Analysis of an American epidemic: Blackness



MSR EditorialBy Donald Allen

Contributing Writer


According to author Malcolm Gladwell, the philosophy on an epidemic is based on three rules: “The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context.” Gladwell contends that these rules offer a way of making sense of epidemics.

The Law of the Few is a law about the structure of our social network and how messages are passed through word of mouth. The Stickiness Factor is a law about the actual informational content and packaging of a message. The Power of Context is a rule about the environment in which a message spreads.

The American epidemic is Blackness. It’s a two-fold message: attempting to understand the true concept of why the American Dream can’t be a reality, and the silence of our Black leaders who should be addressing issues of unemployment, civil rights, education and health care.

This lethal mixture has created a falling action where the climax has been reached, the conflict should be resolved, but it has never been resolved nor addressed. The Black plight in history has been to “begin again,” or return to go. This is the American epidemic of 2013: Blackness.

In 1865, the Mississippi Black Codes were established to limit the newly found freedom of Blacks in the South. Both freed Blacks and those under the Black Codes were forced into cheap labor, denied education, and denied legal rights.

The struggle to qualify as a part of America has taken its toll on Black people. To no avail, we still are considered a second-class, cut-rate, and mostly ignored group of people unless government funding is available to take a deeper look into why we are presumed dysfunctional.

From the failure of Reconstruction in the late 1800s to the mass incarceration of Black Americans today, we (Black Americans) are faced with some extremely important concerns:

• Things aren’t getting any better for us.

• The American Dream bypasses the lower one-third of communities that should be served.

• We are being systematically “edited” by American culture.

• Those who have been assigned the mission of moving the Black agenda forward have become voiceless and dysfunctional parts of American society dependent on White guilt.

• Racism is the driver that will cause the silent death of Black America.

Statistics show that the African American community is in bad shape under the Obama administration. The Labor Department reports that the Black unemployment rate was at 12.7 percent when President Obama initially took office. As the employment rate for the nation dropped below eight percent, Black unemployment increased to 12.9 percent and then to 14 percent for December. In some states like Minnesota, the unemployment rate has climbed into the 20th percentile for Black Minnesotans.

Every day, Black Americans are being defined. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a bus stop, in a car, at work, or in the unemployment line. We are defined mostly by those who don’t look like us but have the power to create a destiny for us.

For example, a Black man walks into a department store. He’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He’s unshaven and quiet. Immediately, loss prevention has keyed in on this man as a possible shoplifter. Store security has no idea this Black man is a college professor with the discretionary funds and credit to spend a thousand dollars in the store.

As he approaches the checkout counter, a conversation between the clerk and the Black man unearths his professional status and the reason he’s shopping today. In the meantime, five hundred dollars of merchandise has walked out the front door with a young, White couple.

America sees Blackness much like how they see Africa: evil, untrustworthy, dirty, dumb and animalistic.

At no point in American history have people of dark color been more oppressed, denied the common wellbeing of what it means to be a successfully functioning member of the American Dream. While some Black leaders only talk of reparations, Native Americans have their casinos.

Jews made it a point to have a Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany to pay Israel for the slave labor and persecution of Jews during the Holocaust and to compensate for Jewish property that was stolen by the Nazis. The lone African, or Black person, has been left outside of the awards for the Black Holocaust.

We sit, waiting for our turn while being told everything is fine. If that were the case, there would be no need for regulations meant to create a fair playing field in the areas of employment: Affirmative Action and EEOC laws, education, or the need to address “diversity” in the workplace and college campuses across the United States. Believe it or not, racism plays a major role in the obstruction of benevolence or a disposition to do good for all people.

Albert Einstein said, “There is a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of White skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I, as a Jew, am dearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of ‘Whites’ toward their fellow citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes.

“The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out. Racism is America’s greatest disease and racism is a disease of the White man.”

It’s 2013, and what Einstein said still holds true today.


Donald Allen is Editor-in-Chief of