Is the Federal Budget Racist?
By Courtney Hanson
“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many in our nation are gathering next week to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s an important reminder to take a critical look at how the peace movement strives, and often fails, to embody King’s revolutionary spirit.
Forty-five years after King’s death, America continues to wage wars both abroad and here at home, wars that exacerbate the racism and sexism inherent in the military industrial complex and the US political system, which extend into popular culture, social norms and individual beliefs and actions.
The U.S. discretionary budget explicitly demonstrates the government’s misguided priorities. Rather than spending American tax dollars on programs and services that help the poor, a majority of whom are people of color, out of a cycle of poverty, our nation allocates the more than half of its spending on a mammoth military budget that spreads its racist oppression abroad.
While dedicating so many resources to the military budget may seem like America’s attempt to ‘defend democracy’ in reality, it declares war on democracy itself by demonstrating less value of certain constituencies of US residents and our internationally-extending friends and families.
President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal-year 2014 includes nearly $700 billion allocated for military spending, 56 percent of the budget pie. Vital programs like housing, health care and education each receive less than seven percent.
Not only does this budget illustrate the connections between racism and militarism, but it also inspires a movement that works to end both.
Dr. King, said it acutely1967, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
At Georgia WAND, our board, staff and membership are prioritizing work to advocate for a federal budget that lifts up the Common Good and works for all people. Together as a country, we need to heal our nation’s reckless and immoral budget and continue work towards peace and solidarity in the vision of the Dr. King.
In 2014, we’ll highlight the high cost of the war budget. We’ll demonstrate the trade offs to programs that are inline with the values and mission of Georgia WAND and our community partners working for environmental justice, women’s reproductive health, worker rights, civil rights and immigrant rights.
We’ll strive toward a movement for peace and racial justice at home and abroad.
Join the Georgia WAND contingent at Atlanta’s King Week march and rally on Monday, January 20, 1 pm at John Wesley Dobbs and Peachtree Center Avenues.
Courtney Hanson is Director of Organizing and Communication at Georgia WAND. She is an Atlanta activist and writer, working on environmental justice and gender equality. Prior to moving to the south, she worked as a journalist in Chicago, covering education, personalities, community events, women’s issues, homelessness and poverty.