Preview: An Optimist for Our Times

April 10, 2012

Angela Glover Blackwell has spent her adult life advocating practical ways to fulfill America’s promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. Now, with our middle class struggling, poverty rising, and inequality growing, the founder and chief executive officer of PolicyLink, an influential research center, finds reasons for hope in the face of these hard realities.

On this week’s Moyers & Company (check local listings), Bill Moyers and Blackwell discuss what fuels her optimism.

“I’m not discouraged, and I wouldn’t even dream of giving up, because we’re at a moment right now where I think we have more possibility than I’ve seen in my adult lifetime,” Blackwell tells Moyers. “Part of what I’ve been feeling is that all the issues are finally on the table… So many people who are being left behind are now in places where they have voice, and influence, and they’re forcing their way into the conversation.”

“America doesn’t want to talk about race,” she states, but says the future “is a five-year-old Latina girl. It is a seven-year-old black boy. What happens to them will determine what America looks like… and so this country, as a democracy, really cannot expect to continue to be proud on the world stage, competitive in the global economy, or having a democracy it can put forward as working in a multi-racial society if we don’t invest in the people who are the future.”

  • submit to reddit
  • Nettie

     Change does not necessarily assure progress, but
    progress implacably requires change. Education is essential to change,
    for education creates both new wants and the ability to satisfy them.

  • Anonymous

    How sad that the only response to this optimist is a suckerbait ad. Barbara Ehrenreich could deconstruct this but it makes me too depressed to think. Leave it up Ms. Riley, just to show what a beartrap capitalism has become for the desperate, what a minefield you must tread to reach free speech.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll temporarily frost the que by plotting the trajectory of  Blackwell’s 7 year old Black boy. Odds are he is a poor kid in a failed, underfunded pubic school. If his family had a house they probably lost it thanks to the toxic mortgage forced on them by a crooked, racist broker. Chances are 25% that any male adult in the family is unemployed, and even any college educated female adult is likely to have had a stint without a job recently. Money may be coming in from guerilla workers in the informal economy but it ain’t steady. Any car note is likely at a higher rate than for Whites of the same income and education. If anybody is on assistance it will be SNAP only which is about 25% of poverty subsistence. (Three quarters of poor children get zilch, nuttin’, nada!) How much worse will things be in 14 years when Barack Trayvon Little turns 21. Austerity will mean mercenaries have all the perpetual war jobs by then.  Grandma’s subversive activity in Community Action during the 1970s will exclude Bee from Homeland policing. Prison will all be a slave labor industry of some sort. Toady Blacks in government or business gateways will deny knowing B. T. Little, even if he they cousin or little nephew, because they be barely holding on to corncakes by then. It’s a class thing you see. Every dystopian movie predicts it and every awake critic can smell it coming around the calendar. They’ll be two kinds of animals; Us and Them, if the financial fascist corporatism has sway; and It seems to be holding nature hostage, threatening to smoke all our sausage if it don’t get it’s sway. This Optimist thang without some sort of radical dissidence in it is a Myth. And what it’s gonna do to 30 million Black kids is genocide, and it ain’t gonna stop at them but eat a 60 million rainbow more. All it’s gonna ask is,”How much money yo’ mama got?” and “Do you support the Oligarchy with all your heart?” All the dignified optimism in the cosmos ain’t gonna stop it. A real dirty class war has been on in the USA for 4 decades, and it will get dirtier. Revolution, peaceful or otherwise, is Bee’s only hope…. and I’ll go a little farther than Gil Scott Herron- It not only won’t be televised; It won’t be Online neither!

  • Beth

    Mr Moyers thinks hard working folks who succeed, should be punished, by being made to pay higher taxes. Most conservatives I know are more hands on in helping others, whereas liberals tend to think government should take care of people.

    And Mr.Moyers seems to ignore by choice, the main fact most people are poor. And that is poor lifestyle choices from dropping out of school, to having children one cannot afford. And drug, alcohol, obesity issues. These all make people both poor and sick. So don’t blame or try and make those who work hard and make wise choices, feel guilty.

