Imara Jones, who worked on economic policy under former President Bill Clinton, charges President Obama with exacerbating the problem of “white supremacy” in the United States by failing to use the fiscal cliff negotiations to ameliorate racial injustice.
“Our collective denial over the fundamental injustice at the heart of our economic system is a result of white supremacy,” wrote Jones, who was special assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative for the last two years of Clinton’s presidency, on Color Lines.
“White supremacy is a low-level assumption about characteristics that white people allegedly have which transforms inequality between them and everyone else into something natural,” he explained. “It often masks itself as fairness and goes unquestioned as a result. Using this definition, our current tax code is a work of white supremacy.”
Jones argued that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush delivered a policy victory to white supremacists and the Ku Klux Kla by cutting taxes.
“[S]ince Reagan’s success in winning office off of white supremacist notions, the U.S. has struggled to be honest with itself about the racial impact of its economic choices,” he said. “The trouble is that you can’t solve a problem that you don’t admit exists.”
And that’s where Obama starts to take the blame for perpetuating white supremacist policies. “In his silence Obama extends his party’s complicity in our economic system’s destructive racial aspects,” Jones writes. “By not confronting the racial aspects of economic inequality, we’ve actually hardened our former racial caste system, which had economic implications, into an economic caste system that has racial implications.”
So, the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations are all wrong. “Instead of a debate over tax increases or spending cuts, what we need to have is an argument about what kind of country we want to have,” he suggests. “Until we have a real stand-off over our fundamental values, we’ll continue to be stuck in a national economic cul-de-sac shaped by white supremacy.”