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on black communities nationwide. In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14% black, African Americans made up 35% of cases and 40% of deaths as of Friday morning. Detroit, where a majority of residents are black, has emerged as a hotspot with a high death toll. As has New Orleans. Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40% of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are black (60%).”

Similar and also alarming reporting is coming out of Chicago as well. In a recent report by Maria Ines Zamudio, Elliott Ramos, “while black residents make up only 23% of the population in the county, they account for 58% of the COVID-19 deaths. And half of the deceased lived in Chicago, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. As of Saturday, 107 of Cook County’s 183 deaths from COVID-19 were black. In Chicago, 61 of the 86 recorded deaths – or 70% – were black residents. Blacks make up 29% of Chicago’s population. The majority of the black COVID-19 patients who died had underlying health conditions including respiratory problems and diabetes. Eighty-one percent of them had hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes or both.”

It is important to note the heavily shaded areas where the most deaths occurred are predominately Black American neighborhoods.

Self-reporting is also starting to surface concerning Covid-19 patients. Below is a video of a woman who was told that she was infected with the Coronavirus but was told she was fine and sent her home. Her condition worsened and she came back to the hospital. While there, the hospital tried to send her home again.

So what does this tell us? Should Black Americans think that Covid–19 was going to be an equalizer because the infection doesn’t discriminate? Reporting tells us no. If anything, Covid-19 has further exposed the chasm of racial inequity from adverse health care and our socio-economic condition. We are in this time period and some of the precautionary measures are not available to the majority of Black Americans.  Just because America is grappling with the coronavirus crisis doesn’t mean the unwritten rules of law enforcement are changing for Black people especially Freedmen Descendants. Let us also not forget that Black men are occupying prisons at a far greater rate than other racial groups and social distancing isn’t even an option. In a recent News One article, the author points out that social distancing for our group is a privilege. Nearly 20 percent of all Black people are able to work from home, according to statistics from the Economic Policy Institute. That percentage decreases when considering Black people that descend from chattel slavery. That means they can’t “shelter in place” or obey that stay at home and social distancing orders that others are able to, thus increasing their chances of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Taking together all above conditions of Black Americans, except without policies geared towards our group, reparations as the heartbeat of it, Pandemic Racism is only expected to increase. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racism is still alive all over America. Racial injustice is still the Negro’s burden and America’s shame. And we must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over black Americans. We must face the fact that we still have much to do in the area of race relations.”

We are still here. Is there any moving on?

–          Cynthia McDonald Social Worker and Reparationist

The Effects of COVID – 19 will hit the Black American Population Worse – but not from what you think

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel Coronavirus COVID – 19 as a Pandemic.  According to their site, the WHO Director-General said:

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do. We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.”

The spread of this virus from country to country and the level of passivity from different government responses has caused WHO to come to this conclusion of declaring a pandemic. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people. So far, the infection rate to possible mortality is low compared to other viral infections such as the flu, but the reported cases are rising everyday as more tests are being done. Even though this may be the case, my fear is the devastating social impacts this pandemic could have on marginalized communities, especially with Black Americans (Descendants of Slavery).

Black Americans that descend from chattel slavery are about 13% of the US population. On average, an Black American family income is roughly around $33-34,000 per year and hold less than 3% of the wealth as compared to whites that hold about 90% of the wealth in the United States according to the Federal Reserve. About 21% of Black Americans (8.9 million out of 36 million) live under the Federal Poverty Line as of 2018. Black Americans unemployment is at least twice as high as white unemployment at the national level. In 2019, the unemployment rate Black Americans in the United States stood at 6.1 percent. This was over 1.6 times the national average of 3.7 percent. Black Americans still face more hurdles to get a job, let alone getting a job that includes employer benefits like paid time off and health care. According to the Center for American Progress, despite Black Americans workers that are Descendants of Freedmen having increased access to jobs and actually getting more jobs, labor market outcomes—including higher unemployment and fewer good jobs—continue to be worse for Black Americans workers and their families. Black Americans regularly experience higher unemployment rates and work in worse jobs, which feature lower pay and fewer benefits, than whites. Moreover, Black Americans tend to work in jobs that are less stable than those held by white workers. For example, Black Americans workers often see their unemployment rates go up sooner than white workers when the economy sours, and their unemployment rates also take longer to decline when the economy improves than is the case for whites—a phenomenon often described as “last hired, first fired.” Moreover, unemployed Black Americans workers look longer to find and secure a new job than do white workers. 

