As an organization that welcomes and includes people of all races, religions and ethnic groups, we will challenge and undo ongoing institutional racism that permeates our society at all levels.
Our anti-racist program includes creating an educational system and transforming media and the legal system so that undermining racist ideas and practices becomes one of their central goals. We will provide material support and champion those institutions and social practices that are most successful at fostering respect and caring for previous targets of racism. And we will foster education and public policies that help people understand why racism is counter to their interests and why solidarity with Black and Brown peoples and other groups that have been systematically excluded, marginalized, and targets of violence actually serves their interests and values.
If we want a loving and caring society that truly values the lives of Black and Brown peoples, we need to recognize and come to terms with how our country was founded and the impact of the past policies on the present. We also need to acknowledge and transform present day policies and practices that are discriminatory. The issues addressed in our Path to a World of Love and Justice are all relevant to the issues of institutional and individual racism in our society. Without a fundamental challenge to the economic and political practices of capitalist society there will always be some groups left out or left far behind, and those people will be encouraged to find a scapegoat in some “other,” so it is unlikely that racism can be eliminated without this larger transformation. But, on their own, the policies we’ve suggested in the other parts of our program and even the emergence of a powerful transformative movement aimed at the goals of the New Bottom Line are inadequate to address the harm and trauma with which Black and Brown peoples live.
We are witnessing at this time in history a continuation of the pervasive fear of black bodies and a denial that black lives matter; this is coupled with a rise of white terrorist and hate groups that no political party challenges and the impotence of the news media and police to unveil the existence of underground hate groups that are becoming more visible and vocal. Today, blatant racism and violence, particularly against African Americans, Native Americans and Latin Americans, are manifesting in the form of extrajudicial police violence and killings, a school-to-prison pipeline that has resulted in more African American people in jails than were enslaved in the past in our country, the dumping of toxic waste and chemicals in communities where Black, Brown and low-income and poor people live, unequal educational opportunities beginning before children even start kindergarten, and so much more.
Manifest destiny and American exceptionalism justified the genocide of Native Americans and deadens protest against present racist policies that keep Native Americans on reservations. These principles still inform and drive domestic and foreign U.S. policy resulting in oppression and violence at home and abroad. America’s ruling elite continues to use war to expand territory, to gain access to resources, and to increase its power. The military industrial complex leads to profits for private industry at the expense of the safety and welfare of Black and Brown communities at home and abroad.
Racism, however, is not only a structural problem built into the economic, political, and cultural heritage of our societal institutions, but also a psychological issue. It becomes particularly prominent when large numbers of people are alienated and in pain because they feel “dissed” by the society in which they live. They experience this pain because they buy into the ideology of the competitive marketplace with its insistence that we live in a meritocracy in which we “create our own reality” and hence we have no one to blame for the pain in our lives but ourselves. The resulting painful self-blaming is often dealt with through alcoholism, drug abuse, or other forms of addiction, but the pain remains.
In response to that pain, reactionary movements or leaders come forward and tell people that the reason for their pain is because of some “Other” (primarily African Americans or Latino/a, but also refugees of every sort, Muslims, LGBTQ people, Jews, or even all liberals or progressives). As Tikkun editor-at-large Peter Gabel puts it, racism and other forms of “othering” allow people to develop a “false self” in which they imagine themselves as worthy and powerful through seeing themselves as members of an idealized “white race” that provides them with a substitute sense of worth and value covering over their inner emptiness and sense of valuelessness. Yet because this sense of collective value is what Gabel calls “false” or imaginary, many people feel constantly under attack from an imaginary demonized “other” which in the historic context of the U.S. is African-American people, Latin, Muslims or other refugees who they imagine are “taking over” and trying to recreate their experience of humiliation. To undo this dynamic will take fundamental transformations in the way we organize our society so that people no longer feel humiliated. To move in this direction, we will need millions of people to be trained in empathic communication so they can help others dismantle their inner self-blaming, recognize that their alienation is caused by the values and daily operations of the competitive marketplace, and mobilize people to change that economic system.
Institutional racism is maintained also by the largely unconscious assumption of white supremacy that is internalized by white people in a white dominant society. Overcoming the racism embedded in U.S. educational, legal and other systems requires white people to actively commit to becoming aware of the white supremacy that permeates their lives, exposing it, understanding how it diminishes the humanity of white people, and seeking to undo it. At the same time, we do not wish to participate in a general demeaning of white people in this society or to ignore the ways in which their lives have been negatively impacted by living in a society that uses racism to pit groups against one another. We refuse to perpetuate divisions based on race, class, gender, or ethnicity while recognizing that unity amongst all peoples cannot be fully achieved without dismantling racism. The vision we put forth in our Path to a World of Love and Justice is one that would lift up all peoples. That requires not only a change in consciousness, but also a fundamental transformation of our economic and political systems.
Yet the transformation needed cannot be achieved by attempting to recreate socialist forms that speak to economic equality but miss the deeper transformations in how we relate to each other, to the Earth, and to our own inner development as loving and caring human beings. To address these systemic problems, we believe we need a New Bottom Line as discussed above so that all our institutions are determined “successful” based on whether they prioritize the well-being and needs of the people who live in our country and the world and the planet itself, rather than whether they maximize money and power. And, in addition, we need to engage in specific activities and adopt particular policies that address the problems that constitute or unconsciously perpetuate racism.
