In America: Getting Beyond the Hate

If we had any question about the timeliness of the spring issue of
YES!, "America:
The Remix,"
those doubts were put aside by the race-baiting at
recent tea party rallies. Less well known are the many ways the current
recession is devastating the
fragile fortunes of people of color

America: The Remix shows the extraordinary
possibilities that open up for us as a nation
if we reject the
hate-filled rhetoric and the exclusion of people of color, and instead
embrace the strengths and potentials of our country's growing diversity.

First, the bad news. Before the Great Recession hit, the average
family of color had a net worth of less than $30,000; the average white
family's net worth was $170,000. With the economic downturn, things got
worse for almost everyone, but especially for people of color. White
unemployment rose to 9 percent, but unemployment among blacks is at a
whopping 16 percent, and among Latinos it's nearly 13 percent. The
economic crisis hits blacks and Latinos in other ways, too. They were far
more likely to be saddled with high-rate, subprime loans
than their
white counterparts with similar qualifications, and they are more
likely to be facing the loss of their main asset-their home.

In spite of all this, a real post-racial society is still possible.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that by mid-century, people of color will be
the majority in the United States, and the
political clout of these communities
is bound to grow. Stories in
the spring
issue of YES! Magazine
show that the movements that joined hands to
elect Obama continue to unite people across race lines for economic
justice and livable communities. Events like the US
Social Forum
are bringing together thousands of racially-diverse
leaders, many of whom rarely are featured in the media.

And the
culture is shifting
, too. Multiethnic music, art and culture are
popular-especially among young people-and people of all ages are getting
increasingly comfortable being part of mixed-race
families and workplaces.

may feel we're giving up long-held privileges if we
acknowledge our nation as a multiracial society, one in which all its
inhabitants are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But an unequal society is profoundly unhealthy. According to researcher
and author Richard
, even those at the top of an unequal society have a lower
life expectancy and lower quality of life compared to those living in
more egalitarian circumstances. So, the privileged as well as the
excluded stand to gain from a more just and inclusive society.

No matter what our race, we will all benefit from the historic
journey to a fairer society.
Our community life can be much richer
and more authentic when every
member can rely on being respected
-regardless of language,
religion, culture or ancestry.

If we learn to work together, we may find that the shouting and
vitriol of talk shows make way for respect. As the tone of our national
dialogue improves, we have a much better chance of coming together
behind real answers to our national crises.

The election of Barack Obama built on centuries of struggle against
injustice. It's a milestone in the healing of a nation torn apart by
contradictions-the thirst for freedom and the desire for fresh
opportunities, but also the massacres of native peoples and the
enslavement of African families. The promise
of a more perfect union
can only be realized if we walk toward a
future committed to liberty and justice-this time for all.

This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.