Qasem Soleimani was assassinated Friday and with that action by US forces, the mood is war. Soleimani was was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a prominent figure in his country. His death, according to many analysts, will invoke a response from Iran. If the natural course is war, however, Black people stand to lose most — the cost could very well be Black lives and disproportionately so. America’s history of war is one of Black death and without strong, vibrant Black businesses, that history will repeat itself.
In 1965 the US was fully engaged in the Vietnam War. At the time, Black people made up roughly 11 percent of the civilian population. Black people, however, made up 25 percent of all combat deaths in Vietnam that year. Today Black people make up over 12 percent of the US population but 17 percent of the US military forces. At the same time, Black people represent roughly 1 in 8 people in the US labor force, or 12.5 percent. In other words, even in 2020, Black people are overrepresented in the military and it’s certainly not due to a patriotic gene that runs deep in Black folks. At the root, far too many Black (and other poor) people lack options in the labor force and so they opt for the military.
The problem is evident and yet so is the solution: Black people must provide opportunities for their youth. The United States government, regardless of ruling political party, is more than willing to provide opportunities for Black men and women to die in war. That same government, regardless of ruling political party, has never shown the same fervor in providing employment opportunities for Black people. Ultimately, Black people must look to Black people to employ Black people. Black people must make a serious, unbroken commitment to group economics — the lives of young Black men and women literally depend on it.
War may or may not come in the near future as a direct response to Soleimani’s killing. Either way, young Black men and women are vulnerable to the whimsical nature of American foreign policy. That reality has always been and without committed action on the part of Black people, will always be. Group economics is not merely a fantasy of the “woke” but in fact, a life or death matter.