Just A Thought...Beware of the Gatekeepers

by Rick Adams

OFTEN one can hear Black people castigating the "gatekeepers", usually an attack on those of African descent who have obtained positions of importance, authority, or large salaries. It is undeniable that some of the brothers and sisters who occupy these positions have been selected, appointed, and elected by those in power to serve as buffers, blockers, and bafflers. Many are not, but whatever the case there are gatekeepers who are more of a problem to the goals and aspirations of Black people.

THESE overwhelmingly white gatekeepers, there are some non white ones who unflinchingly accept the game plan, are the most effective obstacles to every Black person born and raised in these United States. Forget the Klan, the Aryan Nation, the Skin Heads, and right wing conservative politicians; the real gatekeepers are more destructive to the hopes and dreams of the average Black person by far.

WHO are these gatekeepers? They are all around us numbering in the hundreds of thousands. If you live in an integrated community chances are they are the neighbors next door. Many Black people work with, for, and interact with them on a daily basis. Our children are at there mercy everyday. These dangerous, ubiquitous foot soldiers of racism and white supremacy are the health care providers, the public school professionals, the college admissions officers, the human/employee relations officers, the bank loan officers, the real estate, and law enforcement/judiciary professionals. These seven classes of workers have controlled the life chances and quality of life for every person of African descent in this country. From the cradle to the grave, these faceless minions determine our chances of success. Life altering decisions are made at each step of ones journey from fetus to elder to ancestor.

IF obstetricians/pediatricians are absent, because of a lack of medical coverage and no money; the infant mortality rate is higher, the number of infants with serious health problems that go untreated is increased, and these children enter the public schools with higher rates of learning disabilities, and disciplinary problems. For those Africans with medical coverage a combination of uncaring, racist, and/or incompetent health care providers make medical care of our children problematic.

ONCE our children enter the public school system the work of crippling our children continues in earnest. School social workers, psychologists, and counselors participate in a process that results in many of our children being labeled with descriptions that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Terms like slow learner, hyper active, socially maladjusted, at risk, attention deficient disorder, and of course the catchall "trouble maker" are entered on the permanent record. Just like that a child is done for before they even get out of their formative years!

TODAY'S job market requires some post secondary level education, college or vocational school. College admissions officers and culturally biased entrance exams conspire to keep many Black youngsters from going on after high school. The ravages of poor health care, bad nutrition, the resulting health problems, and the social problems that swirl around low income families team up to make the pressures on those able to go to college near unbearable.

ONCE out of college there is one class of gatekeepers that effect nearly all of us; the human and employee relations officers. If those with the power to hire, including sole proprietors, are racists so much for getting a job, or at least a good one anyway. The ability to keep a job or receive promotions rests with these people along with the always-present supervisor. Since the vast majority of us work for non Black people, if one of these gatekeepers has it in for us, we are through. Given the conservative stacked courts, lawsuits, besides the expense, do not appear to be an inviting option.

AFTER securing a job it is not long before a young person in the work force has to visit the bank and mortgage loan officers. It is well documented the discriminatory loan practices African Americans and other people of color face when trying to access credit. In a society like ours, the failure to acquire credit or credit at preferred rates has a devastating effect on the financial fortunes of Black people.

REAL estate brokers and mortgage lenders make it difficult for Black people to become homeowners. The real estate companies still engage in "block busting" and African would be homeowners are denied mortgages at proportionately higher rates or granted financial packages at more costly interest rates.

THE law enforcement/judiciary establishment is a major antagonist of Black people. The overwhelming majority of the police officers, lawyers, judges, district attorneys, and legislators who make the laws are white. This fact is brutally reflected in the fact that people of African descent are 12% of the national population, but 55% of the prison population. Black people traveling the nation's highways are routinely stopped at rates five times the proportion of Black motorists frequenting the roadway in question.

AS dismal as these observations are I do not suggest that we roll over and surrender, nor necessarily flee these shores. What I do call for is a sophisticated social, economic, and political strategy to combat these legions of gatekeepers. Black people need to learn individual and collective tactics for overcoming these barriers. Well its JUST A THOUGHT ….

Just A Thought...Beware of the Gatekeepers by Rick Adams

© Copyright 1998. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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