Sunday, January 19, 2020

Gains and Losses on Equality

For all of the terrible news coming out of this administration, there is some good long-terms news on race and equity this Martin Luther King Day.

It seems that those good old liberal ideas, Affirmative Action and the war on Poverty, have had a positive effect on American society. That's right: the two programs that Republicans have been running against since 1964 have, to a large degree, been working. There's no long-terms evidence that whites and men have born the brunt of the laws, nor have they been wastes of time, effort and money. In fact, the United States is a more integrated society because of these laws and they continue to contradict the utter helplessness of the Trump administration's efforts to use race so that whining conservatives have something to talk about on TV and the radio.

The key, it seems, is that corporate America has bought into the truth that diversity in the workplace makes us a more tolerant society and yields more productive and creative experiences. Of course, their concern is profit, but as far as I can see, profits have not suffered as these companies have become more representative of the country. I will also give credit to the major sports leagues and arts organizations, who have used pressure on recalcitrant state and local governments when they attempt to impose discriminatory laws to satisfy those people who are not enlightened.

Despite all of this, we have a long way to go before we have a truly equal society. Discrimination and racism are still rampant in many industries and the wealth gap between African-Americans and whites is as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon. And as long as the president continues to stoke the racial divide and betray an attitude towards women and the LGBTQ community that makes Neanderthals look progressive, we will continue to suffer from a problem that should have been solved long ago.

We have spent four decades under the influence of trickle-down economics and calls for smaller government. The effects of these are, and were, predictable. The gap between the wealthy and everyone else has yawned. Spending on absolute necessities such as schools, drug treatment, family leave laws, tuition subsidies, infrastructure, transportation that doesn't include cars, job retraining, and health care has been cut back or nonexistent. Many of these deficiencies have fallen hardest on the minority community and women, who bear the responsibility for working and caring for children, and face the brunt of criticism when the lack of programs force them to make choices that whiter, wealthier people see as threatening to American culture. Whatever that has become.

On this Martin Luther King holiday, let's continue to work for a more inclusive society, and let's work to make sure that one year from now, we are preparing for the inauguration of a president who values diversity, inclusion, educational equity, and exhibits a vocabulary of healing and justice.

Dreams are great, but reality is much better.

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