A candidate’s podium seen prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas Mack Center on Oct. 19, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Here’s one thing you won’t see tonight: an in-depth discussion of racial justice and what it will take to make America a place where people of all backgrounds and treated fairly.
In the two prior presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, the closest we’ve seen was a question in the vice-presidential debate about “race relations” — specifically relationships between ethnic minorities and the police.
But the phrase “race relations” suggests that the root problem is a lack of comity between people of different racial backgrounds, rather than recognizing that the lack of comity is one symptom of a larger problem of racial inequalities and injustice.
Here’s some important facts about racial justice in America:
- Nearly two out of every five black kids live in poverty, a rate three times as high as white kids.
- White median household wealth is nearly 13 times higher than black household wealth, with Hispanics only slightly ahead of African Americans.
- African Americans are incarcerated at six times the rate of white Americans.
- Systemic inequalities that are often drawn along racial lines have created an immense human toll. The black homicide rate is almost seven times as high as the white homicide rate. In New Orleans, “54 percent of children ages 10 to 16 have had a close friend or relative murdered and nearly 40 percent have witnessed domestic violence.”
Discussion of these issues is mired in rhetorical landmines, and rubs up against many of the taboos of American political discussion. But it may be the “necessary trouble” that is needed to create an America where racial equality isn’t just a slogan but a reality.