Opinion: The Marvels That Ending Systemic Racism Will Achieve

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The New York Times has published an important article that measures the economic gains that could be achieved if anti-black discrimination were ended. In “Racism Impoverishes the Whole Economy,” Professor Lisa D. Cook of Michigan State University writes that “new research” finds that “discrimination inflicts a staggering cost on the entire economy, reducing the wealth and income of millions of people.”

Prof. Cook says that if American blacks were not held back by personal and institutional racism, their contributions would match those of whites. They would take out countless patents, start high-tech companies, invent new medical procedures, and rejuvenate every field. Prof. Cook calculates that this would have added an additional $16 trillion worth of GDP since 2000. Americans of all races would benefit if the tremendous talents of 40 million black people — now repressed — were allowed to flower.

Prof. Cook’s analysis is an encouraging beginning, but it is too narrow. Racism hurts us, not only because it prevents African-Americans from fulfilling their potential but because it channels them in tragic directions. Driven by the forces of racism, black Americans commit more than half of all murders and robberies, for a rate 7.5 times that of whites.

In New York City, blacks are 30 times more likely than whites to be arrested for murder and nearly 100 times more likely to be arrested for “shootings,” in which a victim is hit but not killed by gunfire. In an equitable society, these crimes would virtually disappear, and thousands of families would be spared the deaths and devastation that are the legacy of racism. Across the country, prisons would empty, and reductions in crime would persuade even conservatives to support defunding the police.

Prof. Cook also failed to note that racism has terrible health consequences, especially for black women, our most vulnerable and marginalized population. They are 60 percent more likely than white women to be obese, twice as likely to be diabetic56 percent more likely to have high blood pressure6.9 times more likely to have gonorrhea, and 4.7 times more likely to have syphilis. They are twice as likely as white women to become single mothers, and single mothers are twice as likely as married women to die from childbirth-related complications. Freed from the daily struggle against bigotry, black women would make healthful life choices that would benefit themselves and their families, and would slash medical costs.

Prof. Cook should also expand her vision of an equitable future to include our neighbors. Haiti, practically on our doorstep, suffers from the global equivalent of the institutional racism that oppresses African-Americans. As we assume leadership in the campaign for equity, we must broaden the scope of disciplines such as critical race theory so as better to understand the malign forces that prevent the people of Haiti from fulfilling their historic potential as the second Western-Hemisphere nation — after the United States — to free itself from colonial rule.

Research in this area must be conducted by institutions such as the newly founded Boston University Center for Antiracism Research. Under the pioneering leadership of Ibram X. Kendi, it is already discovering how color-blind policies and even the best-intentioned whites nevertheless crush the potential of African-Americans. Unfortunately, the center’s mission statement is too narrowly American: “We are working toward building an antiracist society that ensures equity and justice for all.”

The same insights that will free African-Americans from the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow must be adapted to the world, with the liberation of Africa as our primary goal. Once we have defeated the malevolent systems that hold back both Africa and African-Americans, what racists once called “the dark continent” will lead the world. This graph from the Hoover Institution, is a projection of the sizes of national and regional workforces.

Beginning in 2040, sub-Saharan Africa (the blue line) will be the world’s largest pool of human talent. By the end of the century, it will be greater than all the rest combined. Dismantling systemic obstacles to the full flowering of African genius is therefore one of the crucial tasks of the decades ahead.

Joe Biden has said that “rooting out systemic racism” is “the moral obligation of our time.” Of course, he is right, and now that we can put the nightmare of “American First” behind us, he should understand the incalculable potential of putting Africa first. The future of our species could depend on it.

Professor Lisa Cook, who wrote the Times article, is a member of Joe Biden’s transition team. It is heartening to know that the new administration will be guided by such people, but I urge her and her colleagues to lift their eyes above economics and beyond our borders to unleash global forces for good that have been held in check for centuries. Progressives must never be guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

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2 thoughts on “Opinion: The Marvels That Ending Systemic Racism Will Achieve”

  1. Systemic racism is a myth. If any minority is discriminated against because of their race there are both criminal and civil actions that can be brought to court. There is no such thing as “White privilege”. Dennis Prager has pointed out that there is “two parent privilege”. Race doesn’t matter. A child growing up with two parents has a much greater statistical chance of succeeding in school and life, while having a much lesser chance of failing in school, committing crimes, abusing alcohol and/or drugs, having successful relationships with others. One parent children commit suicide at a much greater number.
    If one doesn’t take responsibility for one’s own life and blames things like “systemic racism” for his or her failures, they will always fail because they will not learn from their mistakes. This is because they don’t think the mistakes are theirs.

  2. Some years back I was watching a panel discussion on television and I don’t remember the specific topic or the names of the panelists but the comments of one of the panelist did strike me as being particularly profound. This panelist was an Indian-American (Indian as in from the subcontinent, not native American).

    He pointed out that many recent immigrants to this country have worked hard and have carved out successful lives here through sweat and sacrifice while many Black Americans have roots here that go back generations and who are addicted to welfare and “free stuff”. He said that these Blacks are stuck in poverty because they are waiting. What are they waiting for? They are waiting for something called “the gub’mint” to take care of them. They have been told over and over again by the democrats and their allies that they are oppressed and mistreated by a racist America and that they “deserve” to be compensated and financially supported by the government. As a result of being brainwashed by the democrats, many of these Black Americans continue to sit on their butts while they grumble and bemoan how they have been mistreated by a “racist America.”

    America is the land of opportunity yet the democrats strive to keep Black Americans on the plantation with the democrat politicians as their overseers by keeping them dependent on government (democrat) handouts and reinforcing the myth that Black Americans are victims of something called “systemic racism.” Black Americans are victims; they are victims of the self-serving, deceptive, and dishonest propaganda of the democrat party.

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