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Attacking the Racial Divide

By Bob Gatty

Our nation has been afflicted with a racial divide that’s grown deeper over the past four years since the election of President Donald J. Trump, whose rhetoric and actions have deliberately stoked racial fear as he has labeled himself the “law and order” president.

Trump knows that reinforcing racial stereotypes rooted in white fear of Black men works to his advantage among his core followers. Giving lip service to quelling the racial unrest and concern about police killings of unarmed Black people, while simultaneously embracing white supremacist law enforcement tactics and optics, enables him to achieve his goal of upholding the status quo while playing the part of a concerned leader.

After all, Trump’s end game is to stoke racial fear and use it as a tool to win re-election. That’s been his end game since his election.

Trump’s time in office has been filled with tragic consequences for Black Americans who have suffered at the heel – and the knee – of White cops and who continue to face the consequences of living while Black, whether it’s simply driving a car or trying to get paid on an equal basis to their White coworkers.

The Pay Gap

Black workers in the United States routinely make less per hour than their peers.

Data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that white workers on average routinely bring home a higher hourly wage than their Black and Hispanic counterparts.

The pattern holds for most education levels, including those with a college degree. White workers in that group outpace Black workers by more than $7 per hour on average.

“The wage gap has actually grown over the last couple decades,” said Valerie Wilson, the director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at EPI.  “Currently the median Black worker earns about 76 cents for every dollar earned by the median White worker on an hourly basis,” she said. “When we consider race and gender together, that gap is even more glaring. Black women on average earn only about 64 cents for every dollar earned by the average white man.”

Horry County Black Employment

It’s no wonder that many Black residents of Horry County continue to feel like they are second class citizens. A recent survey conducted by HCDP of a cross section of Black residents revealed that about 96 percent of those who responded believe that Black Americans here are treated worse than their White counterparts.

That should not be. But in Horry County, there are few real, productive and good-paying jobs, largely because Republicans in power have done nothing to bring them into our area.

HCDP and Democratic candidates stand for a renewed approach to attracting the industry that will provide those jobs in our communities, thus improving opportunities for all our residents. Democratic candidates have pledged to focus on more than just the hospitality industry and do all they can to attract manufacture and technology jobs with higher pay, more stability, and increased opportunities for productive careers.

Criminal Justice

A person should not be judged by their skin color, but by the content of their character. And, young Black men in Horry County should not be treated any differently. Democratic candidates support holding police accountable for targeting people based on skin color and requiring mandatory training for police and county employees on race relations.

A Democratic-led county council would ensure that social workers partner with police when addressing non-violent calls to 911. Democrats demand fairness when it comes to criminal justice and sentencing, and believe that Black residents must not receive greater punishment than their White counterparts. It is wrong that a Black individual would be targeted by police while driving simply because of the color of their skin.

But it happens in South Carolina, and even Yale University graduate and U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Harrison can attest to that.

During an online forum sponsored by HCDP, Harrison told how, when he was in his early 20s and had just purchased a new car after graduating from Yale, he was pulled over by a white trooper because his car had struck something in the road and it apparently flipped up and smacked the patrol car following him. The incident ended peacefully, although Harrison was repeatedly grilled and felt like the cop was attempting to intimidate, even threaten him simply because he is Black.

Harrison pointed out that while his incident ended without difficulty, many, many other similar incidents, mostly unreported, all across the nation, do not. And, of course, the killing of the young black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia by two white vigilantes was a tragic example of a black man losing his life because of the color of his skin. And, so many others: George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Rayshard Brooks. And many more.

During the forum, Harrison called on people of all races to join together to overcome bigotry. “We all have to stand up,” he said. “If you are a good person in this country and you see things that are not right, it is incumbent that you stand up and say enough is enough. As a black person, I should not have to carry all of that weight. Not in America. We shouldn’t have to do it. It’s not fair for us to do that because we already carry the weight of being Black each and every day.

“It’s time for us to unify as a people and say enough is enough. We have to stop this. We have to stop the target on Black men. We have to stop the target on Black women. We have to start treating each other the way we want people to treat us, because right now I can tell you that people in the African American community are not being treated (fairly).”

Call to Action

Much needs to be done to address the needs of Black and other minority residents of Horry County, including flood mitigation, improving our roads, attracting good paying jobs, working for policing and criminal justice reform, improving education, healthcare, and effectively coping with COVID-19.

But to achieve that, increased political representation within the Black community is an essential component. We need qualified candidates for every open position in local and state government, and that includes candidates who are Black. It’s a major priority and must be achieved if our goals and objectives are to be reached. While it is too late for this election, we are in it for the long term. So, we invite anyone who is interested and feels they are qualified to serve in public office to let us know and we will try to be as helpful as possible.

We need Black candidates to step up and join the fight.

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