Why The Black Community Is Failing Their Potential

Self Actualisation definition: “the realisation or fulfilment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”

This process would involve the Black man, woman, and child to be:

  1. Conscious- We must be aware of and responding to our environment and having knowledge of what it is to be a community and “Black” in relation to a racist and discriminatory surrounding.

  2. Fulfilled – We must be able to achieve something desired, promised, or predicted but our kids are already being labelled with ADHD, behavioural problems, low IQ; lack of positive role models; Our women are labelled as undesired, strong and single, stuck up and promiscuous; And our men are labelled criminals, Mandingos, uneducated, failures, dead beat, and predicators. There is little expectations placed on us by us and other races to achieve anything good, from going into higher education to being a pro-active parent.

  3. Talented- We must have a natural aptitude or skill for something but how can we acquire talents if we are pulled out of self discovery and education? We have a high rate of teen mothers, low rate in completing higher education (mainly due to high costs), and the highest  school exclusion rates, especially amongst our Caribbean boys. How can we see our potential with poor role models, low income jobs, poor diets and daily prejudice?

  4. Motivated – We must be living for a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. When we are told “you are a “fatherless””- what reason do we have to be a good a parent? When we are told “you are “broken””- What reason do we have to be healed and end a dysfunctional cycle? When we are told “you are “a criminal””- what reason do we have to respect the authority and expect to have justice and be part of the justice system reform?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

In order for us to be motivated to reach our potential, we must have our basic needs met before self-actualisation can be accomplished.


Physiological needs:

According to HIV and Black African Communities in the UK June 2014: A Policy Report:

  • HIV disproportionately affects Black African men and women living in the UK. Whilst black Africans constitute 1.8% of the UK resident population, they accounted in 2012 for 34% of all people diagnosed with HIV.

  • This is one of the starkest examples of health inequalities in this country and something which should be addressed urgently.

According to HIV and Black Caribbean communities in the UK July 2010: A Policy Report:

  • Black Caribbeans make up 1% of the UK population but account for 3% of people living with HIV.

  • A national Black Caribbean HIV prevention strategy does not currently exist. And this was still true in 2015: “In the past decade there has been a five-fold increase in the number of black Caribbeans accessing HIV care in the UK. However, there is no dedicated national HIV prevention strategy for black Caribbean communities, and very few Caribbean-specific support services. ” (http://www.nat.org.uk/HIV-in-the-UK/Key-Issues/HIV_Prevention/Prevention.aspx)

Safety needs:

According to the Homelessness among black communities in the London Borough of Islington report 2007:

  • In 2001, Black African and Black Caribbean households represented 9% of all those accepted as homeless. The Black population was 2.3% (Census 2001), which clearly suggests that homelessness is over three times greater among the Black community.

  • In the past 15 years, whilst homelessness has decreased among the overall population, it has continued to increase among the BME/Black communities.

According to the 2015 Inequality, Housing and Employment Statistics report:

  • In 2009, the Wealth and Assets Survey revealed that the ‘average white household’ had roughly £221,000 in assets, Black Caribbean households had about £76,000, and Black African households £15,000.

  • In 2013/14 , just over 40 per cent of the Black/African/Caribbean/Black British groups and ‘Other’ ethnic groups had ‘relatively low income’ .

  • The Race Equality Foundation showed in 2013 that overcrowding is most commonly experienced by Black African and Bangladeshi groups

  • According to the ‘Social Policy in a Cold Climate’ (SPCC) research programme, between 2007/8 and 2012/13, in London, the unemployment rate for white majority communities increased by 1.8 per cent; and 3.0 per cent for Black/African/Caribbean communities.

Love/Belonging needs:

  • In the 2011 Census, 21 per cent of single parents are from a Black or minority ethnic background (including those of other White origin, apart from White British), compared with 16 per cent nationally .

According to Fatherhood Institute Research Summary: African Caribbean fathers (2010):

  • Black and Black British fathers are twice as likely as white British fathers (and three times as likely as British Asian fathers) to live apart from their children; and high rates of non-resident fatherhood are also found where children are of Mixed Heritage .

Esteem needs:

According to Minority Ethnic Attainment and Participation in Education and Training: The Evidence (2003)

  • National level statistics from PLASC 2002 show different levels of Special Educational Needs (SEN) across ethnic group. Twenty eight percent of Black Caribbean, 22% of Black African, and 25% Black other secondary school pupils were recorded as having special educational needs compared with 18 percent of White pupils.

  • This pattern of SEN is broadly similar to the pattern of attainment of all pupils: lower attainment amongst Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils, and higher attainment amongst Indian and Chinese pupils.

According to 2013 Voice article ‘Are Black Children Failing In School?’ :

  • Black Caribbean pupils are almost four times more likely to be excluded and 11 times more likely than white British girls, according to a report by the Children’s Commissioner. Eighty per cent of all exclusions are boys.

Self actualisation:

So we can see from just some of the facts that we are facing problematic factors that the Black community struggle we have  to overcome. How do we expect ourselves to reach self actualisation?

Our underachievement is no longer an anomaly that needs to be addressed; it is to be expected! Expectations from White society and Black communities. Systems that we are living have low expectations which is damaging our community’s motivation and confidence thus dooming us to a life of underachievement and disharmony. 

The Heart of the Possible Solutions

  • Raise our expectations – It allows Black men, women, and children to have a road-map to see what our journey may look like (including guides along the journey such as successful and diverse role models).

  • Encourage transition from the unconscious African mind to the conscious African mind. To celebrate the gained knowledge and rituals that reinforces the expectations of being a community, one body, one goal. We must create ways for everyone to contribute to nation building and in turn have a sense of self being actualised as a Black nation.

  • To capture Black youth’s imagination of what it is to acquire power, wealth and community strength to start building tangible legacies. This cannot be done without the village. We have to abandon the individualistic psychology of the Western society and go back and reincorporate the collective psychology of our ancestors that was able to build Timbuktu and established maths, science, and the arts.

  • Black families have dialogue that shapes what it means to be a successful community (despite geographic differences) that is not tainted by the white supremacy oppressive systems that tell you to be a violent and hateful towards each other.


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