Many try to understand the political landscape of an ever changing and perpetually evolving globalized world. In this process of understanding how and why people of color are systemically entrenched in poverty, it becomes crucial to comprehend the context in which policy formulation takes place. A class-based approach to the political process is needed to form a radical politics of resisting a system that oppresses black youth and demoralizes black and brown communities. Through the lens of class and more importantly capitalism, one is able to understand how it is the root to many barriers when it comes to passing progressive policy.
It is necessary to think dialectically when seeking to fully understand the nuances of a polity, however, specifically delving into a neo-Marxist focal point to describe on how “the man” furthers the oppression of black youth through an institutional design. The “man” is a euphemism for those in power, AKA those who marginalize the poor, marginalize the under-privileged, and marginalize the survivors of multiple forms of violence.
Those in power (the government, large business, various interests groups) react and interact in a multitude of ways that elicits the creation policies, iteratively produce mechanism that uphold capitalism, regardless if peoples livelihoods, health, education, or welfare are at stake. Even when those oppressed groups organize on the ground, the government has the potential to pass policy that is beneficial to the general populous, however, before they start to care about people as a whole, they make sure the policies will benefit the economy. This is an idea that I would call “On Their Terms.” When looking at various policies throughout history that have been brought about by grassroots organizing and mobilization, it is far too common to see the government offer some form of concession which leads to social benefits for the larger society. These benefits, which are created through policy, range from unemployment insurance, social security, and even to healthcare reform. HOWEVER, The small concessions may help some, but we need to build a movement that no longer allows the government to put capitalism values above the values of human dignity, safety, health, and the list goes on. In other words, the idea that most legislation is created on the terms of capitalism results in system of social policies that only help people, if it can first and foremost further a capitalism in a system that puts the bottom line before human lives.
Why do we think the President has to fight (at the State of the Union) for congress to even make a vote on the issue of gun control? Because the NRA and large business is intertwined in the policy making process, where they have so many legislators rapped around their campaign financing fingers, that law makers will not even allow the issue to be voted on. All the while black and brown youth die in droves and the nation becomes desensitized to the stories similar to Hadiya Pendletons. We are desperately in need of some form of national awareness that doesn’t just put out fires like violence, guns, poverty, but provides an awareness that attacks to root of the fire: which is government continuing to make policy on capitalistic terms.
I want to offer a quick example of this “on their terms” idea, in the more recent Affordable Care Act, also referred to as the ObamaCare policy that was passed in the President’s first term.
The government acted as a mediator that was bias and favoring to the businesses that work in the name of capitalism (specifically insurance and pharmaceutical companies in the case of the healthcare system). The president chose to accept the private insurance system and ultimately produced a system that has some form of “managed competition.” This idea was favored over the single payer system, which would have made the government responsible for providing universal care. The problem was that the government used its power to force or goad a private health insurance industry to cover everyone and keep cost down. The health insurance industries were influencing elected officials by giving them campaign contributions. This is a major conflict of interest, but shows how capitalism remains the priority over the social welfare of people. Awareness is necessary, or nothing will change, regardless is the issue if about the healthcare of the country or the gun violence in black communities.