“. . . . But where it matters most, Congress has yet again missed the moment. The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would institute carefully calibrated reforms, but it was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate. After perfunctory lip service and failure to pass a pale substitute for the House bill, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, seems eager to move on. Meanwhile, he refuses to allow Senate consideration of a new Voting Rights Act or of funding to ensure safe voting during a raging pandemic, knowing that communities of color are suffering disproportionately from the coronavirus.
And predictably, President Trump has doubled down on his platform of divisiveness and blatant bigotry. Almost daily, Mr. Trump throws racist red meat to his base, hoping it will boost his sagging poll numbers. He has called peaceful protesters “thugs” and threatened Bull Connor-style tactics — the use of “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”
Mr. Trump retweets videos of supporters screaming “white power” and white citizens who brandish guns at peaceful marchers. He parrots misleadingly that more white people than Black people are killed by the police. Mr. Trump sends federal forces to guard monuments and terrorize protesters, pledges to block the renaming of U.S. military bases that commemorate Confederate generals and dismisses flying the Confederate flag as an act of “free speech.”
Against this backdrop of half-measures and outright hostility, it’s easy to envision that the momentum for progress on racial justice will soon be squandered. But it needn’t be.
To redress systemic racism, America needs to create the conditions for systemic reform.
Transformational change would entail a new opportunity agenda that confronts the root causes of structural racism. The federal government, working with the private sector and nongovernmental organizations, should invest sustained attention, creativity and sufficient resources in broad-based initiatives to address the stark, stubborn inequalities that permeate not only the criminal justice system but also education, economic opportunity, health care, housing and environmental quality.
In each sector, the remedies must be comprehensive. In education, for instance, we should invest in the full spectrum of learning — starting with universal prekindergarten, competitive teacher salaries and reliable broadband in both rural and urban digital deserts.
To expand access to postsecondary education, it’s time to provide no-debt access to community colleges, scale up apprenticeships and Pell Grants, and make tuition free at public universities for all families earning under $125,000 annually.”