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Thus, if -- as afew seems to be saying -- problems such as the overrepresentation of African-Americans in U.S. prisons or the overrepresentation of youths of African and Carribean descent in the French riots are not primarily due to racism, then that is a relatively hopeful situation. For in that case, we do not have to undertake the gargantuan task of getting rid of racism head on, but can make significant changes through the relatively easier task of implementing policy changes.
I totally agree that culture does not exist independent of policy. But law/policy and culture/attitudes do not march together in lockstep, nor of course are culture/attitudes monolithic across a region in which a policy/law is applicable.
Changes in law/policy, being something that is effected by a relatively tiny number of people, can be sought for much more easily than changes in culture/attitudes. The change having made, if the law/policy is not compatible with culture/attitudes of a large enough portion of the population, those changes risk getting rolled back. But if the law/policy is "culture-neutral", or at least is not disfavored by too large a portion of the population, then if the policy works, I believe it will remain in place, and may eventually contributed to changes in culture and attitudes (e.g. outlawing slavery in the south, though it took a while, has eventually led to the mainstream view there that blacks and whites must be treated equally.)
School vouchers are another example. They are bitterly opposed and fervently opposed by different parts of the population. But they have already been implemented as experiments in certain areas, and if they are found to "work", they may become more populat and become more popular, and more permanent.
Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.
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