Low-income and low-wage earners will likely bear the brunt of the economic impact of coronavirus. According to a recent article in Yahoo Finance entitled Coronavirus to impact low-wage, black workers the most, experts warn as coronavirus continues to slam industries like travel, leisure, and hospitality – workers in these industries also have the lowest amount of access to sick leave, forcing many employees to choose between their health and their paycheck. Only a third of the workforce in the country is able to work from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nationwide, more than 32 million workers don’t have access to paid sick leave. According to the BLS, 92% of higher-wage earners receive paid sick time compared to their lower-income counterparts — only 31% of workers with salaries in the bottom 10% have this benefit. Paid sick leave also impacts some sectors more than others. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), only 48% of workers in the leisure and hospitality industry have access to paid sick leave. Economically, these workers are the most likely to suffer the most, particularly as many face work hour reductions. These are the ones more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck, and will have a harder time because they have limited resources.  As fewer people go to restaurants, travel and spend money at hotels, workers in those industries suffer from reduced business and dollars that can translate into tips. 

There is also a showing how this industry will effect these workers in the adverse. In Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker announced shutting down all bars and dine in restaurants in order to help prevent the spread of COVID – 19 on March 15, 2020. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Governor will order all restaurants and bars across the state to be closed to dine-in customers in a further attempt to curb the coronavirus, effective end of business Monday March 16th.  Restaurants will remain open to drive through and delivery, sources said in the governor’s administration. In his announcement, he said the closure will be in effect until March 30th.

Complicating matters even more is that low wage workers who have access to healthcare may not take advantage of it because the out-of-pocket costs are too high to afford combined with other expenses. Many Americans sacrifice health for food, gas, and rent. People that are Black Americans are even more so dealing with, often, several issues at once because of already being a lower socioeconomic status. Many Black Americans communities lack resources that have lead to food insecurity or poor nutrition and little or no access to healthcare. These issues coupled with a pandemic only make matters worse.

Black Americans parents are also more reliant on institutions like schools to be available for their children so they can earn a living. Currently, there are school closings announced across the United States from Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Washington and New York.  A vast portion of children that are Black Americans rely on free breakfast and lunch programs. This will cause a further state of emergency for the average Black Americans family with having to make difficult decisions from child care to feeding their families. The stark reality is this crisis is one many Black Americans families aren’t economically prepared for on multiple levels.

The Black Americans population also account for a staggeringly disproportionate chunk of the nation’s homeless population, according to a government report. In 2019, an estimated 568,000 Americans experienced homelessness, with Black Americans, primarily Black Americans , making up about 40% of that total, according to the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The total figure in 2018 was about 553,000. The disparity was starker when looking at the number of homeless people with children: Black Americans accounted for about 52% of that population, with whites accounting for about 35%, the report said. In contrast, 48% of all people experiencing homelessness were white compared with 77% of the total U.S. population, while people who identify as Hispanic or Latino represented about 22% of the homeless population, but only 18% of the overall population.  According to the Washington Post article entitled Fears mount about impact of coronavirus on homeless, housing advocates say they fear an outbreak could occur in large homeless encampments where thousands of people live on the street and lack the ability to self-quarantine, receive medical attention, or access cleaning facilities. The article goes on to say that only one homeless person nationwide has tested positive for coronavirus according to a senior presidential administration official. But concerns are mounting for what happens when more do. Homeless people are particularly likely to have additional health conditions that could exacerbate the impact of coronavirus, advocates say, and one study from last year found the homeless to be far more likely to have asthma and other pulmonary conditions. Black Americans, according to a report from Web MD, are three times more likely to die of asthma than white Americans. With the added social detriment of homelessness, this would cause even more worsening with this population.

