President Trump ran on a platform of “Make America Great Again.” A familiar retort was that America was still great. But it was not as great as it could be. Its greatness arises not so much from its military power, but from its soft power and its economic power. In today’s world, America’s continued racism undermines that soft power and our overall economic performance.
The warning of the Kerner Commission is as relevant today as it was then: “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” That kind of society will not be a beacon to the world and that kind of economy will not flourish. Everyone will lose if we continue in that direction. An alternative world is possible. But fifty years of struggle has shown us how difficult it is to achieve that alternative vision.