OpEds | Thought Leadership | COVID, Publications, Austerity, White Supremacy

Austerity Is a Dog Whistle

It’s 2021, which marks the start of a new decade and a new presidency in the United States. A welcome change in tone and tenor, we are excited by the possibility of having a leader who openly acknowledges white supremacy as a flourishing threatthat must be addressed. As a nation, we watched in terror and heartbreak as a white supremacist insurgency took hold of our Capitol building on January 6. We hold the strong belief that all those who helped incite and aid the insurrection—including the legislators who chose to challenge election results and to stoke hatred—should face consequencesAttempting to block the votes of Black and brown people is also an act of racial violence. All of this is a painful reality that our children are witnessing and that demands accountability.

In fact, there is no path to unity without accountability for white supremacy within the halls of our government and throughout our country. And yet, we are now again in what feels like the neverending fight against austerity—another form of white supremacy violence. Despite the raging COVID pandemic, where an estimated 500,000 Americans will die by mid February, bipartisan legislatures are wringing their hands at the thought of providing much-needed extended cash support and resources to mitigate people’s suffering. Using familiar deficit hawkery politics to back up their flawed-and-failed thinking, they are more concerned with the price tag than the loss of human lives.

Make no mistake, austerity is a dog whistle. There is ample evidence that due to the systemic racism built into all of our institutions and systems, Black and brown communities are bearing the brunt of the economic and health consequences of COVID. Just take a look at the horrifying jobs reports that continue to show how Black and brown women are being pushed out of the labor market at a shocking rate, or that Black and brown renters are at higher risk of eviction, or the continual disproportionate death rate of COVID in Black and brown communities.

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