Really, political plans should be to help everyone, and certainly many people beyond African-Americans would be helped by the steps below. But since the nature of modern politics seems to demand race-specific plans, and since so many destructive policies have been put into place to supposedly help African Americans, I will offer my list of suggestions:
- Legalize drugs. This would reduce the rents that attract the poor into dealing, would keep people out of jail, and reduce a lot of violent crime associated with narcotics traffic that kills investment and business creation in black neighborhoods. It would also reduce the main excuse for petty harassment by police that falls disproportionately on young black men. No it's not a good thing to have people addicted to strong narcotics but it is worse to be putting them in jail and having them shooting at each other.
- Bring real accountability to police forces. When I see stories of folks absurdly abused by police forces, I can almost always guess the race of the victim in advance. I used to be a law-and-order Conservative that blindly trusted police statements about every encounter. The advent of cell-phone video has proven this to be supremely naive. No matter how trusted, you can't give any group a pass on accountability.
- Eliminate the minimum wage (compromise: eliminate the minimum wage before 25). Originally passed for racist reasons, it still (if unintentionally) keeps young blacks from entering the work force. Dropping out of high school does not hurt employment because kids learn job skills in high school (they don't); it hurts because finishing high school is a marker of responsibility and other desirable job traits. Kids who drop out can overcome this, but only if they get a job where they can demonstrate these traits. No one is going to take that chance at $10 or $15 an hour**
- Voucherize education. It's not the middle class that is primarily the victim of awful public schools, it is poor blacks. Middle and upper class parents have the political pull to get accountability. It is no coincidence the best public schools are generally in middle and upper class neighborhoods. Programs such as the one in DC that used to allow urban poor to escape failing schools need to be promoted.
** This might not be enough. One of the main reasons we do not hire inexperienced youth, regardless of wage rates, is that the legal system has put the entire liability for any boneheaded thing an employee does on the employer. Even if the employee is wildly breaking clear rules and is terminated immediately for his or her actions, the employer can be liable. The cost of a bad hire is skyrocketing (at the same time various groups are trying to reign in employers' ability to do due diligence on prospective employees). I am not positive that in today's legal environment I would take free labor from an untried high school dropout, but I certainly am not going to do it at $10 an hour when there are thousands of experienced people who will work for that. Some sort of legal safe harbor for the actions of untried workers might be necessary.