The Unanswered Question
Today is February 1st, the first day of Black History Month. As a Black writer and blogger, I felt it important that today of all days, I write something pertaining to the Black condition. Maybe something about where we, as a people, have come from or where I believe we’re going. Perhaps a review of my favorite piece of Black art or recommendations to my favorite Black-owned restaurant. Instead, I feel like I should just write. So, today, this entry is going to be kinda rant-like.
I only kinda apologize in advance.
As I was getting the computer out to type this all out, I was reminded of the ‘Unanswered Question’. For those that may not have read it, I had a blog entry [click here for that blog] where I answered some questions that were provided by my friends from Facebook. I answered all of the questions to the best of my ability with the exception of one. The one question was, “If you were elected President, what policies would you put in place to aid in healing the racial divide in America?” and I think I kinda know my answer.
First, to address the reason I didn’t answer it before. I didn’t answer this one in the previous blog because, as I said then, I believe it deserves an entry all its own. This is that entry. I felt at the time and I feel now that the subject is far too important to mix with other tidbits. The weight of this conversation needs to be felt.
Secondly, I want to address why this has taken me so long and why this is going to be rant-like. I’ve been thinking about this question for months and I originally wanted to sit and think and research this and that, but when it came down to it, I knew that what I wanted to say had to just come from the heart.
You see, the role of the President, in my personal opinion, isn’t to enact policies to heal the racial divide. As we are seeing today with President Joe Biden making it clear that he wants to make the next Supreme Court Justice a [worthy and qualified] Black woman when you use the office to make change using race in any caliber, you come across as pandering, which in turn feels ingenuine. Do I believe that President Biden has the right intention? Probably. It’s also hard to say, considering his history, that it’s unlikely that someone has his ear reminding him of perception and how looking supportive to Black voters is important for re-election. [Sidenote: It’s only fair that I say that I understand the importance of Black representation in all venues. I’m thankful that, regardless as to why exactly, a woman that looks like my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, or even my daughters, could sit in one of those seats at that hallowed bench.]
So, Aaron, what would I do as President, starting on the day after I won the election? First, as I mentioned briefly, representation is SO important. I’d start by looking over all the qualified candidates and attempt to appoint a knowledgeable and diverse Executive Branch. This doesn’t mean that it would be all-POC (person/people of color, for those that may not know, and yes, that means all non-Whites including Native American, Indian, African-American, Latinx, etc), but I would seek to make my Cabinet “look like America”. I’d want my Cabinet to foster an environment that actively promotes different people with different backgrounds and beliefs working together, in harmony, towards a common goal.
Now that I’m setting an example with my Cabinet, it’s time to go out to the People and make my expectation of unity loud and clear. My Inauguration Day speech would be a message of hope and faith in the people of America and its future. I was telling my daughter just the other day that when you look at a situation that looks bad, you have to believe that “It will be okay”. If you don’t, then you’ve already reserved in your mind and your heart that it’s over and you’ve failed and soon thereafter it will be over and you would have failed. If you believe that I will be okay, you are acknowledging that you may not know exactly when or how things will improve, but things WILL improve. That bit of hope keeps us in the game. And as it says in Hamilton, “When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you don’t get to win unless you play in the game.”
Right now, in 2022, I don’t think everyone is ‘playing in the game’, at least, not the same game. The divide within the populous surrounds everyone playing different games, but wanting the same prize. Sadly, no one even knows what the prize really is, what the prize is worth, or even if the prize is worth having. Even worse than this, people seem to be equally confused about the prize the other people are playing for and how others’ game impacts their game. This is further complicated when the people playing the same game together aren’t sure of the game they’re playing. Bottom line: There’s a lot of misinformation and that leads to confusion, confusion leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to anarchy.
To combat this, I think I would task the Congress to go to their home states and put on a series of town halls, all locally televised and all available online, giving the people a chance to not only speak their minds but hear the answers. I would also do a series of them, preferably at least one in each state, nationally televised.
As for the obvious sources of misinformation in the media, there would have to be a standard set and consequences. All information would have to be verifiable and credible or labeled as opinion. This isn’t censorship, to be clear, but it’s accountability. We have to acknowledge the impact of our public words, like with Joe Rogan and his show. Until now, he’s lacked accountability. Now, he’s being held to his content.
Media accountability, listening to the concerns of the people by being present and setting an example of unity with my Cabinet. What’s next? Education.
There is nothing more important than education and this is a slightly complicated fix. First things first, I want there to be a National Curriculum. With this, a high school graduate in California will enter the working world with the same knowledge as a high school graduate in Florida. Washington grads will know the same as graduates from Maine and everywhere in between. By holding every American student to the same standard, we will foster educational equality. The standard will be high and students and teachers will be held accountable. Reading, writing, math, and science will be top priorities.
