Let's make this a sequel to my April post on the root causes of health and happiness.
One of the most maddening and ignorant criticisms of the warranted uproar over unwarranted assaults on and killings of African Americans by police officers is, "But what about 'black on black' violence? More blacks are killed by blacks than by whites. See."
I will not discuss here the problems with flippant use of the phrase "black on black violence," which should be immediately obvious. Numerous others have articulated this very well. Here's a good one:
I'm not going to discuss the absurdity or transparency of attempts to change the topic from what amounts to state-sponsored terrorism against specific communities, Here's an excellent piece reflecting a conversation on this issue, and which gets to what I will discuss:
I'm also not going to discuss the fact that most violence is intraracial, and crime data by race are easy enough to dig up, with white men contributing the greatest number of offenses. Yet who among us has ever used or heard the phrase "white on white violence?" African Americans are fully aware of the level of violence in many of our communities. But violence in the U.S. goes beyond numbers, beyond race. Whether it's school shootings, clinic shootings, neighborhood drug wars, domestic assaults, church bombings, etc., numbers are a weak and often dangerous tool for shedding light on cause. They are woefully overused to build argument as they cannot elucidate the deep, complex social, political, economic, psychological and other forces that apparently conflate in the brains of too many men (I would comfortably argue that the sex of those perpetuating violence is way more important than race).
Picking up where FDR left off
If we honestly want to end the violence that feels almost endemic and epidemic in distressed communities, let's pick up where FDR left off, with that "Second Bill of Rights" or "Economic Bill of Rights." It needs some tweaking, but it would certainly be a start.
I know I have company in never having heard of FDR's 1944 proposal until Senator Bernie Sanders' speech at Georgetown University. In his State of the Union, FDR laid out eight rights to provide a foundation of security and prosperity for all Americans. The full statement can be read here. I summarize those rights below in my own words, to make them more appropriate to the present day, at least in my mind:
I dream of adding to this list, such as the right to public transportation (think of the jobs to be created and the environmental benefits reaped by building the infrastructure to get people to those decent paying jobs).
Is it such a stretch to imagine establishing these as rights in the U.S.? In "Should Black Lives Matter..." referenced above, Glenn Loury (Brown University economist) states,
Some will say "research needs to be done" to determine whether the availability of decent jobs with livable wages, decent housing, good schools and the opportunity for all youth to go to college would reduce violence in distressed communities. But picture how much stress would be alleviated from those communities already, through the immediate improvements to where people live, work, grow, and learn. Think of how the psychological and economic demand for drugs would shrink. How possibilities would open up for youth.
Aside from this being a matter of justice, bringing quality housing, education, and health care into everyone's daily life, not just those who can pay for them is the practical thing to do, and it is sustainable. What we have going on now is not. What we have now is insanely expensive by any measure and is only hurrying us down a path of real instability as a nation.
But that racism problem
A massive root cause left unaddressed by the Economic Bill of Rights, of course, is racism and other forms of prejudice. In this very interesting campaign year, various candidates keep talking about "addressing institutionalized racism." Being biracial and coming from a terrifically multi-ethnic family, and having seen from birth what a social construct "race" is, I honestly do not know what can be done about racism. It is utterly irrational, and I cannot consider it anything but one of the most severe and insidious mental disorders of the human mind.
Senator Hillary Clinton, speaking with Black Lives Matter members, stated vigorously, "I don't believe you change hearts." That level of cynicism in someone promoting herself as a leader horrified me. We have seen clear evidence to the contrary through how same-sex marriage evolved from being a major battle to nearly a shoo-in in many states once it reached the ballot. We elected our first African American President, we have a Latina on the Supreme Court, and the two major Democratic Presidential candidates for 2016 are a Jewish man and a woman. We have seen massive changes in American hearts and minds in recent years.
In order to enact the changes we are overdue for, to bring equality and equity to all, we have to change hearts and minds. We have to see that we are all better off - even the top 1% - when we are all respected, healthy, contributing positively to our families and our society, and seeing our children dream, knowing there's the possibility of that dream being realized.
Yours in the struggle - Carla
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Carla is a dancer, writer, observer, spouse, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, expatriated New Yorker turned Maine-iac, and warrior for a saner world. For less interesting details, check her out on LinkedIn.