This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians.
By Kyle Jacobs
…but that doesn’t mean that the solution is we just “stop being racist”. Things are never that simple. The real problem is that racists have too much power.
When you take your grandpa to the buffet and he makes a rude racial comment, you’ll probably apologize: “He’s just an old man I’m so sorry”, tip a little higher, and go about your day. The greatest grievance to come from all this is maybe a disheartened waiter and some embarrassment on your end. I do not mean to be dismissive of offensive comments made by old men, truly, but no riots or looting will ever ensue from the situation described.
Imagine that you vote that same man into governmental office. Any office would offer him enough power and influence to become a real public threat but for the sake of simplicity, let’s give this man the presidential office. The havoc that he and his administration could wreak is unimaginable. The most obvious solution of all of this is: do not vote for a racist. Again, I wish it were that simple. Racism is usually not so easy to spot though. After all, Grandpa has never said the N-word; he’s laid back and he fly fishes! (If there’s anything that has major voter appeal, its fly fishing.) Adding another step in our hypothetical, let’s assume we all really thought he was a decent guy. But then he got into office. Now he’s using language and signing policy that is negatively affecting minority communities. Is not the solution still obvious? Just vote him out of there next election cycle. Problem solved!
No, problem not solved. And for many, many reasons. For one thing, it is only a matter of time before another closet racist sneaks their way into office. Over a hundred years have passed since slavery’s abolition but despite the continual march of time we are still dealing with it. Maybe one day all of this will be for irrelevant, but I think it’s safe to assume our children and their children will be dealing with racism in some form or another. It is unacceptable to have a system in which a racist can claim the most powerful office in the world, be it every other 8, 12, or 100 years.
Another reason is that by simply just voting him out, we have done nothing to remedy all the pain and harm already caused. To bring some perspective from current events, voting out Donald Trump in 2020 will not bring George Floyd back, it will do nothing for the migrant parents forever separated from their children, nor for the countless others that have been disenfranchised by his administration. The laws and policies created under his guiding hand will likely stay for some time to come. Legislation is hard to pass, and it’s even harder to repeal. The war on drugs has been largely recognized as a failed initiative for some time now. Even worse, it has been used to disproportionately target and incriminate black people. Fifty years ago, Nixon’s plan of “eradication, interdiction, and incarceration” was being sold as a solution to Americas problems. It is still being carried out by law enforcement across the nation today. If Trump manages to finish his wall before his term ends, I’d imagine it will stay standing for a long time if not forever.
The solution I offer to racism may seem radical to some (especially to those who are not familiar with libertarians or their philosophy): we need to strip the government of its power.
We gave the government the power to control what substances we consume. They used that power to target minorities.
We gave the government the power to determine our justice. They used that power to jail a black mother for lying about her address to get her children in a better school district, while at the same time allowing Brock Turner to only serve three months for rape.
We gave them the power to regulate our self-defense. Now black citizens in the most crime-laden cities across the nation are either left defenseless or criminalized (to a great extent) for exercising their constitutional rights.
We gave them the power to regulate our charity. They used that power to create a welfare state that penalizes hard work and dedication to the point that a single black mother loses more by working then she gains.
We gave young men and woman a few months of trainings and then handed them Glocks. We told them “keep the streets safe” and gave them qualified immunity. This has directly led to countless shootings of unarmed black men and women.
I want to drive home this point: unfortunately, racism is still alive today. I pray that given enough time our children will look at that word in their history books and not have the slightest idea of what it means, but for that to happen we need strip powers away from the institutions that prey on racial minorities. A lot of black men and women may feel that a limited government may mean less protection from your fellow man. It is my firm belief that it is not your fellow man that you need protection against. Though recent events have been troubling to say the least, they have sparked a unity between black and white people across not only the country but the entire world. We have been united by a common enemy. It’s an enemy that guises itself in good intention.
While I don’t believe all politicians are corrupt, we cannot afford to give even the righteous one’s power. Because one day, they will be replaced by someone who is corrupt.
It is going to be a long journey before black people can heal from trauma that has already been inflicted. The first step has already been taken: the people have been united. The second step is to stop further harm. I pray that we can find a peaceful means of transitioning to a truly free society. A society in which all men and women are not only created equal, but remain equal in the eyes of the law, regardless of race.