I think another component of this discussion is a tendency treating ideas as mutually exclusive.

There is the idea on the left that the system is to blame for all social woes and that we must all pitch in to make up for it. There is the idea on the right that individuals are to blame and we should contract the system to give individuals space to make better decisions. Then there is the idea that it is just one or the other, so people that start have doubts about the one side (like you friend) think that must mean the other side’s answer is the only true.

What often is lost in the dust is the idea that the system and individuals both can be at fault. If you talk to a lot of black folks, they will even speak to this. They will say something akin to, “Yeah, slavery and segregation and current housing and policing activities have had and continue to have negative impacts, but there are also opportunities that are given to us that not all of us utilize.”

I think the direction we need to head going forward is figure out what the right balance is between holding the system responsible and holding individuals responsible. If you and another person get in a fight, you’re both guilty of a crime. If we know that blame can be mutual — but maybe unequal — for other troubles, why can we not see that for this one as well?

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