A new era has dawned in America. Indeed, there remain some skeptics who refuse to view the sunrise, but the cock has crowed and time marches on. In the selection of the country’s 44th president, the majority of Americans have attained one of the nation’s highest credos: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” Great benefits will unfold for America for its adherence to this divine principle.
Americans over the age of 60 believed that they would never see such a transformation in their lifetime, but many continued to hope for such a change. African Americans continued to study and prepare for the opportunities that would be denied to them. In his famous speech in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream of a time when blacks “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
That time has come.
No, not every single American has attained that enlightened state of mind, but a new spirit of unity and brotherhood is loose in the land. Those who have been the victims of past hostilities should take heart. There are fewer impediments to progress. This is the time, as President Barack Obama has often asserted, for the “audacity of hope.”
Past generations of African Americans lived disciplined lives, studied and worked hard to prepare for jobs that were not available to them despite their qualifications. They carried on through their disappointment to challenge the barriers of racial discrimination so that their children would have greater opportunities. The inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States is the fulfillment of those sacrifices.
The younger generation confronts a different world. Racial discrimination has not been totally eliminated, but it is now more of a petty inconvenience. Today’s real challenge is competition for professional positions on a global scale. It has never been more important for the youth to accept the wisdom of the elders — education paves the road to success.
With President Obama as a role model, little else should be necessary to inspire the young to the highest levels of academic attainment.
With all of the adverse publicity about today’s black youth, it is encouraging to find that they have resisted several of society’s pitfalls.
In its March 2006 study, titled “Underage Drinking in the United States,” the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that black youth have fewer problems with alcohol than whites. According to the report, only 19.1 percent of black youth between the ages of 12 and 20 used alcohol in 2004, compared with rates between 24.3 percent and 32.6 percent for other racial and ethnic groups. Asians, at 16.4 percent, had the lowest rate. The study also found that only 9.9 percent of underage blacks engaged in binge drinking, compared with 22.8 percent of whites.
Even more surprising, the University of Michigan-conducted “Monitoring the Future” study found that cocaine usage by white youth is four times that of blacks. Admissions of white teenagers to drug treatment centers for cocaine and crack addiction soared 76 percent from 2001 to 2006, according to study results released last month. The rates for black teens held steady.
Black youth, who generally suffer from economic and other types of adversity, have shown great strength of character in this area. This should serve as an important building block for the future.