Congress has passed an emergency bill that they are waiting for the President to sign into law. The bill includes:

  • Free Coronavirus Testing: No one will be denied a test due to cost.
  • An Emergency Paid Leave Program: Up to two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Food Assistance: Support for nutrition security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, meals for seniors and food banks.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Benefits: States must have the resources and flexibility to provide unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers.

This bill is a start but it isn’t nearly enough for what Black Americans needs since our position in the United States is underpinning. Experts are already saying what we are seeing will get worse before it gets better. Better in the eyes of our current government for Black Americans will never be good enough. The pandemic is a further reminder of the vast inequality in this country. And some people are going to get hurt so much more than others. Because of the social inequity of Black Americans , that hurt will be felt the most and it could be long lasting.  Black Americans is already a bottom cast group that have carried the burden of accrued disadvantages through Slavery and Jim Crow. Black Americans has never recovered because no real redress and repair has been exacted. Now with this pandemic, the social and economic standing of this group will suffer more than just infection.  The barriers to be able to access the proper resources that one would need to survive will only rise.  

We are past time for repair and redress. The Black Descendants of Chattel Slavery are in dire need of reparations. The debt is owed and far overdue. Without our socio-economic position changing, all social determinants of health will be affected in the adverse for this group. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If America is to remain a first-class nation, it cannot have second-class citizens,” Black Americans is still waiting for their full access to citizenship with the rights and privileges that come with it. How long should we wait? Where we are shows we cannot wait much longer.

  • Cynthia McDonald Social Worker and Reparationist

Does Black America Suffer from an Identity Illness?

Who are we really?

“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.”

— Erik Erikson.

What is in a name? Shakespeare asked this question during Romeo’s soliloquy to Juliet. He asked this question because Romeo being part of the family Montague forbade him from associating with his love Juliet. She was of the family Capulet which the Montague’s feuded with for generations. Shakespeare did not reveal what started the families’ feud, but we do know their clash lead to several altercations that were at times deadly. The surname Romeo and Juliet bore carried the weight of a great contention their love could not overcome. Eventually, the discord that existed between Montague and Capulet led to the star-crossed lovers’ demise and the end of the Montague and Capulet dispute.

There is obviously a lot of weight that is held in a name. When we are born, the first thing the doctor declares is the baby’s sex of male or female. The parents name the child and that name follows them generally from cradle to grave. Also, the surname could determine who that child is to become. We’ve experienced this when we hear certain surnames spoken. When I hear Jackson, I think of a family of entertainers. When I hear Rockefeller, I think of a family who made their money in oil. When I hear the name Roosevelt or Kennedy, I think of families tied to American politics. With those examples, we can see how names can help shape the identity of an individual or even a group. We can also see how that identity can shape a person or a group for a lifetime.

Black America has wrestled with their identity for centuries. Since the first African Slaves arrived in the Americas, Black Americans have gone through a plethora of nomenclatures to attempt to define them as a people. Titles have gone from Colored, to Negro, to Black, and now African American. Are any of these designations accurate epithets for Black Americans? If they aren’t, then what is?

I conjecture that all of these inceptions to attempt identify Black people who descend from chattel slavery has caused an identity crisis. What is even more flagitious is the ones who are suffering from such a crisis I’d argue are not even aware of it. Black America does not want to deal with the trauma of what their identity in America really is. If they do, it would cause them to face the reality of their true position in this country which is a bottom cast.

This leads to a mental concern that Black America suffers on the macrosm called Identity Illness. In an article entitled The Impact of Illness Identity on Recovery from Severe Mental Illness by Philip T. Yanos, David Roe, and Paul H. Lysaker, they define Identity Illness as follows:

The set of roles and attitudes that a person has developed in relation to his or her understanding of having a mental illness.

Symptoms of Identity Illness or Identity crisis can include but not limited to:

  • Questioning who you are
  • Experiencing great personal conflict due to the questioning of who you are or your role in society.
  • Questioning things such as your values, spirituality, beliefs, interests, or career path that have a major impact on how you see yourself.
  • Searching for more meaning, reason, or passion in life

Physical symptoms of this ailment can include:

  • Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Issues with concentration, energy levels, motivation, and sleep

Slavery and Jim Crow have an impact of centuries old trauma that has left Black America disjointed. Our group has been seeking wholeness ever since.

