Injecting new magna into a full magna chamber creates volcanic eruptions.
Similarly, heaping injustices on the plates of people whose bellies are bloated with inequities heightens social discontent and unrest.
One is a physical reaction; the other is social, but both deal with stress and the inevitable explosive outcome when that stress builds without relief.
This is not demagoguery. It’s basic science.
The question is whether social activism, which does an excellent job of highlighting the problems, can effectively eliminate or reduce the racist underpinnings of our society.
I’m beginning to think not.
There is no doubt public support of Black Lives Matter activism has risen since George Floyd was murdered by the police May 20.
Yet, “policing outcomes in most places have not” changed (I can affirm that is the case in Worcester), according to Mapping Police Violence, which tracks shootings by police in the U.S.
According to the group, police have killed 751 people during the first 235 days of 2020.
“The police killed more people last year than the year before,” the group reported.
“Racial disparities in outcomes such as arrests and deadly force persist, and the criminal justice system is not more likely to hold police accountable.”
Black Americans, according to the group, are three times more likely to be killed by police. And Black people, it said, makeup 28% of the total figure of those killed by police since 2013, despite being only 13% of the population.
This is not demagoguery. It’s basic math.
And let’s not forget that the police wield their unchecked powers to rub-out black and brown lives on various fronts.
Just asked 24-year-old Ayala-Melendez, formerly of Worcester.
He was on the way to being a framed felon when video evidence contradicting the arresting officer’s report cleared him.
“If the video hadn’t existed, it would have been their word against mine,” Mr. Ayala-Melendez told a local news outlet.
“It would have changed my life.”
He was lucky.
Police reports are the original “alternative facts.”
Long before Kellyanne Conway, former senior adviser to President Trump, used the phrase to mask the lies of the Trump administration, police have been using their reports to cloak their racism and crookedness.
They have used their reports to substantiate unlawful stops, arrests, bogus charges and to help secure prison time and death sentences for black and brown people.
Given the severe consequences of falsified police reports, one would expect those who traffic in such criminal behavior to be separated from the force and prosecuted.
But this is not so.
Officers who falsify arrest reports, such as the one who tried to frame Mr. Ayala-Melendez, are allowed to keep their jobs.
This is not demagoguery. It’s normalized policing.
That’s why Trump is running on a law and order platform.
That is why Gov. Charlie Baker, in one of the bluest states in the country, activated the National Guard recently, not to address a crisis, but to ease his fears of imagined protests.
That’s why Joe Biden is being pushed by Democrats to showcase his moderate creds, like his authoring of the 1994 Crime Bill that led to the mass incarceration of black people.
That’s why suburban voters in swing states could likely secure Trump four more years, despite the president’s racism and despicable behavior in office.
Remember, too, that the police are just one front of the systemic assault on Black lives. Similar injustices occur every day in the workforce, housing, education, health care, etc.
That’s why Booker T. Washington, might have right after all. Economic freedom might be the Blackman’s redemption.
Social activism is essential and necessary in the face of entrenched inequalities, no doubt.
As U.S Senator Cory Booker said Saturday on MSNBC, “Change, from suffrage to civil rights, voting rights doesn’t come from Washington. It comes to Washington by Americans who demand it.”
Still, a focus on economic freedom, particularly in a capitalistic society, may offer the most consistent protection against racists policies and practices.
It is important to note that I didn’t say economic freedom would eliminate racist policies and practices. It could, but that is not its primary aim.
Take the coronavirus, for example.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 41% of Black-owned businesses—some 440,000 enterprises—have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17% of white-owned companies.
“Because a lot of Black business owners don’t have the kind of equity due to structural racism, they have less of a cushion to withstand this particular moment in time,” Andre Perry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said in a National Geography article.
“If Black businesses and individuals had the same type of cushion as their white counterparts, we would not be in this situation.”
That same article noted that “half of all Black families have less than $9,000 in total wealth, while the median wealth for white families is $130,000.”
“If you need $10,000 to get through a rough period, you can do it if you have $130,000,” the article quoted economist Robert W. Fairlie as saying.
“If you have only $9,000 that makes it impossible.”
Some might say this is a chicken and egg issue; that without social protests and political commitment, wealth building in minority communities is not possible.
That may be so, but focusing on economic freedom as a primary social justice tool won’t make the Blackman’s well-being any more tenuous than it is now.
This is not demagoguery. It’s simple economics.