Complex problems demand complicated solutions. America’s problem with racial injustice is nothing short of that. It is the single most difficult issue facing America today. That includes immigration, debt, and the impact technology will have on society with regard to AI and robotics. But, why is this problem difficult to solve? It requires one to focus on America’s complicated past, while addressing the reality of today, to determine a path forward for tomorrow.
How did we get here? The obvious is the grotesque video of the atrocity that happened to George Floyd. But, the anger was brewing well before the video. In short, this couldn’t have happened at a worse time in our country. Every American has been dealt tumultuous blows in the past two months due to COVID-19. Most have been cooped up inside for weeks, with anger and frustration boiling over due to the situation at hand. Now, this. This was the equivalent of dropping a match in a room filled with gasoline resting on top of billows of hay.
But, Americans were angry about racial injustice long before Coronavirus. The anger has grown since Charlottesville, and it certainly goes beyond that. There’s been an ongoing divide in this nation for decades. Socioeconomic problems, income inequality, and a rigged system have been common phrases we’ve heard through the years. American capitalism has allowed the rich to get richer, while the middle class continues to disappear, and the poor keep growing in numbers. A system where one’s last name determines future success, and one’s residential zip code determines the lack thereof.
America is, and has been divided along racial lines. However, we are divided among class more than we realize. The politicians and media do not want us to know or feel this way. Why? Then they would be outnumbered. It’s easier to divide us by race, religion, education levels, sexual orientation, and gender. It’s a situation that doesn’t end well for media moguls and political elite to begin dividing us squarely around class. Uniting around shared economic principles, while simultaneously agreeing there are racial issues that need to be addressed and solved, is something that the majority of Americans should and can get behind.
Extrapolate the problem into different segments.
- Law Enforcement
- Community relations with the police
- Police disciplinary actions with regard to current laws
- Criminal Justice System
- Unfair tactics creating disproportionate arrests/jail time based on race and income levels
- Socioeconomic Problems
- Education systems that provide minimal hope and opportunity for low income residents
- Family breakdown or difficulty due to a lack of childcare
- Local Government
- Local officials not working in the best interests of their constituents
- Community Involvement
- Direct investment at the local level from larger organizations like major corporations
The most obvious problem today is law enforcement. First, precincts need to be involved with the local communities they serve. Attempts need to be made to understand the problems on the ground. The police must try to work together with local leaders and influential members of the community to peacefully and safely enforce the law. This is done through involvement and communication which bridges the gap of misunderstanding. We can never expect the police to work well with the group they are commissioned to serve and protect unless they get to know the people they work for.
Next, it is time for new nationwide legislation addressing police missteps. Right now, police officers are subjected to the same laws as regular citizens. This should change. The military has tribunals and courts separate from civilian ones. Police need something similar. Independent arbitrators should be handling police offenses, and the arbiter must be entirely separated from the police force, unions, and internal affairs. A system of sentences and laws should be established at the high level to address brutality, especially murder.
Trying a police officer against our current justice system creates problems for prosecutors, and furthers the misunderstandings by the public when some are let off easy, or entirely. It is because the set of laws on the books do not single-handedly address the offense relative to their profession. This muddying of the waters confuses jury pools, and makes it easier for the defense to convince a jury that the officer isn’t guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After all, they’re typically told, he was simply doing his job. Our nation has laws on the book that address particular offenses. These are laws like driving under the influence, crime of passion, and crimes involving minors or domestic abuse. It is time for laws that solely address the missteps and offenses of law enforcement.
Criminal Justice System
The criminal justice system is unquestionably rigged against low income earners, most of which are minorities. This is a tremendous problem. Money in our justice system works, and typically results in lesser sentences for those who can afford to fight the case. We need to find a way to change this. But, how? We could flip the capitalistic system upside down. Right now, the highest paid state employee is often a college football coach. We reward the wrong people with riches. The justice system loses top defenders and prosecutors at local levels because of money from the private sector. We should be focused on keeping the top lawyers on local payrolls to help those citizens most in need. Those who can’t afford proper counsel. This can be changed when states reallocate funds.
We also need bail reform, but practical bail reform. New York state recently changed the law allowing for most offenders to be treated the same under new guidance. This was misguided legislation. Some lawbreakers should be set free, such as first time offenders, or those who commit petty crime. Others undoubtedly should remain in jail, or have high bail until their time in court. But, reforming the bail system, and offering impoverished citizens valuable counsel is a huge step in the right direction.
Finally, we need to take minor offenses off the books. The obvious being marijuana possession. There are many laws that officers get offenders with when they go looking for something other than, shall we say, privileged lawbreakers don’t get caught with. We need to fix this, and it is easy. Either take the laws off the books, or instruct law enforcement to cease enforcing certain ones.
The deck is stacked economically against many low income earners from the moment they are born into an impoverished family residing in an overlooked zip code. This can be addressed. First, the education system needs to be reversed. We currently have educators striving to find themselves in nicer schools, in nicer neighborhoods. Well, a teacher in an affluent zip code makes the same as a teacher in an impoverished zip code. We could incentivize educators to work in communities that are overlooked in our education system. Schools could become better in low income communities if we created a path where better educators sought out employment at these schools.
Another way to enhance the education system is to bring in outside individuals to teach, like many colleges do with certain professors. Successful businesspersons, science professionals, and other accomplished people should be brought in to teach classes, just like our system of higher education allows for. This can offer students uniquely enhanced education, valuable lessons, and networking opportunities.
