It strikes me over and over again that we confuse the problems of being poor with racism. Dr. Martin Luther King understood the problem isn’t race: it’s economic.
The reason we see a deepening divide, and a growing sense of racial tension, is because more and more middle-class white folks — the factory workers — are being disenfranchised by neo-liberalism. The jobs they used to have — the ones that paid for the snow-mobiles, jet skis and little camps up north — have been shipped overseas. Now, these poor white folks have nothing to do but get hooked on opioids and listen to their proto-fascist leader tell them it’s the government’s fault they don’t have work. And all the while he bloviates, their leader works with the rest of the bourgeoisie to make sure their pockets grow fatter.
These same poor white folks are the ones lighting tiki torches and blaming the black folks for their problems. To fuel the feedback loop, university professors write papers and books about our screwed-up criminal justice system and conclude it is racist cops who are to blame. And in the poorest parts of our cities, children can’t read, or write, yet cling tenaciously to the hope of “becoming somebody” by playing basketball or football. Meanwhile, the rest of us worry about whether our skinny lattes will be warm enough and that the kids won’t be late for soccer practice, and every once in a while, we’ll give a few scraps from our excess to help-out the poor kids in the city.
We would do well to remember why Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol.