By Contributor on March 29, 2012

By Bill Fletcher Jr.

As the Trayvon Martin case illustrates, we still have a hard time dealing with issues of race in this country. In the years ahead, the issue of racial injustice, coupled with economic injustice, is not likely to fade away.

The Census Bureau estimates that by 2042, the population will no longer be majority white. Many believe that this demographic shift will automatically bring with it a qualitative improvement in the situation for people of color.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is a segment of white America that deeply fears the demographic changes and sees in them a threat to its status. Such fears lead some of these people to gravitate towards right-wing populism.

But the demographic changes are not expected to bring about any significant improvements for most people of color, particularly African-Americans and Latinos, according to a new study, “State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority,” by the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy (available at www.faireconomy.org/dream).

If current trends continue, we will witness widening gaps in income and wealth, as well as in education and incarceration rates. The study predicts, for instance, that African-Americans will make 61 cents and Latinos will make 45 cents for every dollar whites make in terms of median family income.

Contrary to right-wing populists’ "dystopia for whites," the report paints a picture of a reconfigured Jim Crow — almost an apartheid situation of haves and have-nots.

Most whites won’t be benefiting, either. The overall living standard of most of this country, which began to decline in the mid-1970s, will continue to decline. The fates of poor and middle-class whites will be much more connected to those of people of color than to the very rich and largely white ruling elite.

The implications of this report are sobering — even frightening.

We need concerted political and economic action in the days and months and years ahead if we are to conquer our racial and economic disparities.

That means not just continuing affirmative action. It also means launching policies of redistributive justice.

Let’s face it: Those at the top have been redistributing income and wealth their way over the past three decades. If we don’t implement policies that redistribute income and wealth to the vast majority of Americans who need it, our country will become increasingly – and dangerously – divided.

Bill Fletcher Jr. is a longtime racial justice, labor and international activist and writer. He is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of ”Solidarity Divided.” He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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