Malaika Jabali always knew she wanted to use her voice and her legal skills to question societal norms that stood against marginalized voices. As a graduate of Columbia Law School and a licensed attorney, she put her passion for policy implementation toward creating a platform for change for herself and her community. Along with her work as the Senior News and Politics Editor at ESSENCE and her editorial presence in publications like Teen Vogue, The New Republic, Very Smart Brothas, Jacobin and The Guardian, she is now taking her message to another medium. Her first book, It’s Not You, It’s Capitalism: Why It’s Time to Break Up and How to Move On, debuting on October 24, is an illustrated guide to embracing socialism—with stories that center revolutionaries of color. In this excerpt, she shares reasons for us to dump capitalism like a toxic ex, once and for all.
Okay, we’re making progress. You left that abusive job and got a union position at a company that tries to share decision-making collectively and actually respects everyone’s time. You start getting over the past, being all healthy and going out more, running out of pages in your passport. And then BOOM. Your ex slides into your DMs. Again. It’s like they have an antenna that knows when you’ve gotten over them and gotten it together, and they whine about you going to places they think you don’t belong.
This is what all those ads decrying Medicare for All felt like during the 2020 election. They are the Drake in our lives, raising a fit because we’re trying to move on. We were bombarded with multimillion-dollar campaigns telling us that life couldn’t possibly be better with public health care—there would be no choice and no freedom!—precisely because so many people were finally so over America’s current for-profit health care system.
Even while pundits have always framed Medicare for All as a radical idea, in the 2020 Democratic primary in South Carolina (a state widely known for its radical-left revolutionaries and communists), more voters supported “replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone” than those who opposed it.
The idea of free, government-funded health care is growing in popularity. But as with many of our social services, we can only have good things in limited ways or in temporary spurts, with the ever-looming threat that they will end. Probably like how Jimmy Brooks felt when his basketball dreams were dashed halfway into the season (but maybe we can eventually get that good Dutch health care and piece it back together, like Jimmy did in those later Degrassi seasons?).
We’re not lacking universal, free public health care in order to teach us all “personal responsibility.” The government’s reason for limiting our social safety net is often framed this way, as if we are children without self-control who need a gazillion-dollar hospital bill and a “choice” of insurers to be real adults (even though most people have no real choice—their employers likely offer one insurance provider and two or three plans, tops. Oh, and the unemployed are screwed, obviously).
Single-payer health care is one way to ensure everyone has access to necessary services under one plan. As the Black Panther Party put it in their program platform back in March of 1972, “We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities that will not only treat our illnesses, most of which are a result of our oppression, but that will also develop preventative medical programs to -guarantee our future survival.” It’s way past time.
Excerpted from It’s Not You, It’s Capitalism: Why It’s Time to Break Up and How to Move On, by Malaika Jabali. Copyright © 2023. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books. Illustration by Kayla E. All rights reserved. Jabali wrote policy as a Senior Counsel of the New York City Council. Her first politics feature, “The Color of Economic Anxiety,” published in Current Affairs magazine, won a 2019 New York Association of Black Journalists Award.
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