Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ford Foundation. "... hopelessness and cynicism that undermines our shared ideals and institutions ..." June 2020

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Motion shot of guests sitting at tables at a gala.

Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Darren WalkerI have lived on both sides of American inequality. I began life in the bottom 1 percent but found my way to the top. And I know, all too personally, that the distance between the two never has been greater.

Even before the coronavirus, before the lockdowns, and before the murder of George Floyd—during the longest sustained economic expansion in American history—income inequality in America had reached staggering levels.

This contributes to a ", pits us against one another, and drives communities further apart. That’s why I am worried about our democracy, deeply and for the first time in my life.

I still believe in the American idea and in the values to which we have always aspired. If we are to keep the American dream alive, our democratic values flourishing, and our market system strong, then we must redesign and rebuild the engine that drives them. The old playbook—giving back through philanthropy as a way of ameliorating the effects of inequality—cannot heal what ails our nation.

Instead, those of us with power and privilege must grapple with a more profound question: What are we willing to give up?

I pose this question in my new op-ed in The New York Times, but I invite all of you to become part of this conversation, to ask yourselves how you contribute to the problem, and consider what you are willing to give up to move us closer to a world of equality and justice.

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