“Just admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the ones who have had to know it all their lives just so they don’t die.” These words of Tim Wise stuck out to me Thursday at the Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event, because it is all too true about the way income inequality, homelessness and poverty is handled in America.
White men in D.C. are trying to fix situations they know nothing about. Wise said that you don’t know anything you haven’t taken a class on. White men will never know anything about racism because they have never had to deal with it. Politicians will never know anything about poverty because chances are they have never had to live through it.
If you talk to a politician about how to end income equality, and compare it to those who get the crap end of the stick of income equality, chances are they will be vastly different.
Presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders had a long list of how he’s going to end income inequality. After reading them all, it appears that he wants to just throw money at the issue. He wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, or invest $5.5 billion into youth job problems, or make tuition free at public universities throughout America.
While all of these changes sound nice, where is he going to get this money? And how is he going to ensure that the one’s suffering from income inequality are going to be the ones benefitting from these changes?
Wise talked about how 160,000 African Americans are arrested yearly on drug charges that are strictly enforced in African American communities, while there are 160,000 white people in America who are not arrested on drug charges when they should.
When going for these pretty new jobs that pay $15, do you think employers are going to give it to the one with a record over the one without one? Because an increase in minimum wage means that employers can now be even pickier on whom they hire. They are getting one for the price of two, so whomever they hire better be damn good.
Which adds to the downward spiral of income inequality, because those who grow up in better communities, with better career resources and more privileges, will have the better resume and interviewing skills over the less fortunate person.
I doubt that the politicians intentionally meant for income inequality to get this out of hand, but thinking that they have the knowledge to fix it is just unimaginable to me. One piece of advice I’m sure Tim Wise would give them is to listen to those who took the class, because they truly know what needs to be done.