Like many Americans, and indeed people around the world, we are watching a presidential campaign the likes of which hopefully only come around once every hundred years. It has been hard not to have an opinion on the race, particularly the tabloid style fulminations of the Republican candidates. On an almost daily basis there is something that one or more of these candidates says that forces us, in the community that embraces diversity, to stop and realize that progress is not necessarily linear and that the things we are working to make better are threatened by the politics of fear, exclusion, and hate.
Unfortunately, this nation has a history of blaming the outsider, the other and the different when economic times are difficult. What is interesting about this latest episode, is that while there are economic conditions that could be better, we are not in the midst of an economic recession or financial crisis like the one President Obama inherited in 2009. In fact, we have experienced 70 consecutive months of job growth. The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to under 5 percent. The Dow Jones has increased from 8,000 in January 2009 to 17,700 today. The housing prices are up, reducing the number of homeowners under-water from over 30 percent in 2009 to just over 13 percent today. Savings and wealth are starting to recover. Yes, there continue to issues of income distribution, but make no mistake the crisis that animates the Republican candidates is not fundamentally about the economy; it is about diversity.
This should not be surprising. We have known for years that America is changing. Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and Native Americans already comprise over 50 percent of the population in Hawaii, New Mexico, California and Texas. This is soon to grow to include Arizona, Florida, New York, and Nevada. And by the year 2042, the entire United States population will be majority “minority.”
This should not be threatening to White Americans, but for some it is. Increasing diversity becomes the thing that some can easily point to as the cause of their stagnation. Increasing diversity is tangible and inexorable, and something no wall can prevent from happening. Increasing diversity is resisted by those who view their standard of living from the relative perspective of the new comers. And this fear of the newcomers is not something that is only found among White Americans. Blacks can also fall prey to the same xenophobia that infects some White Americans. This tendency among Blacks is tempered by our own experience of being the “unwanted” other.
I believe we will as a country work our way through this current crisis before it becomes an existential crisis for the Republic. Intolerance can and has destroyed nations. To prevent this from happening here will take work, effort, and a great deal of tolerance for those whose misplaced anger hurts them more than it hurts us. I am no saint, and do not expect others to be saints. But it does fall on us to be better than those who suffer unease from the disease of hate.
Companies and MBEs and WBEs and Gay and Lesbian businesses and Veteran owned businesses must come together not to circle the wagons and prepare for further onslaughts from the ignorant and the intolerant. We must come together and educate, and love these haters. I believe this is what Martin Luther King would do if he were alive today. There is too much at stake to let hate and ignorance rule. The only superiority one group or person can ever have over another group or person is based on the capacity to love.
In your service,