The crux of Black America has attempted to redefine itself in a myriad of ways in order to heal from the injury that’s been thrust-ed upon them through Racism White Supremacy. The term African-American may seem to be a product of recent decades, exploding into common usage in the 1990s after a push from advocates like Jesse Jackson, and only enshrined in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001. The phrase was first used in an anti-British sermon from 1782 credited to an anonymous “African American,” pushing the origins of the term back to the earliest days of independence. According to an article published Jan. 31, 1989 in the New York Times entitled ‘African-American’ Favored By Many of America’s Blacks , reads:

“This is deeper than just name recognition,” said Mr. Jackson who, along with others, called for the change at a news conference in late December (1989). ”Black tells you about skin color and what side of town you live on. African-American evokes discussion of the world.”

Discussion of the world I feel is a very fascinating choice of words. Black Americans that descend from chattel slavery are people who’s culture has been appropriated all over the world, but the people has not been accepted all over the world. Quite the opposite has occurred which caused this group to be often demonized. The tropes of savage, mammy, coon, Jezebel – to the modern welfare queen, lazy, thot, and thug plague Black Americans into a hole of mind torture passed on from generation to generation. When one even looks at media and sees how Black women are hyper-sexualized and Black men posthumously criminalized, it is easy to fall into an expanse that this group begins to believe, accuse, and carry out their negative stereotypes. Would it be fair to label these behaviors as indicators of Identity Illness?

People like Jackson sought the solution of calling Black Americans as “African American” to be the cure of this ailment. This notion was birth out of Jackson’s own journey to the continent and a movement called Pan-Africanism. According to an article on Encyclopedia Britannica online, Pan-Africanism is the idea that peoples of African descent have common interests and should be unified. Historically, Pan-Africanism has often taken the shape of a political or cultural movement. There are many varieties of Pan-Africanism. In its narrowest political manifestation, Pan-Africanists envision a unified African nation where all people of the African diaspora can live. (African diaspora refers to the long-term historical process by which people of African descent have been scattered from their ancestral homelands to other parts of the world.) In more-general terms, Pan-Africanism is the sentiment that people of African descent have a great deal in common, a fact that deserves notice and even celebration. “Pan” meaning “all” was an attempt to bring Black people under one umbrella of identity stating that no matter where we are in the world, we are of Africa.

Although the philosophy of Pan-Africanism is appreciable, it is not operational. The reason why is because the continent of Africa is not united under one banner of “Blackness”. Africa is comprised of 54 countries. Within those 54 countries contains a myriad of tribes. According to, there are roughly 3,000 different tribes in Africa that speak approximately 2,000 different languages. There are even situations of African countries having immigration problems from one country to another in the same continent. In a recent article from the New York Times South Africa Vows to Crack Down on Violence Against Nigerians published Oct. 3, 2019, the article states:

“Outbreaks of violence against Nigerians and citizens of other African nations have regularly erupted in South Africa in recent years, with some in the country accusing foreigners of taking their jobs or of committing crimes like peddling illegal drugs. – South Africa has been making efforts to repair ties after the government faced criticism for framing the violence against foreigners as everyday crime, and initially not speaking out against the xenophobia.”

African nations also deal with a separatist issue that plagues the continent to present day. In the Atlantic called The Dividing of a Continent: Africa’s Separatist Problem published in 2012 in , it states:

“African borders, in this thinking, are whatever Europeans happened to have marked down during the 19th and 20th centuries, which is a surprising way to do things given how little these outsider-drawn borders have to do with actual Africans. In much of the world, national borders have shifted over time to reflect ethnic, linguistic, and sometimes religious divisions. Spain’s borders generally enclose the Spanish-speakers of Europe; Slovenia and Croatia roughly encompass ethnic Slovenes and Croats. Thailand is exactly what its name suggests. Africa is different, its nations largely defined not by its peoples heritage but by the follies of European colonialism. But as the continent becomes more democratic and Africans assert desires for national self-determination, the African insistence on maintaining colonial-era borders is facing more popular challenges, further exposing the contradiction engineered into African society half a century ago.”