Next, the family structure is considerably more difficult in low income communities. This is because of childcare. Creating a way that individuals in lower income neighborhoods could have cheap, or free and reliable childcare will maintain stability in the family units financially and developmentally. We can have businesses receive tax breaks if they offer their employees free, or reduced care. We can also set up methods where there is greater access to childcare through other organizations, like religious groups that serve these communities.
Another way to improve the situation is changing school years to year round, as opposed to nine-month. Continual education not only prepares the child for the reality of their working life that lies ahead, but it also keeps the student in the classroom for more days throughout the year, therefore, limiting the ability for one to get into trouble. Finally, the time a child starts school in the AM, and ends in the afternoon should replicate the actual business day, versus the current structure. This allows for less time the child would be unattended, and make the childcare line up more appropriately with the workday.
Local leaders are failing their constituents. They are not helping. If they were, we’d see impoverished communities show improvement. This means that local leaders are likely corrupt and not in it for the best reasons, or they’re restricted in their ability to make a change due to lack of funding, or other bureaucratic hurdles. Regardless of the outcome, local voters must be focused on this problem, and demand changes, or vote them out. Americans spend far too much time focusing attention on the highest level of politics, like the presidency, when in fact, the local leaders matter more in their daily lives.
The local judges who can decide your fate should be something you’re aware of. The character of the attorney general prosecuting you or your family should be understood. The people sitting on your city council who determine what daily life looks like should be realized. The folks elected to control the education board that make decisions as to how your children will be taught need to be known. Finally, the local leaders who are charged with appropriating funds received from local, state, and federal taxes must be household names. This is what will affect your daily life. These people are the ones who can actually make differences, good and bad.
Finally, the top levels of government, whether it be funding from departments in D.C., or funds dispersed from local governors, are needed in these impoverished communities. However, both the departments at the top, and the governors need to provide the seeds to watch their locales grow. The seeds are funding. Then, they need to get the hell out of the way with the exception of proper oversight for the appropriation of funds. The connection to ensure it works is also oversight from the voters. We could make city and community budgets even more transparent. This will help ensure the proper allocation of resources happen. It will hold everyone accountable.
It takes a village. There is a missing piece that must be addressed. We can incentivize corporations to help lend a hand. Major US corporations have never been in better financial health. This is why the USA seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster, but the stock market continues to gain. These businesses are often located nearby the most impoverished communities across America. Currently, most major corporations disburse large amounts of philanthropic dollars to other nonprofits to conduct charitable work. But, what if we created a sense of direct investment? Instead of corporations receiving tax breaks from charitable contributions in the form of dollars, it should be tax breaks based on their employees going out into the field and volunteering their time.
This should, and can be implemented by hours employees spend in the local community through education, networking, and mentor sessions. Let’s regularly bring the employees to the local schools, churches, and recreational centers. Let’s give these employees the opportunity to educate students, mentor them, and help build connections that can assist them later in life when they need employment. This is activism. This is direct community involvement. We don’t need companies like Facebook building a park in a low income neighborhood. We need their employees educating students as to how they can grow up to become software engineers. We don’t need companies like JP Morgan Chase painting over graffiti in a bad part of town. We need their employees educating students as to how they can grow up to become successful financiers. Send these employees into the city to directly educate, mentor, and assist teachers. This is how you can reverse the system.
So, how does this get fixed? It takes leadership from the top, a bipartisan gathering, and a coordinated effort across business, political, and local leaders. A consortium of ideas, fighting for the common good. That commonality is an opportunity for everyone to seek out economic success, while living in a community that they feel safe in. It’s an achievable dream that isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
What this nation needs is new ideas and hope. The policies, responses, and actions of the past clearly don’t work. We need action in the form of legislative change. We don’t need to simply throw money at this and think that it will solve the problem. We need leaders who lead with their brains. Not leaders who cower and pump out political talking points like robots. We need those who have the power in this country to present solutions for us that bring us up collectively, instead of baseless policies that serve their public interest donors.
Enough is enough.
If you want change, then follow the money. The money controls the power. The power is being abused. Realize the special interest runs the politics. Call attention to this. Demand change. Boycott companies. Spread this knowledge. Do your own research.
If you want change, then ask yourself how someone is so desperate that they’d loot a store on live TV before you judge them as an animal. Realize that something went wrong in their life that they’ve become so destitute that they’ve resorted to this behavior. This person was left behind in our society.
If you want change, then get rid of the corruption in America by calling attention to it. Put people in power who will actually work for us, instead of their pockets. Restricting the time they stay in power, by voting them out, or requiring term limits accomplishes this task.
Socrates once said –
“Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.”
We need ideas, creative solutions, and visionary leadership.
This article may resonate with you, and if you want to make a difference now, go carry out your activism on the ground. Go volunteer. Don’t donate money. Donate your time and share your experiences. Learn from others. Share your story with those less fortunate than you, and then listen to their story. Discover why they are in the situation they are in. Get to know how they feel. Realize there is more that unites us, than divides us. Share the gift of education with those less fortunate than you. Build people up. Present them solutions. Give them hope. Understanding your privilege is best done not through a post on social media, but by going to visit people in situations different from yours. Work with others, be alongside those who come from different backgrounds, and find common ground.
Even if those at the top don’t want to fix this, we outnumber them, and we can fix these problems without them. But, we have to believe that first.