In her latest book, Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body And Spirit, author Mary-Frances Winters explores the negative consequences of “living while Black” in the US.
The book is especially relevant in the wake of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who is charged in the murder of George Floyd last May. Floyd’s murder launched global protests and energized initiatives for racial justice in America. Frances poses that for some, avoiding watching the trial is an extension of self-care and survival.
“An educated Black man is just as likely to be stopped while walking down the street, or driving while Black, or living while Black, or barbecuing while Black. No amount of education is going to fix that. Even if you wore ‘Ph.D.’ emblazoned across your chest, it wouldn’t matter,” Winters said.
Winters unpacks the legacy of generational trauma for Black people in the US that extends into educational, financial, political, and social inequity. The lack of generational wealth, Winters contends, is a large source fueling ongoing inequity. In her chapter, “Then Is Now” she wrote, “Black households have the lowest median household income and net worth of any demographic group, and those measures of progress have not improved.” The 2008 financial crisis left many Black families vulnerable to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, furthering wealth gaps between racial groups in the US.
Winters points to the US’ failures to even acknowledge its treacherous past as an indicator that nothing has changed.
“When it comes to history,” Winters told CNN, “one thing to consider is that the US has never apologized for slavery. Doing so is more than symbolic –– it’s the acknowledgement that harm was done. Once you acknowledge that, what are you going to do to repair that harm? Instead, what we’ve done is lied about the truth, in schoolbooks and beyond.”
Recent efforts to pay reparations to Black Americans have gained some traction in Congress, even after decades of pushes at the federal level to get it done. Evanston, Illinois recently passed a measure to pay its Black residents reparations, the first of its kind.
When discussing financial bottom lines, Winters says racism and discrimination is costing the US trillions of dollars, citing a study released by Citibank.
“I went to the bank for a small business loan,” Winters shared, “and I didn’t get it despite the fact that everything was in order. The interest on lending to Black business is part of that lost $16 trillion.”
“Liberty and justice for all is what we say our country stands for. Democracy is a work in progress, of course. We will know that we have true equity when we can no longer predict outcomes based on someone’s identity,” Winters said.
Winters books are available for purchase.
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