No black or white person living today is responsible for what any black or white person did in the past.It's true enough, but what is the message? What prompted it? It's true enough, but to me, it is an attempt to deny the problems slavery, segregation, and racism--both institutionalized and overt--cause in the present.
First, there's the concept of inherited wealth. Slavery in the United States seems like a thing of the distant past, but it really wasn't that long ago. My maternal grandfather's grandfather lived through the Civil War. Imagine not having property after the war. No money, few possessions, no certain employment...and no slave was allowed to be literate. Add segregation and overt racism, lynchings and voter suppression laws (poll taxes, literacy tests), and it not only was difficult for anyone whose skin color was dark to get ahead, it was nearly impossible. Some did, but it's difficult to deny the struggle when there were groups actively working to suppress every person of color. Not only were possessions difficult to accumulate that would be passed down from one generation to the next, but also educational advantage. Educated, literate parents are a huge advantage for their children in the area of education. Lack of material and intellectual wealth makes entrepreneurship and the ability to get into good jobs extremely difficult.
Secondly, there's segregation. It was legal and enforced, and it didn't end until 1968. Segregation caused all sorts of problems, and even where it wasn't the law, it happened. Separating people creates a cultural divide, but it's worse than that. Urban flight makes it difficult for poor minorities to get jobs, because the jobs move farther and farther away from urban centers, where minorities disproportionately live. Furthermore, less interaction between races meant fewer connections could be made that would extend into job opportunities and resources.
Finally, there's the racism that still exists. There are people denied housing, jobs, service, and all sorts of things, simply because of the color of their skin. People who complain about other people "using the race card" don't live it. I don't live it, but I know people who do. I have dear friends who have. It bothers me to no end. I've also seen it from people whose skin color is closer to my own. I've heard employers speak in positive terms about the fact that they've moved their businesses far from the bus lines so fewer black people would apply. I've known landlords to discriminate, passing over applications from black prospective tenants to give the dwelling to white tenants. I've heard people say they wouldn't sell their houses to black people. The racism is real. It's not imagined. The worst part is that law enforcement disproportionately targets black people, and the justice system is not balanced when it comes to sentencing white people verses black.
There are people who would deny that the opportunities for black people are unequal, but racism is real, institutionalized or otherwise. Segregation continued long after it was made illegal, simply because the divisions were already there. Lack of inherited wealth has kept black families from having the advantages of white families with property. No, we're not responsible for what people did in the past, but we are responsible for recognizing the problems and rectifying them, because they're not alive to do it, and we're better than that...or if we're not, we should strive to be.