Fri 2020-06-12 00:30
I really feel like the Black Lives Matter movement squandered an opportunity in recent days. They organized, took to the streets, shook up the establishment, and when they had the attention of the nation they demanded... "defund the police." An idea which (almost) nobody in this country will actually get behind when the political rubber meets the road. I can think of two different demands that would have not only directly improved the lives of black Americans in poverty, but would have likely garnered widespread support from many Americans:
- End the expensive, destructive, and ultimately pointless War on Drugs that has been waged in the U.S. for nearly 50 years. Decriminalize at a national level the possession and sale of common narcotics (at least cannabis, if not cocaine and certain psychedelics, as well). Discharge sentences and expunge the convictions of non-violent drug-related offenders so that they can rejoin society without the crippling stigma of a criminal record. Maybe take the roughly $40 billion we spend as a nation every year enforcing morality and instead spend it on improving the many failed inner-city school systems in our country.
- Repeal the ill-considered, socially damaging policies that encourage and even enforce single-parent households for families in need of government assistance programs like welfare and public housing.
Low-income black Americans are impacted by the War on Drugs to a disproportionate degree, criminal convictions for even non-violent drug offenses are basically employment-ending events, and over 50% of black children in America grow up in a home without a father. While I agree that we need police reform and demilitarization I don't think what high-crime neighborhoods need are fewer (or no) cops. And I don't think that's what the people who actually live in those places really want!
Unfortunately, the problems faced by black Americans in poverty are complex and not readily solved by three-word, easy-to-chant, fits-on-a-banner solutions. Hang on a second! I've got one that might actually help to solve our country's problems: