Correcting for Systemic Racism

I read Sheryll Cashin’s piece in Politico on addressing the problem of systemic racism with alacrity, hoping to see some specific, pointed, and effective proposals. I was disappointed but not particularly surprised at how limited her suggestions were. These are about as specific as they get:

Advocates have argued that because redlined federal mortgage-insurance programs invested hundreds of billions (in present dollars) in pro-white wealth-building, new investments should be allocated now to Black communities. A $60 billion investment in communities hit hardest by Covid-19 could be financed by repealing the tax breaks for large corporations that were included in the first federal Covid-19 relief package. Alternatively, Senator Cory Booker and others have proposed focusing on targeted investment in redlined communities, including by providing “baby bonds” to every child born in the United States.

Bolder still, Congress could atone for the federal legacy of promoting segregation by enacting a law that bans exclusionary zoning—local laws that privilege single-family homes and exclude denser, affordable housing. Congress could also condition federal infrastructure or other spending on measurable local progress in creating affordable housing in high-opportunity areas. Biden has promised to back similar legislation sponsored by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Booker.

Booker and Clyburn also proposed a bill in 2018 that would achieve racial equity in federal spending by applying a formula across all federal programs to ensure targeted spending in census tracts with persistent poverty. Biden backed the bill in his campaign platform. He also proposed to eliminate the $23 billion gap in what America spends on white vs. nonwhite school districts by nearly tripling existing funding for the Title I program for high poverty schools—an infusion that would require increased appropriations from Congress.

Does “systemic racism” really mean we don’t spend enough at the federal level on programs that specifically benefit black people?

But for its constitutional problems I would be tempted to support the banning of “exclusionary zoning” if only for the amusement value of watching Contra Costa County, Westchester County, or towns like Malibu, lily-white places that reliably support progressive causes, dash to get themselves exempted from the provisions. I can only characterize believing that you can equalize the disparity in educational spending of “white vs. nonwhite school districts” by additional federal spending as tremendously naive. State and local spending on K-12 education in 2020 will be around $800 billion—more than ten times present federal spending on education. That’s more than is spent on Medicare or Defense and nearly as much as Social Security. Suffice it to say that you can’t get there by repealing Trump’s personal and corporate income tax cuts. Or, indeed, by taxing the rich unless you stretch your definition of “the rich” to include anyone earning more than $80,000 per year.

I think it is far more likely that hopeful blacks will be disappointed by the Biden Administration’s actions on racial equity just as they were with those of the Obama Administration. It’s like Lucy and the football. As long as blockhead Charlie Brown keeps trusting Lucy to hold the football while he kicks, he shouldn’t be surprised when she pulls it away at the last moment.

I also wonder when people will figure out that studies like the one I linked to yesterday are to systemic racism what the Michelson-Morley experiment was to the ether?

I hasten to point out that whatever my views of “systemic racism” I think that anti-black racism is real and requires policy to remediate it. I have seen it first hand, both 60 years ago and much, much more recently.

11 comments… add one
  • Grey Shambler Link

    IIRC, you’re from St. Louis?
    Then Chicago. Your experience is bound to be different than mine,
    But I just feel that as long as AAs turn to government to solve their woes, they’ll be disappointed. We already have hate crime laws, anti discrimination workplace laws, quotas at universities and federal hiring quotas.
    If the government piles on more of this, true racism against AAs will increase as these are seen as advantages poor whites are denied.

  • Ironically, the dirty little secret of affirmative action is that it serves to employ Caribbean and African blacks preferentially. In other words it doesn’t solve the problem one would presume it is supposed to.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    You see!
    Government can’t do this.

  • Drew Link

    Here in South Carolina, home of the Confederacy, black and white interact seamlessly and remarkably as no big deal. Heh.

    In Chicago, Philly etc. not so much.

    Welcome to convenient myths.

  • walt moffett Link

    Reads like a collection of whats been floating around the op/ed universe for a while.

    FWIW, don’t believe the knout or cornucopia of government will do anything to change hearts and minds. That has to come from within.

  • Steve Link

    Seamless unless you go jogging or go buy skittles. The line about everybody getting along most always comes from white people.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    As long as you are selecting news content that focuses on incidents with Black victims and White or White-Hispanic actors, you’ll never run out of material to prove your thesis.
    Civility, fairness, kindness are predicated by skin color, the darker you are, the most likely you are to be a victim. Lighter, trending towards evil.
    It’s on the news every day.
    If it wasn’t true they wouldn’t say it, would they?

  • steve Link

    Except you cant find examples of white people shot for just jogging or buying skittles. Or examples of law enforcement ignoring such actions until publicized.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    I’m sure you’ve seen the Aubry shooting video, did you not see him circle the pickup, grab the gun by the barrel and fight with the son while his armed father in the bed of the truck held his fire?
    I can’t tell what the crackers here were planning, but Aubry made the first move, as did Trayvon, according to his girlfriend who was on the cell with him. He said he thought Zimmerman was some kind of pervert and would teach him a lesson.
    Everybody involved did dumb things.
    If you want you can certainly remain convinced white is evil and black is good, I’ll keep my eye on both.

  • steve Link

    A couple of guys pull up and point guns at you for no reason and that is not the first move? IF they leave him alone he jogs back home. There is no doubt who initiated this. If Zimmerman does not stalk the guy he takes his skittles and goes home. Nothing happens. It is just bizarre the extremes to which you guys will go to justify killings. (The first part you said is so fuc*ing stupid it is hard to believe anyone would say that. Seriously. If two guys pulled up and pointed guns at someone for no reason, but that guy had a gun and shot and killed the first two he would be a hero. A shining example of Stand your ground. An example of how a gun can be used to protect yourself. But, if you fight back rather than just wait to get shot and dont have a gun it is your fault?)


  • Grey Shambler Link

    Been me, I’d turn around and go the other way.
    They were filming, I’d guess they had some asinine plans for a citizen’s arrest but maybe they wanted to murder a Black jogger and film it in broad daylight.
    And maybe Zimmerman said to himself, looks Black, think I’ll kill him.
    But I don’t live in your head, I look for reasonable explanations for events.
    And I’m not on the jury, there will be a trial.

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