Ta-Nehisi Coates is a black American. In a book he wrote in 2015 ‘’ Between the World and Me’’ Coates stated that a black man in the second decade of 21st Century USA had to fear for his physical safety every day.
In the 1980s a feature of segregation in the USA was the emergence of a black underclass in big city centers that were isolated and abandoned. However, in states such as Ohio and West Virginia a white underclass was emerging. The similarity between the white and black underclass lay in the isolation and emotional exclusion of the two groups.
The evolution of the underclass follows the growth in globalization and a leafy urbanization driven by the new hi tech knowledge economy with a tiny elite of super wealthy winners and a vast ocean of losers who will never see the million dollar bonuses of those in hi tech and finance.
Globalization and wealth inequality has resulted in a collapse of community life and public trust that has left the marginalized isolated and angry.
But it is blacks that have been on the short end of the pole. Paradoxically it is the Democrats under President Bill Clinton that passed tougher laws for fighting crime that led to a vast prison population that was disproportionately black.
Today’s young Americans are growing up in a USA that has failed them with failing institutions, financial collapse, and fragile families.
Interesting the values of young USA- the millennials and Generation Z are the opposite of the Boomer Generation. Young America wants security, equality, safety, community, and social justice over the older values of freedom, individualism, and meritocracy.
Unlike in Bill Clintons days when there appeared to be a boundless optimism, with an economy that appeared to grow without any limit, and markets that appeared self-regulating, any thought of a falling NASDAQ or Dow Jones was inconceivable.
The 1990s were the peak of a 20th century Americana where no one needed security. Americans wore jeans to the office, cheated on their partners, and listened to rock and roll even as they aged. Upward mobility was a fact of life. Everything was within reach. It was accepted that children would be better off than their parents.
Today’s USA is vastly different. It is a country in crisis. US society, culture, and politics has taken a wrong turn ending up with Donald Trump, a tanking economy and a deathly pandemic that has killed over 250 000 people and appears nowhere near the end.
At the root of America’s troubles today is a loss of faith in America and American society.
Writer David Brookes asserts that the measure of morality of a society is whether people trust its institutions. He states that when people in a church lose faith or trust in God the church collapses. Consequently people in America no longer trust their institutions and leaders and as a consequence the USA is collapsing.
Brooks says the evidence of decline are everywhere: doubts about the legitimacy of elections, fake news and heavy media biases, white police who deploy unwarranted force against the black population, armed militias on the streets, hateful social media, and today a toxic Republican Party.
Will Joe Biden be able to save the USA from further decline and even total collapse? We can only hope.
Connect with Dickson Igwe on Facebook and Twitter