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As we leave behind the tumultuous year of 2020, we have the growing sense that most Americans are eager to calm our strident politics and move forward in a way that brings peace, justice, and prosperity to all citizens, but particularly to Black Americans. Jason Riley argues that to do so, we have an obligation to look dispassionately at the policies of recent past administrations and decide which ones worked and which ones did not.

Riley, a longtime columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has dug into the data and concluded that the economic lives of Black people improved under policies put into place during the Trump Administration. To admit as much is not to endorse the 45th president but rather to champion policies that achieve a clear moral end. From the inauguration day of 2017 until the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Black people in the United States enjoyed higher wages and homeownership, record-low unemployment and poverty, and a narrowing of social inequality.

Without question, these are outcomes that everyone wants. The trouble is that we have fallen into the collective habit of allowing our disapproval of a political personality to skew our appraisal of effective policies. If we want to make actual progress, says Riley, we must look at what actually works, and keep doing it. We must not let partisanship allow us to sit back and watch these economic gains vanish, especially when we know better.

As with previous books in our New Threats to Freedom series, The Black Boom includes two essays from prominent experts who take issue with Riley’s assessment. This shows that it is possible to share the best of intentions for the most disadvantaged in our society but to disagree on what the data suggests we do. Nevertheless, civil, calm, rational dialogue, like the kind exemplified in this book, is what Americans want, and need, at this moment in our history.

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