[Order David Horowitz’s new book, I Can’t Breathe: How a Racial Hoax is Killing America: HERE.]
The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for A Broken System, edited by Anna Gifty Opoku-Ageyman, a twenty-four-year old graduate student of public policy and economics at Harvard Kennedy School, has as its stated goal that, no matter where you show up on the spectrum of blackness, that the United States owes you something. The contributors are a broad phalanx of scholars and administrators from a multiplicity of fields wrung from public policy, computer science, medical engineering, economics, epidemiology, the Department of Agriculture and environmentalism and climate justice. The book is not a work in scholarship but, rather, short three-to-four-page opinion pieces on a swath of issues that deal with the absence of equity in health between the races, the need to abolish the carceral system and, in the writers’ views, the necessity of examining the disproportionate number of murders of black citizens committed by white police officers versus those against white citizens.
The book is predicated on the notion that the United States has violated its social contract with black Americans and kept their expertise outside the framing narratives that influence public opinion and shape public policy. The book is also a formal accusation against those blacks who are experts and are part of the infrastructure of public discourse. For such individuals who are not affirmatively putting black expertise as one of the valences of their institutions or organization, then they are de facto part of the white counter-response to blackness. Part of the black agenda is a call for black experts to align their economic behaviors with their social and cultural values.
This should tell the reader that the experts here assume a degree of monolithicity among black people; and for those back people who deviate from cultural black norms, then they are complicit in white supremacist policies that render black people economically, socially and existentially inferior to whites.
The book, too, rests on what it takes to be an axiomatic premise: endemic systemic racism that suffuses not only every crevice of every organization and institution; but rapaciously infiltrates the personal sphere of all black lives. Every comorbidity associated with hypertension, obesity, Covid-19, and climate inequities in the black community is traceable to systemic racist policies.
The essays are not exercises in journalistic minutiae. That endeavor would at least give the reader specificities to work and reason with. One cannot emphasize the broad generalities, vague and ill-defined concepts that are thrown around in this book by its contributors as if they were self-explanatory.
For example, without defining what she means exactly, one author writes that in terms of gynecological health, reproductive endocrinology, maternal fetal medicine, and infertility, black and brown women and girls have poorer outcomes than their white counterparts. She writes:
Exposure to gendered racism leads to poor reproductive well-being of women of color, which further narrows the pool of scholars—the exact people most likely to have the greatest influence over said outcomes.
What is meant by gendered racism? No answer is given. But here is a clue. Another author comments:
Racism is part and parcel of Black Americans’ daily lived experiences that extend over a life span. From cradle to grave, racism protects the health status of whites and damages the health status of Black Americans.
With this unassailable truth claim in place, subsequent authors go on to make assertions about the nature of how artificial Intelligence models and their algorithms could be made more accessible by black expertise (this could be true, and would be a good thing, but it would not depend on the mere possession of a racial ascriptive identity), to disparities in police contact.
The last section of the book is worth dwelling on. The authors claim that black men are 2-3 times more likely to be killed by police compared to white men, and claim that because the carceral system does not prevent crime that it should be abolished. They state, without re-visiting recent evidence, that George Floyd died directly because of Derek Chauvin’s knee being placed on his neck. They lament the fact that there are more black people in jail than white people and regard this as a moral crime
I agree that it is a moral crime. It is a moral crime for the simple fact that black communities across America at large are simply more criminogenic than white communities.
Here it will be interesting to visit some indisputable facts from David Horowitz’s latest book, I Can’t Breathe.
Every year, more than 10 million arrests are made by police departments nationally. In 2019, 14 unarmed blacks and 25 unarmed whites were killed by police. A 2001 Justice Department report stated that “when a white officer kills a felon, that felon is usually a white…and when a black officer kills a felon that felon is usually a black.” Nothing has changed in the years since then, the report states.
Horowitz’s book shows that autopsy reports reveal that George Floyd could not breathe at the time of his containment by police because of the lethal dose of fentanyl that he had voluntarily ingested into his system.
A 2011 Bureau of Justice Statistics study showed that of all suspects killed by police from 2003 to 2009, 41.7 percent were white, and 31.7 percent were black. In this period, blacks accounted for 38.5 percent of all arrests for violent crimes—that is, the type of crime most likely to trigger potentially deadly confrontation with police.
Horowitz further points out that the evidence that police do not shoot and kill African Americans in disproportionately high numbers has grown stronger. In 2017, blacks were arrested for 37.5 percent of all violent felonies, but were just 24.7 percent of people killed by police. Corresponding figures in 2018 were 37.4 percent and 26.4 percent. In 2019, the numbers were 36.4 percent and 29.3 percent.
If we look at the raw numbers of fatal shootings by police in recent years, we find that more whites than blacks are killed by police every single year, without exception. In some years whites account for twice as many victims of police shootings as blacks… while blacks make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they commit nearly 40 percent of all violent crimes and more than half of all murders, statistics which would predict a significantly higher rate of police shootings of blacks than we actually see.
But the call to abolish the police and carceral system, which the authors demand at the end of the book, has an inverted moral logic to it. If the moral contract between the United States and black people in America has been irredeemably broken, and if racism permeates black peoples’ lives from cradle to death every day, and further, if citizens are likely to be harassed by police officers in their lifetime—then the only solution as mandated in the final chapter is: Reparations and an Economic Bill of Rights for black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. The book is both nihilistic and a moral call for socialism.
To end law enforcement, that branch of government that protects our individual and inalienable rights, and further, to end the prison system, which removes from society those who pose a threat to our bodily integrity and well-being, is to promote systemic nihilism and unending chaos.
Reparations, the allocation of funds to descendants of slaves which, by all sundry estimates, would cost the country around fourteen trillion dollars, is a rapacious and expansionist doctrine. It is a stealth move towards expanding the welfare state under the guise of a moral doctrine. It trades on white guilt and profits from every conceivable form of black suffering that is allegedly reducible to the residual effects of slavery.
Reparations have already been paid to blacks beginning with the Second Founding of our republic: The Civil War and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The war to free black slaves is unarguably a reparative moment in this county’s history. The Third Founding in this country was the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, coupled with the 1965 Voting Rights Acts and The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (Public Law 92-261) of 1972, and the subsequent affirmative action programs that followed. Racism was made illegal, and whites were no longer free to use and dispose of their property as they saw fit. The state, in effect, enacted a moral eugenics program such we have never seen by changing the sensibilities of racist whites. The agenda was to turn them into non-racists.
There is only so far that a free country can go in making reparative gestures towards any previously disenfranchised groups before it irrevocably trespasses on the individual rights of others.
One thinks here of Leon Trotsky’s The Permanent Revolution. There is no end in sight for these black radicals whose goal is a revolution, for there is no solution that can ever solve a problem that is intractable except the destruction of everyone’s rights and the confiscation of everyone’s property. This is the goal of all equity movements masquerading as humanitarianism and justice. They do not want to destroy the American spirit—they want to fracture it. Then with little resolve to fight for the rights of man, when we are weakened and broken, they, with their bold solutions will have crafted a new political DNA and shaped and fashioned not a new spirit, but a ghoulish and expropriative soul that will be the new America.
It is not too late to resist it.
Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago specializing in ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy, and moral psychology. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. Dr. Hill is the author of five books, including “What Do White Americans Owe Black People: Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression.” Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.