Social Sciences will be important as well, ensuring that students are taught an HONEST AND ACCURATE account of the world and national history with funding provided for field trips to, not only the nation’s capital but to locally historic destinations like their state capital and monuments. Students will be taught about other cultures to better accept people who think, live, and believe differently than themselves.
Honest and accurate history, for clarity, means that the dark history of this country will be taught in a fair and balanced way. We, as a nation, can no longer sit back and sugar-coat or White-wash our history so as to not make one group feel bad. Things happened. I can’t change it any more than anyone else can. No one should feel guilty for the past, they should just be aware of the present and prepared for the future. Once things are out in the open and people stop denying known historical facts, we can work on healing.
Beyond these topics, classes that teach about credit, taxes, personal finances, retirement investment, and proper health and nutrition will all be required to graduate. We need to better prepare our students to be better citizens and teach them the basic skills to manage their lives once they’re on their own.
To improve education, in my opinion, we need to find a new way of funding our local schools. It is my understanding that we are funding schools with area property taxes. This gives a greater advantage to students in more affluent neighborhoods and thus an imbalance in resources even amongst students in the same district. Whether we pool the property taxes to be evenly distributed across the district or find some other even way to fund schools, either of the local, state, or federal level, there has to be, within any given state, a fair way of funding.
Edtrust.org is a nonprofit “that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families.” You can look at their website to see important information from your state.
Another piece of this education puzzle is finding, training, and retaining motivated and qualified teachers. There’s no other way to slice it - we have to pay our teachers more. We need to ensure proper benefits for teachers and their families. There is no excuse that there should be a qualified teacher forced to work a second job to make ends meet anymore than there should ever be a homeless veteran. These men and women literally hold the future of our nation in their hands. Supporting teachers' unions is a must. Period.
The last piece of this puzzle involves the student’s home life. There has to be a positive environment that allows education to grow. For the last few days, reports of students bringing weapons into school have occupied the evening news. I have been on the news locally discussing the topic and it’s just upsetting as a father that this is a daily concern. What is going on at home that is leading to this behavior? What is going on in the neighborhoods and online that is creating the perceived necessity to illegally carry a gun or knife to school?
This is not the typical “blame the parents” argument. I don’t blame the parents at all. Instead, I blame the circumstances that lead to income inequality, social influences, situational circumstances that produce single-income homes. These homes, in my experience, create environments where students don’t get the at-home focus, be it on their studies or them personally, that would curb the negative behaviors that result in weapons violence and gang membership. Pushes for better wages and more local support organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother/Big Sister can fill in the missing gaps left behind by busy parents.
Adulting is hard and parenting is harder. Needing help isn’t a bad thing and if the government can aid somehow, they should.
Okay, so now we can check education off the list of issues. What’s the next thing to address? I guess employment opportunities.
I already mentioned better wages and better education. This should make getting a job easier for minorities, right? Not exactly. It makes KEEPING the job easier but not GETTING the job. There are still, to this day, issues with job applicants being discriminated against based on “Black sounding names”. We see that Tyrone and Tyler, despite having the same qualifications, don’t get interview callbacks at the same rate. This bias exists in matters of age, gender, and class as well. There have been several studies done on this topic and it’s easily researchable. Discrimination in hiring can keep highly qualified people from getting jobs with improved wages and benefits. I would have to task the Dept. of Labor to find a way to mitigate this in hiring.
Some places have turned to computer programs for application reviews, but there have been studies showing that these programs and many like them have biases in their programming which lead to even higher rates of discrimination, this time with no one to blame.
Law Enforcement is next and, to be honest, more has been said in the last two years than ever before so there isn’t much to add. Note that “Defund the Police '' only means to demilitarize the police department and reallocate the money to other departments that can better address the underlying problems of that community. Many of these programs would in themselves aid in the reduction of crime and criminal behaviors, minimizing the number of responses from PD. I’m also of the persuasion that we need more POC from low-income/high crime areas to apply for the police force. This may not sit well with many, but who better to police a neighborhood than someone from the neighborhood. We also need more programs where the local PD is actively involved with the schools and neighborhoods to have a better-perceived presence. Cops need better hand-to-hand combat training and de-escalation training along with a greater willingness to use such training.
I can remember when I was a kid, it was assumed that an officer had no problem putting themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect a community. That’s kinda what they are there to do, however, with the other noted changes I’d make, this should be less and less of an issue.
Sitting here I can’t think of any other factors that would need to be addressed. Aaron, I hope this answers your question. If not, or if anyone else would like to further the conversation, commenting here or emailing me at DLHearnWrites@gmail.com is always an option.
Maybe it’ll lead to a part two… or something else…
- (President) Moon