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One solution to systemic racism: Quit your job

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “systemic racism,” lots of lecturing about how racism is ingrained in just about everything American, and that it’s embedded in our DNA. 

There’s no debate about this, as far as progressives are concerned. To them, it’s simply the truth.

So, in the wake of George Floyd’s horrible death, all sorts of powerful white people have taken to television and print to tell us that they’re determined to fight systemic racism, determined to right history’s wrongs. That probably means the establishment of government commissions and blue-ribbon panels, followed by official studies and reports — and all of it takes time, lots of time.

But I’ve got a plan that would put a dent in systemic racism in America — and we would see the results virtually overnight.

Here’s the idea: Every white corporate CEO who thinks racism is ingrained in our culture, every white journalist who thinks racism has infected every facet of American life, every politician who thinks this is a fundamentally racist country — all of them should voluntarily give up their jobs, on one condition: that they be replaced by qualified African Americans.

Let me repeat that: If you’re white and really want to do something to combat systemic racism, and not wait years to see the face of America change, then give up your job so that an African American man or woman can take your place.

So, under my plan, corporate CEOs would resign. So would network anchors, reporters and producers at places such as CNN and MSNBC, and columnists at newspapers and other media sites such as the New York Times. Politicians would vow not to run for reelection — and would throw their support behind an African American candidate to take their place. (And we can expand that to other minorities and to women in short order once the process begins.)

The same would go for the liberal glitterati in Hollywood: Movie stars would turn down big roles and big paychecks, and would tell studio moguls that they want minorities to be cast in the roles instead. If they think they have white privilege, and if that makes them feel guilty, this is a good way to ease their pain. There are plenty of talented minority actors and actresses who, I’m sure, would embrace my idea — and who, in many cases I suspect, would do a better job.

This isn’t just some far-fetched, cranky-conservative suggestion. Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, the social networking site, has resigned from the company’s board and said he wants to be replaced by an African American. Ohanian is white and married to tennis star Serena Williams. Good for him — he, apparently, at least is acting on his convictions, unlike many for whom talk is cheap, especially when it doesn’t affect their own positions and status in life.

Now, in something of the same vein, Philadelphia Magazine editor Tom McGrath has announced that he will resign in coming months and should be replaced by someone other than “a middle-aged white guy” like himself because “real change will only come about when some power is redistributed.”

Let’s see how many others follow their leads. Not many, I’m guessing. A friend of mine said, tongue-in-cheek, that he thinks most progressives would rather join a right-wing hate group than take me up on my plan.

There’s an old saying that speaks to this tendency of wanting to do good but not wanting to pay the price to achieve that goal: “Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there.”

All decent Americans hate real racism. We detest racists. We know the damage bad cops can do; we’ve watched it tearing the country apart for weeks now.

But just because we don’t want to defund the police, or eliminate police departments altogether, or don’t believe racism is in our country’s DNA, does not make us part of the problem.

So I call on the powerful, mostly white men in our country to do the right thing. If you resign your job and enable an African American or other minority to take your place, it would go a long way to ending the racism you believe plagues this country.

And, even more important, it would ease your liberal guilt. 

Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist, is a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.

Tags George Floyd protests Institutional racism race and society White privilege

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