Racial inequity has our economy rigged

Many people still think racism is intentional, conscious and personal. It’s not. As the economic crisis shows, we are facing racial inequities that have their roots in the explicit racism of earlier generations but which now devastate communities of color without intent. This is where we now need to turn our attention.

From Stop the Next American Nightmare by Seth Freed Wessler at Huffington Post

My take:

  • The common argument that “the racism that happened in the past is not important today” is flatly wrong. Some complain that pollution today hurts children in the future. Others say that poor financial decisions will burden our children with unthinkable debts & deficits. In exactly the same fashion, the racism of our forefathers hurts people in the here and now.
  • This is further evidence of the myth of the Post-Racial Society. In order for a Post-Racial Society to come into being, the racism and the remnants of that racism, and them impact of that racism must be dealt with justly.
  • The problem is racism is at a minimum both moral & economic. Once one agrees that racism [and other manifestations of prejudice] are morally wrong, there are economic questions that must be addressed. The Applied Research Center’s report outlines how racism hurt both the hearts and wallets of people of color during this very recession.
  • The solutions to the problem of racism help us all. I’m not a fan of playing the race card unjustifiably. However, when we justly and ethically deal with racist norms, policies and practices, all people benefit.
    • Fair lending practices benefit all people looking to qualify for a home or car loan.
    • Fair admissions & financial aid policies make college education accessible for all students.
    • A more responsible police force better protects all members of community.

One Love. One II.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

3 responses to “Racial inequity has our economy rigged”

  1. Ellen says :

    I think fair needs to be refined here. As I tell my students, fair is subjective.

  2. Billione says :

    There are bigger issues than this, but until we are progressive enough to remove slave holders/owners from the money we use every day and stop identifying them as being our forefathers, racism will always be visible in our society.

  3. Garlin II says :

    @Ellen, that’s a good point that I somewhat purposely did not delve into in those points. Nevertheless, I’ll lay out broadly the components of fairness in my book:

    Equal opportunity. Just like there is a difference between truth and fact, there is a difference between fairness and equality. While fairness is indeed subjective, equality isn’t. Either two number are equal, or their not. Similarly, either every eligible has the same chance, or the don’t. Fairness here is characterized by designing eligibility criteria that measure the nuances of fitness in ways that differentiate, not discriminate.

    Maximum mutual benefit. When one side in an interaction benefits disproportianately to another, the fairness of that interaction must be questioned. To use a sports analogy, when the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson this season, Denver got an unequivovally better deal than Detroit. While Denver is playing for the right to get to the Finals, the Pistons were swept in the first round of the Playoffs. That transaction was unwise and unfair. Fair deals are those where as many parties as possible benefit as much as possible. This is the premise behind the phrase & policy of the Square Deal that was used by President Theodore Roosevelt. To build upon an example from the post, college admissions and financial aid policies characterized by maximum mutual benefit result in a strong, diverse student body where students can concentrate on learning and not money in a more rigorous academic environment. This benefits the school because the vitality of the student body is maintained, and it’s reputation strengthened. This benefits the students because they have the opportunity to become educated, productive members of society and the workforce. This benefits the country because it maximizes our human capital and potential as a nation, equipping us with the creativity and tools to improve the condition of our world. Everybody wins.

    Visible and accessible damage control. Even fair, well-intentioned plans don’t work out sometimes. When that happens, there has to be a way for all parties to be made whole again. Visibility means that I can literally see the path to make things right. Accessibility means that I can actually walk down that path. An example where this is not the case is with citizens wishing to file grievances against corporations. Sure, I know that I can sue a company that pollutes my drinking water (it’s visible), but I can’t afford to do so and beat their dedicated, well-paid legal team (it’s not accessible).

    I hope that makes things a bit more clear. Of course, let me know if ti doesn’t.

    One Love. One II.

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