Systemic racism has become a cliché, but in the hands of experts, it's going strong.

Trump and DeVos, conspire to maintain the racial status quo—for at least one more generation.

Donald Trump doesn't like the Black Lives Matter movement. Most racists don't.


He prefers that tired old platitude that all lives matter, and says it with the passion of someone who has just undergone an epiphany—who never knew that before. (Ironically, his response to the coronavirus is proof he doesn't really believe that any lives matter.)


But "all lives matter" is exactly what I would expect to hear from someone who believes Black lives don't. For Trump "all" generally means white, and white people in America have never had to question their race as an impediment—as "mattering." They just always mattered. Trust me, I'm white people.


I never needed a White History Month or a course in White Literature. Everything was white already just as it is for Trump. And he is endeavoring to maintain that. I'm not talking about the Confederate flags and statues—those are just stupid, childish distractions—shiny objects for us to debate. I mean his latest dumpster fire—the one starring him and fellow aristocrat Betsy DeVos, she of the anti-public school movement which she continues to press as, what else, Education Secretary. Neither one of them would ever be confused with the sharpest knife in the drawer, but sometimes a simple plan can be diabolically effective.


This one works as follows. First, Trump demands all kids return to school. In many states Covid-19 is raging, and as a country we're approaching and ready to pass one-thousand deaths a day, just like in March and early April. Schools will obviously be unable safely to reopen, but DeVos will remind private schools that they can do whatever they want.


Next, and here it becomes a bit sticky because our government can't simply redirect public school funds to private schools, but remember, the first relief act from April saw millions redirected to private schools and colleges. For instance, the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential, a private college in Wisconsin that has a website debunking claims that it is a cult, was allocated about $495,000. Let's hear it for WGURHP! (Seinfeld aficionados will remember George Costanza's Human Fund. I think WGURHP might exist in the same milieu.) Thanks, Betsy.


Expect DeVos and Trump to push private (and especially religious-affiliated) schools. Even if they can't fund them fully, allowing private schools to set their own parameters will allow parents with means to have their kids educated—maybe not well—but educated, while those barely getting by will find their kids at home, maybe doing some distance learning, but maybe not.


You can see where this is going. In 2018 10% of white Americans lived in poverty, but the figure rises to 17% for Hispanics; to 20% for Blacks Americans. It's pretty obvious that the deeper into poverty a person or family find themselves, the less likely they'll be able to find a job that allows them to work from home, leaving minorities with an awful choice: stay home and monitor the kids or earn enough to eat. The third option—private schools—will be economically prohibitive, just like living in nice neighborhoods where affordable housing is prohibited. (Talking to you Westport, Greenwich, et al.) There's your systemic racism—keep minorities away, then make sure they stay away by reducing their educational opportunities, resulting in lower-paying jobs and the need for affordable housing which...well, I think you got the point.


Black lives matter? It's a nice slogan, but talk is cheap. Trump once referred to himself as the least racist person he knows, this after launching his campaign by denigrating Mexicans. The problem is that we may believe we're better than that, but the simple belief may no longer be enough. We have to take the next step: opposing racism and those who practice it. It's not a passive response, but it's calling people out, including people who claim to be unbiased but whose words or deeds belie that.


It is happening: more and more white Americans are participating in protests, and the more passive people are, at least, in agreement. But protests and passivity will not work against the likes of Trump, DeVos, Stephen Miller, et al. We deal with them by voting and removing their power. November is coming.


But now it's summer, and our survival—as a nation and as individuals—has never been more tenuous. Taking on a social issue may seem like too much, but it will determine whether the story of America concludes with one putrescent presidency, or continues on after the two contemporaneous viruses have been cleansed.




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