Jan 21, 2014
News at Princeton covered my Martin Luther Kind Day keynote. A couple quotes:
“Mercer County is like a rich country and a developing country mashed together within one border, and Mercer County is not unique,” Wasow said. “Almost anywhere we go in America, the differences in the quality of life for white Americans and black Americans would be similar or even worse.”
Today’s problems may be easily identified through such racial disparities, but they aren’t necessarily best addressed through solutions that center on race, Wasow said. “One of the great challenges of our times is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions,” he said.
Wasow pointed to the criminal justice system, and particularly the war on drugs, as an area where eliminating racially discriminatory laws and practices hasn’t created a truly just system.
“Advancing racial equality within such a highly punitive system offers only a Pyrrhic victory,” Wasow said. “It is not enough to have racial justice in enforcement. We need justice in how our laws are enforced. And we need laws that are actually just.”