Presidential candidate Andrew Yang met with members of the community on Tuesday, including parents of black Arbor View high school students targeted by racist threats on social media.
Yang reached out to No Racism in Schools #1865, a group formed by the parents, after he heard about the threats, he said.
“We know that this is not a one-time isolated incident,” Yang said. “There’s an underlying problem.”
Yang, 44, is an entrepreneur who founded the nonprofit Venture for America in 2011 to help startup companies get on their feet. Despite being a lesser-known candidate, Yang says he’s polling at 3 percent and has the backing and funding to run in the 2020 Democratic primary. (Yang received 3 percent in a single poll conducted by Emerson Polling earlier this month, but has a 1.2 average in the Real Clear Politics polling averages.)
He spoke about his experience with racism as an Asian American and his proposals to cool racial tensions in the U.S. during a town hall at TC’s Rib Crib, 3655 S. Durango Drive, near Spring Mountain Road.
More than a dozen parents and community members crowded around a table in the center of the restaurant to ask Yang questions and make comments.
Yang said automation in service and manufacturing industries and job insecurity promotes a sense of “tribalism” in communities, which can in turn lead to race-based hate and discrimination. He proposes a “freedom dividend” of $1,000 per month for all adult citizens, funded by taxes on U.S.-based tech giants and other companies.
Yang said that money would provide financial security to struggling Americans and would stimulate local economies.
“If you make it so that everyone’s making money by investing in African-American businesses, then maybe some of that racial animus might disappear.”
He also talked about social media’s role in that sense of tribalism and the speed at which negative messages can be spread.
People at the town hall were receptive. They clapped, nodded and murmured in agreement when Yang spoke about universal health care, student loan forgiveness and the threat of white supremacy in the United States.
Akiko Cooks, co-founder of No Racism in Schools #1865, said the group’s goal is to launch a national campaign to support other parents who fight against racism in the school system.
Before the end of the town hall, she held up a poster showing the Instagram posts that started the controversy at Arbor View.
“The broom and the rug that have been used to sweep racism? We burned it,” Cooks said. “The conversation can get uncomfortable but it has to happen.”