Racism is a terrible emotion and a prime topic of discussion these days. White racism against black Americans is the focus. This is an important issue because it has been a core defect of our democracy. Racism is an ugly but natural human trait. We evolved as tribal animals where we hated those outside our group. We also evolved as intelligent, cooperative animals capable of cooperating. This enabled us to enlarge our tribes – eventually to nations, alliances, and hopefully eventually to a peaceful world. But we have been Homo Sapiens for only about 200,000 years which is microseconds in evolutionary time. The old instincts are still in us.
Racism will continue to exist for all our lifetimes. We can’t disinfect it from people’s brains, but we can work to make it a disfavored point of view and make any physical or economic implementation of it illegal. All racism is evil, but for Americans rasism against blacks is the worst because of our history. For the first hundred plus years they were slaves. We fought a great war to free them, but after a brief period of Reconstruction, a long period of Jim Crow (blatant in the South, subtle in the North) began. The civil rights movement started in the 1950’s and accomplished much in confirming and protecting legal rights for blacks. Paralell cultural changes brought blacks more into the mainstream of American life.
So are we done? No. I think claims that there is still wide spread sociatal and system bias are wrong. But there are still pockets of it that need to be cleaned up. There is still inertia from the old days. One example I notice is that police forces in many major cities are still overwelmingly white despite growing black populations. Even years after desegregation I noticed in my home town of Houston there are still schools that are 99% black.
While I think we need to continue work on the mindset work, our main focus should be bringing blacks into mainstream society economically. Part of our success has been bringing many blacks into the middle class, but so many are still left behind. Poverty tends to beget poverty so braking the train is difficult. Now might be a good time to get to work. Changes in society and technology are changing what work is and will require retraining for everyone. Let’s make sure plenty of that training gets to the black community. This will need to be supported by improved school education as much of the new work will involve technical and math skills.
When it comes to employment, the best solution is more jobs. In fact, the job growth just before the COVID19 was slowly diminishing the discrepancy between whites and blacks. The new opportunity zones now being introduced in distressed areas will help bring jobs.
Bringing blacks into the American manstream has taken to long. The Irish, Italians, Germans, and other immigrats came after the blacks. They had their struggles but integrated much faster. Let’s finish this job.