Racism Should Not Be Defunded.

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The public outcry for police reform is more than just a centuries-old social issue between black people and law enforcement. It challenges the traditional role of the government in responding to market failures and their longstanding effects on public trust and the mission of police departments as a public good.

But what has gone unchallenged in the Black Lives Matter movement is whether nonprofits and even the government can dismantle the racialized system of social control embedded in the fibers of American society.

The pressure of the government to defund the police is as serious as demanding reparations for value gained from the economic exploitation of their ancestors, sold at a high price in southern slave-holding states. It was slave labor that produced consumer goods that were the basis of world trade for three centuries until inefficiency such as competition, wage change, and the civil war interrupted the market.

The importance of tracing the economic problems faced by a large segment of the black population, is that it explains the intentionality of market failure theory and the systemic effects of government-imposed restrictions on black people across generations.

Because the way the slogan ‘defund the police’ is not examined from an economic perspective, the old forces of racism and exclusion become resurgent and stronger by generation and remain embedded across social problems affecting mostly black people.

However, the longstanding abuse of public servant occupations, as a public good, for negative externalities, is partly to blame.

When the government first responded to the exclusion of black children from the public welfare system in the 19th century leading to an overrepresentation among youth in the current system today, that is a social service issue.

When the government made it illegal to run schools designed to exclude people because of their race, it becomes an educational side effect of discrimination when the flight is in response to undereducation and over-policing.

When the government responded to the high white youth unemployment rates in the late 1940s led to more job losses for blacks, the real explanation lies in the criminal justice system.

Finally, and most notably, when public safety responses to crime involve high police presence and, as a result, arrest, we see today a law enforcement issue and began to recognize the oversaturation of white privilege affecting racial equity and inclusion across all American social institutions.

Racism should not be defunded but unemployed and no longer taxable. Thus, it should be abolished.

For decades, the government has controlled the market using regulatory policy tools to create a natural and often invisible flow of nonprofit functioning that led to a decrease in efficiency and high demands for adequate and equitable public goods and services in black communities.

Even worse, now, efforts from grassroots organizations that are representative of the community are often left behind with insufficient funding and resources, thereby making this issue not solely about policing but rather the control over public goods and services.

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It is without question that an ideal efficient market, the sum of adequacy and equitability, is a utopia: one that does not marginalize and fail to empower and create trust and safety among its consumers. It’s just how we get there, is not a black issue but a societal one.

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Shauntia White, MSW

Shauntia White, MSW

Founder, YSocialWork, Inc. | TIAA/Do Good Institute Fellow, University of Maryland

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