My Turn: Solve racial inequality correctly this time

  • Author Ta-Nehisi Coates (left) and actor Danny Glover (right) testify about reparations for the descendants of slaves during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Capitol in Washington on June 19, 2019. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 7/31/2020 6:00:15 AM

In a “My Turn” by Paul Hodes on June 11, a case was made for reparations for descendants of American slaves. The article goes about reparations in the wrong way.

The solution proposed is a typical Democratic Party approach to solving our problems. That is, let the federal government fund our problems.

The article points to, because of George Floyd’s inexcusable death, an “uncomfortable truth that white people have been kneeling on Black people’s necks for centuries.” On the contrary, most white Americas are not racists and are empathetic to the need for racial justice in America.

America elected a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives including his own, he abolished slavery.

And a Republican president, Andrew Johnson, was impeached because he proceeded with the Reconstruction policy of Lincoln. This U.S. Supreme Court struck down “Jim Crow” laws and inequality in education for people of color.

President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, waged a “War on Poverty.” In the last 50 years, America spent $50 billion on that war and poverty still exists.

Martin Luther King Jr. influenced the federal government to pass sweeping civil rights legislation that allowed people of color to have more access to the American Dream.

Democratic mayors have controlled major American cities for years. Why did they not eliminate the use of chokeholds by police?

My solution to racial inequality is to get the 10 largest companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 list to put together a fund that could raise the $50 billion to address the needs of people of color today.

The Business Roundtable is studying the best approach to solving this problem of inequality.

IBM has created PTECH, an educational initiative that enrolls students in depressed areas into this program. PTECH teaches students soft skills to help them get good paying jobs. There is also a program called “Years UP” that does similar work.

This fund can than pick ZIP codes that need broadband, computers, and the trainers to give people of color a more level playing field in which to narrow the income inequality gap.

Rep. John Lewis, in a speech at St. Anselm College in 2016, asked the right question: “Where do we go from here? We have come so far.”

He asked the right question, unfortunately he was supporting the failed civil rights policies of the Obama-Biden administration because it was a speech in support of Hillary Clinton.

It is President Donald Trump who created, through fiscal policies, the lowest unemployment rate for people of color in 50 years, increased their take-home pay, and got meaningful criminal justice reform legislation passed.

Let me introduce you to a brilliant African-American writer, Dr. Shelby Steele, the author of the book White Guilt.

In a Wall Street Journal article, “White Guilt and the Western Past,” Steele explains that the radical left works to stigmatize America with its past by the mechanism of white guilt. We see these actions today in the Democratic Party, where the party ceded the moral high ground to the far left, which creates anti-American feelings. These actions are epitomized in the New York Times 1619 Project.

White America needs to stop being stigmatized by this white guilt complex and take back the moral high ground if America is going to see the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. become reality. Dissociating ourselves from white guilt allows white people and nonwhite people to appreciate something extraordinary: a truly remarkable moral transformation, that is the abandonment of white supremacy, as Steele noted.

In that June 11 “My Turn,” Paul Hodes noted that we had an African American president for eight years in the White House. Unfortunately, the Obama-Biden administration missed a great opportunity to advance the cause of racial justice. Hodes also had the audacity to call President Trump a coward without presenting any facts.

Here are the facts to the contrary of Hodes’s claim.

It took great courage for President Trump to tell our Western allies to bring current their financial commitment to NATO instead of putting that burden on the shoulders of the American taxpayers. It took courage to tell Canada and Mexico to stop taking advantage of American workers through NAFTA and sending American jobs to Mexico and Canada. Most importantly, it took great courage for Trump to tell China it must stop stealing American intellectual property and using tariffs to take away American jobs. Obama and Biden are the real cowards because they knew these problems existed but did not have the courage to address them for American workers. That is why Hillary Clinton lost the presidency.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, whom Hodes quotes in his “My Turn,” wrote that “more important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation . . . into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”

I agree. That is why we need to create that fund, which can be a start for the federal government to follow in narrowing the income gap.

I commend to those reading this piece to read the entire Steele article from 2006 and his book, White Guilt.

The case to abandon the stigma of white guilt, which the far-left radicals want to burden us and our children with, is strong. The time for people of all colors to come together to solve the problem of racial injustice is now.

(Joseph Mendola lives in Warner.)

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