Commentary: Will America fix the race problem?

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: Will America fix the race problem?
July 01
13:30 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

The land of the free and the home of the brave is an expression written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 as he was writing a poem entitled “The Defense of Fort McHenry.”

Does that apply to all of us? The answer is no.

Racism and inequality have haunted us from the very beginning. While our country has made great advancements, race has not kept pace. It languishes and creeps at times at a snail’s pace.

America has now come to a social justice reckoning. Racial problems are now front-and-center in this country and the world.

It is time to act upon changes that have been too long in coming. The deaths of innocent Black people have fueled a fire in most Americans such that we have not seen.

Strangely and unfortunately, COVID-19 made us the witnesses to the George Floyd killing. We saw it uncensored and unfiltered.

This type of raw brutality has created an avalanche of both emotions and world support.

Marches have not stopped and we will not stop until the voices of justice can be heard. “Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed, no more backward thinking, time for thinking ahead. The world has changed so very much from what it used to be. There is so much hatred, war and poverty.” These lyrics were made famous by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass.

The song is prophetic and rings true today. America has been in a deep sleep regarding race. When it arises from this nightmare, it denies having a problem.

This has been going on for four hundred years.

Is there hope for a new day? I believe so.

Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said on a video recently, “Black Lives Matter. Can you say it? Black Lives Matter. We should be saying it every day. It’s not political. This is not a political statement. It’s a human rights statement. It’s a fairness statement.”

Systemic changes must come to our institutions and the way we think about them.

Just last week Mr. T and his band of despots asked the Supreme Court to have The Affordable Healthcare Act declared illegal. Will they do it? My opinion is no.

This pandemic has pointed out in a dramatic way the disparities that are imbedded in our healthcare system. COVID-19 has ravaged the African American community as more than 10,000 people have passed away from it.

Uche Blackstone, an urgent care physician and CEO of Advancing Health Equity said, “The disparities are continuing to be reflected in the data, yet we still have a complete lack of guidance from the federal government about how to mitigate these divisions. There is no real plan how to deal with it.”

Postsecondary opportunities must not be a pipe dream but a realistic and tangible goal. Cost must not always be the deciding factor.

Robert F. Smith, a billionaire and philanthropist, has created a program called the Student Freedom Initiative. It will begin at 11 HBCUs in the fall of 2021 and it will assist students with their school loans who major in STEM programs. He said, “You think about these students graduating and then plowing so much of their wealth opportunity into supporting this student debt, that’s a travesty in and of itself.”

Longtime symbols of racism in some states will be coming down soon. For example, the Confederate emblem on the state flag has been flying high in Mississippi. Now in the coming days, the state legislature will vote to take it down. Leaders say they have the votes.

The race problem will only get better when all of us want it to get better. The future of this country is at stake.

James B. Ewers Jr. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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