    And why is it that someone can come here legally from another country, work hard and have children who ALL graduate from college with degrees that actually result in never being out of work? Yet we have American born folks who whine and complain so much, while living far above their means. Big homes, more than one car, walk in closets full of clothes. Refrigerators full of unhealthy foods, big
    screen tv sets even in poor homes.

    And how about telling folks like Warren Buffet to shut up and write a check to the government if you don’t think they are getting enough of your money. Notice these folks never pause to think about the fact that ALL those
    taxes would have gone to two damn wars that we haven’t even won. Wars that have resulted in some of our families losing members and/or having family members come home maimed and disabled.

  • Concerned viewer

    I have a really hard time listening to CEO, Anglea Blackwell,  saying we are “pulling black men out of the community and placing them in prison”.  I know she said she got her first degree from Howard & her law degree from Berkley (any minority scholarships?) so she has to know you have to break the law to end up in our penile systems! I also have a hard time only hearing her mention the words “white poor people” only two times during her entire monologue and acting like ONLY the Latino & Black communities are being hurt by the attack on our public school systems; not any of our rural communities that are majority caucasian, OR ANY OTHER RACES IN OUR USA?! Let’s just talk class – Wealthy/Middle Class/Lower Class/Poverty;  just like it has always been and will always be.  Let’s stop pulling the race card and just work together with those categories no matter what ethnic group you are, everyone falls into one of these classes.  I work for public education and have often thought how simple it would be to simply stop making any race of people pay taxes for public education by submitting their proof of payments to private schools for their children.  The taxes for schools are a set amount for rich or poor, so instead of these wealthy lobby groups trying to systematically close our public schools because the rich are tired of paying for their child’s private school and also funding public schools; let’s take the rich out of the equation!  Let’s make everyone using the public school system pay their taxes and if anyone is caught not paying their taxes then their children will not attend.  I am tired of everyone feeling someone else is responsible for their world! Stop making excuses for people that make bad choices! Start opening drug rehab facilities and end the welfare system! The welfare system was not created to be a “job” for the poor! I have kids in my classes that say they don’t have to get their diploma or go to college because they will get “paid to stay home” like their parents do (that are on welfare). Sometimes there are simple answers, but these won’t be considered when blame is the answer!  I am a caucasian female, married with a working spouse and we elected to only have one child so we could afford to take care of him.  Why not make people of all races who are currently on welfare be sterilized after two children(male & female) so we don’t continue to allow reproduction of future welfare recipiants that are sucking up funding that could be put into the education system instead of the welfare system?  

  • Anonymous

    To paraphrase Blackwell, ” All black and brown children who go to schools in inner cities don’t have the opportunity to go to any school they choose.”  How silly is that?  I’m a teacher who has taught black , brown, and other children who attend inner city schools and come from poverty.  If I were to perpetuate Blackwell’s notion of being a victim and not being able to overcome hurdles because of who you are and where you go to school would be almost criminal.  Work hard and try your best to accomplish your dreams and things will work out.  But, if one takes Blackwell’s advice/opinion, nothing will get accomplshed behond having the government take care of you forever.  

  • Dan McAvena

    This woman’s legacy will be taught in American History Books in twenty years.

  • Marti

    Our society has abandoned inner city public schools and then tries to cover it up by saying anyone who works hard can accomplish their dreams. How silly is that?

  • Aad206

    Ok white person

  • Teresa Sweetser

    Angela Glover Blackwell makes me feel sane again. She is right and it is true that race, discussions about race, the inequities because of race have all gone untouched for far too long. Race is the elephant in the room. I’m talking about all people of color, African-American, Latino,Asian & Middle Eastern. I couldn’t believe that I heard Ms.Blackwell speak the truth so eloquently not only about race but about education and fair taxation. Usually I hear these ideas shared in the confidence and safety of college classrooms and interactions among closes friends but she said it for all the world to hear and now we’re not going to stop talking about the truth that racism still imbeds every facet of American life and that we have just gotten used to how things are.

  • Anonymous

    Right, it’s” society’s” fault. Continue the blame game and keep drinking your Koolaid.