To understand how racism works today, we must recognize that generations of African Americans were disadvantaged by slavery, wage theft, “Jim Crow” laws, and by the systematic denial of access to numerous wealth-building opportunities for others. This has left many African Americans without hope, discouraged, disheartened, and feeling unloved. While it is true that some individuals and families have thrived, significant numbers of African Americans were born into economic and social disparity. The poverty experienced by many of these communities has its root in racist policies that continue to impede the ability of people to find affordable housing, meaningful work, adequate education, and social mobility. The generational effects of slavery, segregation, and the systematic use of violence— including the lynching of more than 4,000 black men, women and children across 800 different counties throughout the United States between 1877 and 1950—are realities that must be fully recognized and addressed in any process that hopes to combat racism.

(to be continued)