The GI Bill was instrumental (in addition to the central planning industrialization and unionization of America that happened during World War 2) in creating the modern American middle class, and its racist implementation yet another serious impediment to equality and justice in America. There are generations of people that followed in the wake of the GI Bill – such as myself – who are able to build on the wealth and resources of what my parents and grandparents were able to build thanks to the Bill, and those are precisely the resources that were denied black Americans.
The American history of white supremacy is an ugly one, and it has lots of manifestations: the GI Bill implementation, red-lining, highway routing, Jim Crow laws, the abandonment of Reconstruction… and what’s interesting to me is that I figure that the financial impacts are probably the longest-running and most pernicious and damaging manifestations. Seeing old photos of lynchings are obvious and brutal in their testament to inequality and the cruelty of the past, but because they’re so obviously awful and public, they’re much easier to discount: “well, there hasn’t been a lynching like THAT in decades”. And in some sense, that’s true. Blacks have been voting on equal terms (or near-equal terms, depending on your state’s laws regarding districting and IDs) for decades… and yet and it isn’t like Baltimore or Montgomery or Charlotte have been transformed into bastions of black freedom because of it.
Meanwhile, the financial effects chug along. They’re hidden, but their impacts go on for decades.