“Monopolizing Justice:When Monetary Justice and Legal Lawsuits are not ENOUGH to fix our Racial Wounds”
The practice of racial discrimination and white supremacy in the American society not only literally kill human lives; it causes severe financial injuries and burden on the U.S. economy. What is depressing is that our governments–at the Federal, State, and County level–are resistant to work out an effective plan to destroy the systems, institutions, and practices that cause such national troubles and human sufferings. Justice is not cheap and a passive force. Injustice is even more costly than the practice and idea of justice. Monetary justice will never solve the roots of our common wounds and racial predicament. If the American government and elected officials would listen to the cry of the vulnerable members of our democracy and correspondingly to the complaints of those who continue to be victims of racial trauma and prejudice, and if they would act judicially and equitably to alleviate the racial pain and unjust practices, perhaps, we would be on the right path of racial healing and (more) racial progress.
According to various reports and studies, it has now become evident to us that our economic strength, military power, and ideals of democracy, not the practice of democracy, are not adequate to fix the deep problems of racism and white supremacy in the American society. Both practices are deeply human problems that are grounded profoundly in our value system and racial habits. In other words, our richness in military and material resources cannot and will not resolve the practice of racial hatred and inequality, and discriminatory laws and inequitable public policies. (I want to be clear here that I’m referring to how we have created a false vision of justice and democracy in this country. (1) We have wrongly equated democracy and justice with military power and economic progress. (2) We have wrongly substituted justice and democracy with an incomplete practice of freedom and human rights. (3) Correspondingly, we believe that compensating victims of racial injustice and oppression will solve the dilemma of racism and white supremacy embedded in our systems and institutions, and in our practices and habits. These are great moral dilemmas and ethical crises in this country. )
Further, members of the racialized and the economically-marginalized minorities in this country have been suing the American government –Federal, State, and County–since this country’s birth for the lack of practice of our foundational democratic ideals: equality, human rights, justice, peace, freedom, happiness, etc. Evidently, lawsuits that result in monetary justice –as some people have interpreted it–as a way to rectify acts of injustice and the practices of racial oppression should not be construed as total or genuine justice. Justice is a cardinal virtue necessary for any functioning democracy and government.
Unfortunatley, we cannot run a country on democratic ideals only. This conception of democracy is not enough and adequate, and has failed many American citizens for many years. There’s a conceptual and practical distinction between the theoretical ideals embedded in our Constitution and Bills of Rights and the pracrtice and the materialization of such lofty ideals in this nation’s systems and institutions, and moral and ethical values and worldviews.
Democracy is a state of being, an existential act, and a set of practices that influence every aspect and department of society, and necessitate other complementary human virtues: love, tolerance, inclusion, embrace, equality, equity, justice, etc. Such practices and interventions would contribute to the common good and human flourishing in society and in the world. Democracy is also built on certain moral principles and ethical values to sustain its continual practice and longevity, and cultural and political force in society and in the world.
Racism is not cheap. White supremacy is costly. They are major threats to our democratic system and tradition. Both racism and white supremacy are anti-democratic practices that defer the triumph of justice in our midst and governmental systems and institutions. Human flourishing cannot happen when racism and inequality are visible structures in society and governance. Justice is the very foundation of democracy. Without justice, our democracy will always be short of equality. To monopolize justice and love in all our doings and actions and intellectual practices and political interventions is to place democracy at the centre of human existence and political life.
Finally, as a country, we do have a choice to make things right and to champion the imperative cause of justice and equality and plural democracy in this society; here are some suggestions:
- We should prioritize total justice in all our legal transactions and human interactions.
- We should practice generous justice in all areas and departments of our plural democracy.
- We must reinterpret the concept of democracy as an act and way of life, not just ideals, and the right feeling toward other citizens and human beings.
- We must see our plural democracy and justice as concrete human, educational, intellectual, and legal practices and habits that will make us better as a nation.
- We should construe human rights as rights that are necessary for our practice of democracy and citizenship. Yet human rights are fundamental and natural rights that all citizens need to flourish in life and to explore their full potential as members of our democracy and members of the human race.
- We should reinterpret justice and equality as daily practices that add more value and dignity to our shared humanity; any force that threatens justice and human dignity could lead to the practice of dehumanization and injustice.
- We should continue to strive together and collaborate to destroy systems, institutions, and pracrices–judicial, intellectual, economic, cultural, ideological, political, etc.– that create alienation between this country’s racial and ethnic groups, and those that defer our racial healing and progress as human beings created in the image of God, our common Creator.
***Finally, read the report below on “The Cost of Racism” in the American society:
“Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion.
Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It’s not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year.
And not acting to reverse discriminatory practices will continue to exact a cost. Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans.”
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