Thursday, December 24, 2020

the last book I ever read (A Promised Land by Barack Obama, excerpt seventeen)

from A Promised Land by Barack Obama:

Maintaining this social compact, though, required trust. It required that we see ourselves as bound together, if not as a family then at least as a community, each member worthy of concern and able to make claims on the whole. It required us to believe that whatever actions the government might take to help those in need were available to you and people like you; that nobody was gaming the system and that the misfortunes or stumbles or circumstances that caused others to suffer were the ones to which you at some point in your life might fall prey.

Over the years, that trust proved difficult to sustain. In particular, the fault line of race strained it mightily. Accepting that African Americans and other minority groups might need extra help from the government—that their specific hardships could be traced to a brutal history of discrimination rather than immutable characteristics or individual choices—required a level of empathy, of fellow feeling, that many white voters found difficult to muster. Historically, programs designed to help racial minorities, from “forty acres and a mule” to affirmative action, were met with open hostility. Even universal programs that enjoyed broad support—like public education or public sector employment—had a funny way of becoming controversial once Black and brown people were included as beneficiaries.

No comments:

Post a Comment