Among the steps a loving and caring society will take:
- Reparations for slavery and the past destruction of Native American populations.
A guaranteed income for every adult in this society sufficient to pay for healthy food, housing in healthy living conditions, clothing, energy bills and transportation, and a “living wage” for all working people.
- A Global and Domestic Marshall Plan that re-directs monies from our Gross Domestic Product to communities that have suffered from unfair distribution of resources and wages, including white, black and brown working class people in the U.S. and around the world, and also “undocumented” workers and all migrant laborers who work in our fields, hotels, etc. who have then been deported to their native lands, separating and devastating families.
- Equal funding for all public and private childcare centers, preschools and schools no matter where they are located in the U.S. or the income level of the families that are served by those schools. If wealthier parents are allowed to provide better schooling, better paid teachers, more options for study and for individualized attention at the schools which their children attend, their children will inevitably have greater resources than those who have gone to less funded schools. If parents know that the schools serving the poorest communities set the standards for what their own children will be offered in public and private schools, they will have a stronger incentive to make sure that all schools have these same benefits that are now primarily available to school districts with higher incomes and private schools partially financed by wealthy parents.
Higher level salaries for teachers who teach in communities with lower average incomes than the wealthier communities to ensure that all schools have highly qualified teachers.
- Required courses at every level from 4th grade through college that explain to students the legacy of slavery, discrimination, classism, sexism and homophobia and their ongoing impact on the lives of all of us today. Such courses will teach techniques to address racism, empathic communication, and insights that help in overcoming racism.
- Media must dedicate at least one quarter of their prime time viewing to shows that aim to creatively challenging racist practices, prejudice and biases.
- Create a truth and reconciliation commission to generate a highly visible public tribunal to put our country on a path toward truly facing and healing the legacy of slavery and the treatment and slaughter of Native Americans, and the ongoing discrimination we see today.
- To help ensure that schools become learning environments for all children rather than school-to-prison pipelines for some, we support the adoption of restorative justice as a primary form of response to wrongdoing in schools and in the criminal justice system as a whole.
- Funding for jobs, education, and housing for people being released from prison.
- In recognition that many police departments have unequal policing that results in the loss of liberty and life for black and brown peoples all over this country, every community that has a police force which has faced significant numbers of complaints about systematic abuse or profiling of African Americans or other minority groups must establish a publicly-elected police review commission that has the power to fire both individual police and replace the leadership of that police force, and the ability to impose heavy civil fines or criminally indict police and police leadership for violating the civil rights of people within their jurisdiction.
- Mandatory training for police officers in anti-racism, bias and prejudice and comprehensive screening and vetting of applicants to help ensure that police officers are not racist. Mandatory training in de-escalation and nonviolent responses when conducting stops and arrests.
- Any surveillance equipment that police departments request must be reviewed by a civilian board that includes members of the communities that are and will be impacted. If body cameras are used, any tapes from those cameras must be made available to family and community members when an officer’s actions are in question.
- A wholesale rethinking of policing including demilitarizing of police forces, reducing and eventually eliminating higher levels of surveillance, and creating more transparency, accountability and transformative and restorative policing and justice models.
- Full access, guarantees and protections of the right to vote for all peoples through universal voting registration, automatic voting registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, same-day voter registration, voting day holidays, enfranchisement of formerly and currently incarcerated people, local and state resident voting for all undocumented people, and a ban on any disenfranchisement laws.
- In recognition that poor and disempowered communities often bear the brunt of environmental devastation and destruction, we promote the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, among other things, mandates that all corporations with incomes of greater than $50 million a year have to prove, once every five years, a satisfactory history of environmental and social justice to a jury of ordinary citizens who can hear testimony from people throughout the world who are impacted by that corporations practices.
CONTRAST: LIBERAL AGENDA:
Liberal politicians rarely speak about institutionalized and systemic racism. Instead, liberals tend to blame racism on individual bad apples, failing to acknowledge the legacy of slavery and discrimination that still pervades our schools, housing opportunities, political system, police force, criminal justice system and the like. Or they promise to provide equal opportunity in the capitalist marketplace without acknowledging how the psychic wounds of the past, and the fundamental wealth and income inequalities of the past and present shape what financial base there is to start new businesses, make investments, qualify for loans at low interest rates, provide quality education for their children, or feel safe from arbitrary arrest or even murder from police. To add insult to injury, when liberals reluctantly pay lip service to anti-discriminatory policies and actions, they simultaneously speak about the need for African Americans (and other people of color) to address their shortcomings and faults, blaming them for the struggles they face that are in fact largely a product of the foundation on which our country was founded as well as the ongoing policies and behavior of our police, educators, politicians, media, etc.
CONTRAST: CONSERVATIVE AGENDA:
Conservatives blame the struggles that Black and Brown peoples face as their own shortcomings and completely fail to acknowledge any institutionalized racism in our society. In addition, they actively promote policies that do and would undermine and directly overturn efforts made and laws passed during the Civil Rights era that began to address systemic racism. They also insist that all legacies of the past will magically be healed if the society expands its production and consumption of goods, which they believe will happen by reducing taxes on the wealthy who will then feel impelled to expand their investments in companies that will hire the previously unemployed (ignoring all the times that this approach has failed to significantly change the situation of Black and Brown peoples, but rather has only further enriched the wealthy and deepened the gap between the one percent (1%) of highest income and wealth people and the rest of the population in the US, UK, Israel, and wherever else these policies have been tried).