My LA Times Opinion letter: Reimagine California
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Back in early May, the LA Times Opinion section asked readers to envision life in California after the pandemic and share their thoughts on what COVID-19 health and economic crisis reveals about us as a society, and what transformations may be necessary to the heal the trauma. More than 3700 readers responded, myself included. My response was included in the July 26, 2020, LA Times Sunday Edition:
"Carolyn L. Baker was among a handful of readers who wrote before George Floyd died to identify racism as causing many of the problems exacerbated by COVID-19:
Back in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson envisioned a "Great Society" and declared a "War on Poverty”, the centerpiece of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which created an Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to oversee a variety of community-based anti-poverty programs. Yet at the same time, the regulatory practices, labor and wage policies, and tax structure ensured the distinct winners and losers would remain perpetually the same.
The irony of this was best described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said 'Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.'
Policy changes over the past 50-plus years have continually whittled away the social safety net. Racism and classism have broken the country’s social compact and stunted the development of nearly every institution crucial for a healthy society. This includes organized labor, public education, wage and hour standards, job-based health and retirement security. Racist power and racist policies must be confronted, named, and dismantled."