By Matt Johnson
If you were expecting any solutions concerning the criminal justice system or economic experience for many black folks in this country during the vice presidential debate, then you are one optimistic person.
The reality of the situation is that policy makers from the local level to the federal level have no idea how to fix such complicated social systems’ issues. In fact, they have no idea how to address such issues. Of course, policy makers will not only state with platitudes that they can fix such systems but they will attempt to address such systems challenges with the same linear thinking and the same policies; that is, a singular policy here and there. As an example, every American city with respect to black neighborhoods over the past 4 decades still experiences disparities different from that of white neighborhoods in unemployment, crime, housing (foreclosures and condemned and vacant buildings), and education.
This is my research. If you give me a city with a depressed system, I can tell with a high level of certainty that these variables will exist in these depressed systems in great densities. In addition, if you tell me a part of the city is experiencing high crime, high unemployment, high levels of foreclosures and condemned and vacant buildings, and low levels of education, I will be able to tell how that system is behaving; and it’s not behaving in a way that would increase the utility of the residents.
When I worked in policy at the local level for a short time, I found that policy makers were at a loss for how to address these issues. In their defense, these challenges existed long before they took office. But there seem to be no idea or a movement towards an idea of how to even address such issues. Policy makers for some reason seem hell-bent on tackling one issue at a time instead of taking a systems approach when dealing with these social systems. And make no mistake, they are social systems.
But then again, why should we be surprised?
Black unemployment has been twice that of whites since the 1960’s (there are several sources that state this fact); neighborhoods are still largely segregated (this hasn’t changed, see Minneapolis, Milwaukee, etc…); there is a market place for black businesses and a market place for white businesses (see the second clause for why this is); and apparently a lot of white people are upset about Luke Cage being predominantly black (welcome to segregation – it’s as American as Apple Pie).
Perhaps I ought to upset some of my readers by making this point about segregation. It is true that more black folks kill black folks than black folks kill white folks, but more white folks kill more white folks than white folks kill black folks. I respectfully request you refer back to clause two and three on my points about segregation. Because of these facts, I assert the experience black folks in this country is much different from those of white folks. But perhaps an additional uncomfortable example ought to be illustrated.
The white market place produces millions of more jobs and produces trillions of more dollars than the black market place. As Tim Wise has stated several times in his articles, white folks have had a 300 plus year head start and that is demonstrated in the geography of U.S. cities, and in the success in the market place.
Have I destroyed your optimism yet?
I have written about the black experience quite often on this website. I have picked up and published other articles from other sources concerning the black experience. At no point have I written about or come across something that is equal or equitable between black and white folks. So when I listen to the debates and I hear Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump, Tim Kaine, and Mike Pence discuss race and the criminal justice system, I want to pound a ping-pong paddle against my head.
In all fairness to them, they are removed from such geographical locations and all of them do have their own responsibilities and lives to live. However, if a person is planning to be president or vice president of the United States, and he or she knows the topics of the debate ahead of time, then it follows one could do their homework and at least make it look like they know what they are talking about when it comes to these issues.
Until then…Good luck, Charlotte!
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