Despite the work of civil rights leaders, there obviously still remains disparities between the various races of the United States. According to Pew Research Center, whites continue to constitute the vast majority of people residing in the suburbs at 68%, whereas in urban areas whites only constitute 44%. This clearly suggests an imbalance, one that is apparent when you look at living areas for other races. Is there something more we can do about it? Liberals and conservatives have pushed for policy measures that both benefit minorities and harm them.
Liberals believe that we can somehow force progress, and force further integration that has not happened since the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, nor since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet, at the same time, the liberal continues to erect barriers that would permit the minority to more easily live the life she wants. The liberal prevents parents from putting their children in the best possible schools. The liberal passes restrictions on housing that contribute to lower supply of homes and rental apartments, and thus lead to increasingly higher housing prices and rents, which has led to disproportionate homelessness of minorities. The fact that liberals have dominated inner city politics for quite awhile with little progress among minorities (if not regression) to demonstrate is proof enough that their policies have failed.
While liberals fail minorities at the state and local level, conservatives do so as well at the national level. The conservative seems to ignore any signs of discrimination that so obviously persist within our government. These “law and order” conservatives ignore the clear racial discrimination of the war on drugs, and promotes policy that leads to the arrest of the man who sells illicit substances just so he can pay his bills. Then, when he finally finishes his sentence, he finds that he cannot find a legal job because of his felony record, and so must resort once again to black market means to get by.
How do we rectify the apparent racial inequality that exists? How do we finally achieve the equality we hoped Brown would promote? The liberal would have us force socio-economic integration, through policies that “compensate” for past discrimination. This kind of integration is a farce, for it does not occur naturally, and has negative effects on those groups who supposedly benefit from such integration. Take, for example, the story of Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama, a graduate of Princeton University, has detailed in her book Becoming her experience at the university, where she felt “the shadow of affirmative action” constantly. “You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, ‘I know why you’re here.” It should be noted that Mrs. Obama did, in all likelihood, not get admitted into the university due to affirmative action, which suggests even broader negative impacts than those solely on beneficiaries. In fact, as social psychologist John Haidt points out, this kind of special treatment leads to increased stereotyping, and greater acknowledgement of (racial) group differences. In other words, the aid given to blacks (and non-Asian minorities in general) in college admissions leads those who do not benefit from such aid (namely whites and asians) to view these groups as less worthy, or, to put it frankly, simply not as smart as themselves, perpetuating the group identity problem affirmative action was meant to rectify. This extends even to those who did not actually benefit from affirmative action (such as Mrs. Obama). Racial integration by intent is not the way to promote true racial integration and equality. (This is not to ignore other problems with affirmative action, but they simply aren’t related to my point).
If we want to achieve true socio-economic integration of all races, we must remove government impediments that so egregiously inhibit minorities from prospering. This means we must end the drug war, allow competition in education by permitting parents to choose where to send their kids, reform our criminal justice system by reducing punishments for nonviolent offenses, lessen housing restrictions, among other things. Conservatives, rightly, have been pushing for school choice for a while, and have also begun to come around on criminal justice reform and ending the war on marijuana. Liberals, on the other hand, have generally pushed for criminal justice reform for a while, but have held fast to the ridiculous idea that we only need increased education funding to improve outcomes. (Even the Huffington Post admitted this) For the sake of sticking to the main point, I will leave specific education policy discussion for another post. Suffice it to say, we have not taken the appropriate measures that would allow minorities to lift themselves out of poverty.
This is the key, in my view, to achieve true racial integration. No, it will not come as soon as these policies based in liberty are enacted. True racial integration will still take time. However, the promotion of policies that promote the liberty of minorities is the only way to push our society in the direction of true racial integration.