OVERCOMING RACIAL AND GENDER INJUSTICE
We cannot achieve racial justice without addressing deeply rooted, historical conditions that have impoverished and disenfranchised black people in this state and this country, excluding so many from opportunity and economic independence. The triumphs of the Civil Rights movement have not lifted the social disadvantage that keeps the boot of history on our backs. We need to overcome black generational poverty, the racial income and wealth gap, and the singular pressures put on black women and other women of color. We need to admit that our party has taken black Americans’ vote for granted without offering adequate solutions in return, and recognize and remedy how our government has exploited black communities through laws that reinforce inequity.
That’s just to start.
We cannot be free until we reverse the damage. Nor can our democracy be genuine when it rests upon entrenched racial disadvantage that undermines the social equal opportunity on which self-government depends. This is why I support the renewal of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign to fulfill our neglected social rights, and why I believe we must elect leaders who will enforce equal opportunity for people of different races, origins, genders (or non-), sexual orientations, religions, and economic position.
We can no longer allow the elected officials we trust to ignore systemic injustices, especially when so many keep racial deprivation, voter suppression, and discrimination in place. We have to change the way we think about poverty, about race, about labor, and about gender parity in this country. When establishment politicians say they are fighting for our “democratic values,” they are sidestepping questions like, “how do we ensure that poor black people aren’t poor in 20 years?” When politicians promise to prioritize the middle class, they are telling us that we must accept that a lower class continues to live in poverty. When politicians make 3-4% unemployment their economic goal and call that "full employment," they are telling us that they do not care about the millions of Americans who are without jobs, nor the millions more who are underemployed and overemployed (working multiple jobs at poverty wages.) They are telling us, in each of these instances, that eliminating racial inequality is not a priority.
Central to Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign - which was championed by the likes of Bayard Rustin and Bobby Kennedy - was an Economic Bill of Rights. This was, and is, a necessity for upholding family welfare, forging a just society, and unchaining our democracy from impediments to genuine self-government.
In the words of Dr. King: "We are coming to demand that the government address itself to the problem of poverty. We read one day: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But if a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists."
Our failure to overcome racial disadvantage has left the integrity of our nation in question. By not fulfilling our social rights and achieving genuine equal opportunity, we have intensified economic insecurity and inequality to such a degree as to endanger the very existence of government by, for, and of the people. We must act now, before it is too late, and forge a new birth of freedom.
Women remain disadvantaged with respect to income, wealth, and social and political power despite women's suffrage, fifty years of equal pay for equal work legislation, and application of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to gender (thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's pioneering litigation). What has left gender disadvantage entrenched is our failure to fulfill our social rights.
Women remain overrepresented in fields of work in which all employees are underpaid and disempowered. To lift this systemic disadvantage, we must enact a Federal Job Guarantee, which provides economic independence to all who are able to work, and supplement it with measures to empower employees. By eliminating unemployment and establishing a fair minimum wage keeping pace with inflation and productivity gains, we can ensure that no woman works for poverty wages. Although full employment provides the tightest labor market, allowing employees to fight most effectively for their rights, only by extending unionization to all enterprises with multiple employees and securing employee representation on corporate boards can women succeed in eliminating the fortification of the gender pay gap in low paid occupations disproportionately filled by women.
More must be done, however, to enable women to achieve equal opportunity in the economy and in politics without family entanglements blocking their advancement. We must enact paid family leave, including at least nine month paid parental leave when a child comes into the world. To lift the burden of child care and elder care that disproportionately falls upon women, we must enact free public child and elder care, as well as provide $900 monthly child allowances, so that all women can, if they choose, pursue their careers and achieve leadership positions on a par with men, without detriment to care for their families.
Of course, women's health needs must be completely covered by a single payer public health insurance plan, providing free contraceptives, day after pills, prenatal screeening, and abortions, which will be reduced to the humanly possible minimum thanks to the above measures.
Finally, women must be fully empowered to uphold all their rights in the courts with a Legal Care for All public insurance plan, which fully pays for legal advice and representation in all personal criminal and civil cases. Then, every woman will have the resources to defend herself against sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and any other legal concern on which her opportunity depends.