So what does this tell us? Is it proper for Black Americans to look at a fractured continent for identity? Although Black Americans are closer to the continent genetically, they are not culturally. If one looks to Africa with the first thought mentioned, as Biologist Richard Dawkins stated, we all are African. But since people who do not identify as “Black” also don’t identify as “African”, should we?

The truth of the matter is Black Americans are not “African” per se. Black Americans that have been in the United States for multiple generations are something quite different. They are an amalgamation of the enslaved that originally came from West and Central African countries and the en-slaver that is of European descent. In the article entitled The case against ‘African American’ to describe U.S. Black people | Opinion written by Milton W. Hinton posted on – he writes:

“Most Black men and women born in the United States are now far removed from Africa, other than sharing some physical characteristics. Most Black Americans speak only English, while Africans often learn multiple languages and dialects in their youth. Most Black Americans — even if their lives depended on it — could not name 10 African languages, tribes or ethnic groups, or any of the continent’s musicians, playwrights, presidents or capital cities. Most of us will never visit Africa. I will go so far as to say that most Black Americans have never read a book by an African writer, which is one of the best ways to learn African history. Being African or African American means more than having similar physical characteristics”.

Black Americans are intermingled with the experiences of Slavery and Jim Crow, which deduces properly the denomination Freedmen or Freedmen Descendants. The term Freedmen was the bestowed on the newly emancipated slaves after the Civil War in 1865. It was also referenced to Black people who were not enslaved before the ending of Chattel Slavery. It was written in government documents and were federal institutions.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also wrote in his book Where do We Go from Here? From Chaos to Community about the Freedmen Descendants and how we are from slaves but also very American. We made America what it is but still bear the burden of past position.

“Who are we? We are the descendants of slaves. We are the offspring of noble men and women who were kidnaped from their native land and chained in ships like beasts. We
are the heirs of a great and exploited continent known as Africa. We are the heirs of a past of rope, fire and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.

But we are also Americans. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. In spite of the psychological appeals of identification with Africa, the Negro must face the fact that America is now his home, a home that he helped to build through “blood, sweat and tears.” Since we are Americans the solution to our problem will not come through seeking to build a separate black nation within a nation, but by finding that creative minority of the concerned from the ofttimes apathetic majority, and together moving toward that colorless power that we all need for security and justice.”

I would correct Dr. King one particular point in this quoted passage. Those who were enslaved from the lands of West and Central Africa were largely sold into slavery, not kidnapped per se. Regardless of that resolve of a more appropriate version of history, King gave an up to mark summation of the Black experience that roots from Slavery in America. We are from those brought to this land from a continent long ago of people brought to America in chains and made to serve generations of other humans for centuries. We are also American and have influenced through blood, sweat, and tears largely to what America is. America would not be America without the ones who built it. Also I would say to him that this nation will never be “colorless”. Often the statement “I don’t see color” is a way to ignore the colossal issues that this nation faces because of the hierarchy of Racism White Supremacy.

Knowing what one’s identity is extremely important. John Cahill stated in the Quora article, Why is identity important? He says:

Identity is important only because it is an opportunity to become, i.e., to go beyond whatever we and others think our identity is. Identity (the experience of self beyond a mere name) is an uncertain, impermanent shifting concept of a self. It is not one identity but many identities according to the opinions and values of those who may wish to identify an ‘individual’ or a supposed ‘self’.

The experiences that Black Americans garnered is under the umbrella that we collectively share which are Slavery and Jim Crow. Slavery in America is a blot on history never redressed, but it was also the vehicle that created this nation and made it an economic world power. To think of the brutality of Slavery is painful. To reflect upon the ferocity of Jim Crow is appalling. To continue to suffer under the accrued disadvantages from these institutions is loathsome, however it is at the very foundation who we are. Once Black America embraces who we are as a people, we can start the rebuilding process to overcome our collective Identity Illness. This infirmity has plagued us in the environs of 14 generations. Going beyond “Black is Beautiful” and “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” will leap an entire people into the understanding of we are – the Descendants of enslaved or the Sons and Daughters of the Freedmen. As I quoted King earlier, I am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.

  • Cynthia McDonald – Medical Case Manager, Health and Political Advocate