They face racism daily. It is built into conditions of discriminatory poverty – no jobs or low-paid jobs, or unprotected work that is too often dangerous in nature. As tenants, many African Americans are defenseless against evictions and landlord safety code violations. As ripped off borrowers (payday loan rackets) defrauded consumers (the poor pay more for less), are grossly under-served by a wide array of public services, such as health care, crumbling schools, and inadequate mass transit where they experience on-going discrimination. They are arrested and imprisoned more often for similar offenses committed by white people. Then there is the obstruction or suppression of their voting rights in Republican states. They face public harassment and targeted racism while walking, jogging, or driving. Add it all up and their suppressed pain, despair, dread, fury, and fear for their children can’t be ignored anymore.
No matter how many books, articles, documentaries expose this aggregate life under “The New Jim Crow,” little changes. Even concerned politicians routinely break their promises to communities of color.
How then can this current moral force avoid dissipation once the media loses interest and the protesters become exhausted? How can such widely praised demonstrations produce real change?
Seize the movement. Immediately secure funding from enlightened or guilt-ridden wealthy residents of these cities to form full-time citizen watchdog groups leveraging the reforms demanded by the protesters. Some permanent presence must be established to thwart the status quo ante. That’s what seizing the moment means.