A Way Forward
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
America is struggling in this Summer 2020 with three simultaneous crises: a medical crisis caused by Covid-19 which has infected more than five million Americans and killed over 165,000; an economic crisis which has caused over twenty million job losses and double digit unemployment; and a moral crisis stemming from the racial and social justice awakening associated with the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia at the hands of police and white vigilantes. Voices are raised across the political spectrum, but we are more often shouting at each other rather than talking together. There is no strong center of moral leadership stepping forward to unite the country around a shared vision of the way forward.
I suggest a way forward is to unite around six legislative initiatives to address racial and economic inequities, as follows.
Police reform, including national standards for police training and certification, and independent review procedures to address allegations of police misconduct;
K-12 educational funding to empower communities of color, and also all low-income communities, to have resource parity with wealthy communities which use their local property tax base to invest in schools geared to prep their children for economic success;
Vocational educational funding to provide attractive career opportunities for young adults who choose not to pursue college enrollment, and also training for released prisoners, linked to corporate training and apprenticeship programs;
Increased income support for low-income workers through the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, reinforcing a moral commitment that all who work will be able to afford a standard of living above the poverty level;
Universal medical care access through expansion of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid; and
Increased retirement income support for low-income workers through expanded Social Security benefits.
Economist magazine reported recently that killings by police is the sixth leading cause of death for black males; thirty per cent of prime aged black men ages 25-54 are not participating in the labor force; one-third of the US prison population is black (twice the per capita average); and median white household wealth is 10X that of black households. These socioeconomic conditions in black America are the result of white supremacy culture which erected enormous barriers to black economic progress. White supremacy culture was manifested in the laws which made it illegal to teach slaves to read and write. White supremacy culture was manifested in the Ku Klux Klan destruction of schools to educate freed slaves after the Civil War. White supremacy culture was manifested in the Jim Crow era laws mandating racial segregation. White supremacy culture was manifested in the denial of the New Deal federal mortgage insurance programs to black neighborhoods, thereby denying to black Americans the source of much of the wealth accumulated by middle income white Americans. White supremacy culture continues to be manifested in the ongoing denial of access to adequate resources for high quality education in most black communities.
White Americans should choose now as the time to repudiate white supremacy culture. High quality education and training will unleash the economic potential of black Americans. The American economy will gain millions of additional contributors, performing at higher levels of productivity, and resulting in higher rates of economic growth. This will benefit all Americans. What is stopping white Americans from doing the right thing?