In 2019, a Human Rights Watch report found strong evidence of racial bias in policing. Yet it also revealed that a significant share of the disparities are explained by “concentrated policing in high poverty neighborhoods, which are more frequently communities of color.” Its authors gently ask if policing is “a proper response” as opposed to “addressing the problems” in those places with greater resources.
Mr. Mckesson was one of several people I spoke to this week who are close to a fractious class tension that has heightened over the last year: the divide between the slow, hard struggle against poor policing and social injustice in the communities most afflicted by those troubles, and the dizzyingly quick pivot toward antiracism vocabulary and posture in certain white-collar workplaces and industries. (Even the C.I.A.)
Arisha Hatch, the vice president and chief of campaigns at the nonprofit Color Of Change, which consults directly with large private and public institutions about social justice initiatives, called it “the tension between some of the very performative and visible things that happened in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder versus how, or whether, folks have continued to show up and actually make real changes.”
According to the philanthropy-tracking organization Candid, the majority of dollars contributed to racial equity causes in America since 2008 were given within several weeks of Mr. Floyd’s death. That includes Apple, which announced a $100 million “Racial Equity and Justice Initiative” in 2020. But as the Verge has reported, that’s just 0.18 percent of the company’s 2019 profits — or put another way, theoretically, Apple “could have made its entire $100 million back the same day it announced the initiative.”
Color of Change is currently pushing big name companies to take up “racial equity audits, sort of in the same way that companies do environmental impact audits,” Ms. Hatch explained. Publicly disclosing them, she said, could “compromise” the effort as talks are continuing.
Many powerful companies that view themselves as progressive continue to actively lobby against the sort of federal tax increases that are needed, under current budgetary norms, if greater physical and social infrastructure investments are going to be made in underserved communities of color. And those communities are aggressively policed, in part, because many residents are stuck with the stresses and social disorder that scarcity creates and some have to turn to “informal economies” to get by, according to journalists and researchers like Dr. Steven Thrasher, author of “The Viral Underclass: How Racism, Ableism and Capitalism Plague Humans on The Margins.”
The Fortune 500 tier of Corporate America — which recently earned mainstream plaudits when more than 100 chief executives took the step of speaking out against assaults on voting rights — still continues to suppress the wages of their working class employees, who are disproportionately Black, in service of consistently boosting revenues.