Addressing Racism in the U.S. II. Achieving Fundamental Change

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.

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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!

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5 thoughts on “Addressing Racism in the U.S. II. Achieving Fundamental Change

  1. I have not been reading your column lately, primarily because I have too damn many priorities. Anyway, I found your remarks quite comforting. Yes, such actions need to be implemented. We also need to find more ways for blacks and whites to live along the same sides of streets and in the same neighborhoods.
    Thanks for the information.
    Doug

    • I agree that more integrated residential neighborhoods would greatly advance black/white interaction. The best way to accomplish this is by creating more and better economic opportunities for blacks so that they will be able to afford more expensive homes and apartments and therefore be better able to move into predominately white neighborhoods if they so desire.

    • Doug,

      I might amend your third sentence as follows: “We also need to find more ways for persons with diverse ethnographic stigmata to encounter each other with trustworthy social interactions at all levels of their community’s municipal life.”

      Paul

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