My last post suggests that police reform, while beneficial if done carefully, will not bring about the fundamental change in U.S. race relations which is so badly needed.
There is only one way to bring about such fundamental change. Whites and Blacks must be able to interact with each other more comfortably as social peers. Historically this has been difficult to achieve. The overall social and economic status of Blacks in American society has to improve significantly for this to happen on a widespread basis. How can this be accomplished?
- Adopt a colorblind approach to addressing poverty in the U.S. What I am suggesting is a major coordinated program to give a socio-economic boost to all low-income individuals and families, including Blacks.
- Early childhood education. There is a huge academic achievement gap between middle class kids and kids from low-income families. It is already apparent by grade three and continues to get progressively worse throughout middle and high school. An effective way to improve educational outcomes for low-income kids is through early childhood education. This means intensive intervention with low-income kids at least by age three, if not younger, to make sure that they are ready to succeed academically when they get to kindergarten and first grade.
- Enhanced Economic Opportunity. The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute have put together an excellent proposal for improving economic opportunity for all members of the working class. What is needed is a new social contract, emphasizing the centrality of work but also making it more fulfilling for blue-collar workers. This would include such features as enhanced career education in high school, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit to boost wages, and increased work requirements for public assistance programs (to provide extra motivation to find and hold onto a job).
Summary. Substantially improving the black/white racial climate in the U.S. requires lifting the socio-economic status of American Blacks so that Blacks and Whites can interact on a more equal peer-to-peer basis. This can be more effectively accomplished on a universal interracial basis and could perhaps be considered as the next goal to work for in a more generalized civil rights movement. More concrete details soon!