In 1967, Dr. King spoke; “There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racism is still alive all over America. Racial injustice is still the Negro’s burden and America’s shame. And we must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over black Americans. We must face the fact that we still have much to do in the area of race relations.” Dr. King shared these words as part of his explanation of what he called “the three evils”; racism, poverty and war in ‘America’s Chief Moral Dilemma’.
In 2019, in the majority black city of Detroit, as we read Dr. King’s words it is obvious that, even with the great changes 50 years has wrought, many things remain problematic for African Americans. Dr. King calls out many American’s desire for a race-based selective “democratic” process, wherein whites have decision making power, while the black vote and voice is suppressed, silenced or supplanted.
Today, as we survey the economic and political landscape of Detroit we bear witness to the evolution of the racist desire Dr. King addressed. Emergency Management and the Bankruptcy, as intended, dismantled a great deal of black political and economic power.
Now, those power structures have been divided and their control and management distributed to white-led or corporate-influenced authorities, boards and organizations.
Now, vast amounts of public resources have been stripped from the commons in the form of huge tax abatements and redistributed to wealthy white billionaires.
Now, money that could have been used to address human rights issues like water shutoffs and affordable housing will be given away for decades to ease the financial burdens developers.
Dr. King stated that in order to address the issues of racism, poverty and war a redistribution of wealth and power is required, but we are moving in the wrong direction.
The data indicates that significant and persistent inequities exist in Detroit’s majority black population. Until we implement public policies that reflect an intentional strategy to achieve racial equity across all social and economic indicators, the inequities will continue.
To that end, this year and moving forward, we will organize and advocate for A New Social Contract for Detroiters.
In May of 2018, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative NESRI (www.nesri.org), launched a campaign for A New Social Contract. Their intersectional approach to address inequity and injustice offers community-centered solutions and tools, many advanced by DPP and our allies
NESRI’s A New Social Contract integrates:
PUBLIC GOODS FOR ALL Tools/Solutions: Universal Social Insurance and Free Public Services and a Just Tax Policy
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LANDTools/Solutions: Green Energy Democracy and Community Control of Land and Housing
HOW WE LABOR Tools/Solutions: Worker-Driven Enforcement Models and Cooperatives
FINANCING DIGNITY Tools/Solutions: Finance for Social Change and Public and Postal Banking
FROM EXCLUSION TO EQUITY AND PARTICIPATION Tools/Solutions: Restorative Justice and People-Centered Democracy
In 2019, Detroit People’s Platform will also integrate the Just Transition Principles into our Housing and Equitable Development work:
Climate Justice Alliance – Just Transition Principles
A Just Transition moves us toward Buen Vivir – Buen Vivir means that we can live well without living better at the expense of others.
A Just Transition creates Meaningful Work
A Just Transition upholds Self Determination
A Just Transition equitably redistributes Resources and Power
A Just Transition requires Regenerative Ecological Economics
A Just Transition retains Culture and Tradition
A Just Transition embodies Local, Regional, National and International Solidarity
A Just Transition must be liberatory and transformative.
A Just Transition builds What We Need Now