As Americans await a fiscal-cliff solution that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon before 2013, Colorlines’ Imara Jones writes that in order to tackle the worst wealth inequity in decades, Americans must call out and defeat systemic white supremacy.
Our collective denial over the fundamental injustice at the heart of our economic system is a result of white supremacy. The words “white supremacy” are radioactive to be sure. It pains me to write them. However, as a trained economist I go where the facts lead me. Since I have written potentially inflammatory words, let me be clear about what I mean.
White supremacy is a low-level assumption about characteristics that white people allegedly have which transforms inequality between them and everyone else into something natural. It often masks itself as fairness and goes unquestioned as a result. Using this definition, our current tax code is a work of white supremacy.
The fact that we’ve arrived at this point on the watch of the country’s first black president is an irony too large to ignore. Mostly victim, partly complicit, Obama is not fully to blame. Yet, economically speaking, the stubborn fact remains that the country is at a moment of racial injustice not seen in more than a generation. In the last four years, that injustice has only expanded and calcified.
White wealth is double what it was 30 years ago. Black and Latino wealth is at its lowest point ever recorded. These inequitable consequences flow directly from political choices embedded in our tax code. But since 1980 when these choices began to be implemented, we’ve talked ourselves out of race and into a mess when it comes to taxes. In fact the frame for our current fiscal debate has clear white supremacist roots.
Read Imara Jones’ entire piece at Colorlines.