These disproportionate statistics is the reason why the “Black Lives Matter” movement was born. The Black Lives Matter movement started in August 2014, when protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.
However, the name was coined one year earlier by a Bay Area activist by the name of Alicia Garza who took to Facebook. “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter,” she wrote. This was shortly after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin an unarmed black teenager. Along with fellow activists, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, they helped popularize the phrase on twitter and other social media sites. The black lives matter movement epitomizes the struggle black men face everyday in today’s America for racial justice.
Another contemporary public policy issue that raises social equity concerns has to do with the immigration question. What is the best way to handle America’s millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.
The current administration stand, regarding building a border wall on the southern border with Mexico has continued to generate mixed reactions in America and in the international community. The recent news of separation of children of immigrants at the border post generated so much brouhaha that the policy was reversed. Currently, there is the migrant caravan issue at the border and the classification that all migrant caravan are criminal element trying to enter America.
Occupy Wall Street protest movement began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district, it received global attention, growing into a big global movement against economic inequality worldwide.
The Occupy Wall Street protest was largely motivated by growing disparity in income in America and the perception of corporate greed. There is this perception in America, that the wealth of America is concentrated in the top 1% of the economy while 99% majority live in the middle class and poverty level. This movement underscored the impact of unemployment, growing poverty and low economic viability of many disadvantaged groups and their communities who are largely African Americans, Latinos, native Indian tribes and many other minority immigrant populations in the country.
Public administrators must take proactive steps in order reestablish fairness and justice in the administration of public policy. This proactive step will sometimes include affirmative action which is a deliberate policies, guidelines and administrative practices ‘intended to end and correct the effects of a specific form of discrimination”. Public administrators must also design public policies that are effective at the local level. The impact of disparity in social equity is often felt at the local level. Therefore, public administrators must design programs and policies that tackles this problem at the local level.
Since social equity problem directly correlates to “wicked problems”, the solution often may not be available to one agency, tier of government etc. therefore collaboration through networked government may be necessary in order to develop an innovative and creative solutions to this problem. Wicked problems are usually complex, with multiple dimensions, multifaceted and with divergent viewpoints. Public administrators can begin to influence change by instituting a collaborative model such as a multisector community coalition that will pool resources, experience, knowledge and expertise in different areas and disciplines and channel them through discussion, agreement and negotiation into a framework for producing fair and transparent public policies.
Another key approach is to engage the citizenry on moral indignation to social injustice and lack of social equity in the local communities through the use of powerful visuals, public campaigns and social engagement tools. This type of public advocacy will require a moral leader that can put the issues and problem in perspective. In resolving social equity issues, public administrators described by Fredrickson as “natural social equity warriors” are interconnected to the concept of neutral competence, professional norms and ethical behaviors, because they public administrators once hired are free to do their job to the best of their ability and as professionally as they can be, performing their duties to the highest ethical standards, and ensuring that they are not hampered by political decisions, influences, and pressure. Bureaucratic professionalism gives the public administrator wide bureaucratic discretion to influence social equity which is very necessary in today’s world.
In conclusion, America has come a long way in the quest for social equity. There have been a few deliberate efforts at reducing this problem most especially with the passage of the landmark Civil Right Act of 1964 which abolished many forms of discrimination. However, there are still many obstacles and challenges in making social equity the norm in America. There still exist today many forms of discrimination and racial profiling, though done subtly unlike what was obtained in the past when they were institutionalized. The challenge now is for public administrators to rise to the challenge and begin to genuinely through innovative and deliberate collaboration develop policies that promote fairness and social justice in America today, starting from the bottom-up. Anything less than that will result in failure and doing the same thing over and over.