EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
We are in the midst of a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis—and systemic racism is at the heart of each. The day after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody, the Covid-19 death toll in the United States passed 100,000. Two days after that, the unemployment number passed 40 million. Throughout the pandemic, black people have been infected and have lost their jobs at higher rates than white people.
If we are to have any hope of creating real solutions to these three crises, we must dismantle systemic racism by restructuring those systems that allow it to perpetuate.
This is, of course, a complex task. But Dorian Warren, the president of the Center for Community Change Action, has put forward an important idea for how we can begin: redistribution for reconstruction. According to economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the United States spends twice as much on “law and order”—prisons, courts, and police forces—as we do on cash welfare programs such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The events of this year highlight the urgency of fixing that imbalance.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.