Hillary Clinton is an astute campaigner. In a Facebook Q&A the other day, she was asked about the Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley at the Netroots Nation conference earlier this month. The inquirer, a Washington Post reporter, asked her the same question those protesters had posed to her rivals: how would she “begin to dismantle structural racism in the United States”?
Her answer was deft:
Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that. We need to acknowledge some hard truths about race and justice in this country, and one of those hard truths is that that racial inequality is not merely a symptom of economic inequality. Black people across America still experience racism every day.
Like any good politician, Clinton knows what her audience wants to hear. She also knows how to put her opponent on the back foot. Because how could Bernie Sanders respond to that? What’s he going to say – racial inequality is merely a symptom of economic inequality? He’s not going to say that. Nobody would.
Well, get ready for a hot take, ladies and gentlemen, because that’s exactly what I’ll say here. Angry responses can be addressed to the Jacobin Facebook page.
Here’s my question to the angry commenters: if racial inequality isn’t merely a symptom of economic inequality, what is it a symptom of?
I already feel like I can hear the answer: it’s a symptom of hundreds of years of slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and urban apartheid.
Yes. But what were slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and urban apartheid if not extreme forms of economic inequality?