As Jobs Vanish, Where Are Blacks Left?
A luminary-packed panel gathered by Henry Louis Gates Jr. shared insights in Martha's Vineyard.
Simon galvanized the conversation with what he admitted to be a darker, more "draconian" view of the problem, drawn on years of experience as a Baltimore Sun reporter. "Joblessness is here to stay unless we rebel because there's no economic incentive to get rid of it," Simon said. In his view, those who control the capital in this country would rather monetize the poor by making money off of their incarceration via the war on drugs than investing in educating the poor so that they can get jobs. "Until we accept the fact that there is no economic incentive to do all these worthy things -- it's right to value every eighth-grader, but there's no money in it, and there's no profit in it. And until we rebel against the notion of that metric [of profitability], it's over, and the cost is going to be our republic."
So what can we all do to bring about change? For all of the panelists, it came down to accountability -- both collective and individual. If ever asked to serve on a jury for a drug-related offense, think hard about the conditions that led to that trial, advised Simon.
Fryer suggested visiting a low-performing school to understand the conditions that are leading to our children's under-education.
Said Rice: Don't forget to hold your elected officials accountable for the policies they vote into law.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is managing editor of The Root.