MLK: Return flight — a key to the health of the Black community

SamuelssmallWho is accountable for the improving the lives of Black people for whom the American dream has been denied? Of course each individual is responsible for his/her own success, but we cannot do it alone. We need each other.

Accountability is defined as a relationship between persons or groups, where one is responsible to another for something important — where it actually matters if things get better or worse. Authentic community is about the mutual responsibility individuals take for the well-being of the people of their community grounded in the awareness of our shared humanity and inextricably linked destinies.

Today the widening economic, educational, political and proximity gap between the have and have-nots, has left far too many Black folks isolated and disconnected from opportunities for upward mobility. Understandably, with the passage of Fair Housing legislation in 1968 ending legal housing discrimination, there was a mass exodus of middle-class African American families. We (preceded by the unprecedented flight of Whites) abandoned the inner-city and our less privileged neighbors for better schools, safety, convenience, and status of the suburbs. In our flight we took our economic, social and political power.

The unintended consequence of our actions has been the creation of racially concentrated areas of poverty, (RCAP) where at least 50 percent of the population are people of color and 40 percent live below the poverty line. In Minneapolis there are 38 RCAPs with half located in North Minneapolis. RCAPs are also characterized by disproportionate crime, violence, school failure, high mobility, single-parent homes, and a lack of jobs. They lack thriving for-profit businesses, or access to healthy foods and meaningful transit.

The return flight of strong middle-class Black families to the inner-city is not the only way to restore the health of the community but the powerful transformative potential of such an action, grounded in a loving sense of responsibility, is both compelling and undeniable.