By Anne Price, President
Originally published in Insight Center’s May 2017 Newsletter.
Before the Great Recession and the Occupy Wall Street movement, leading minds on economic issues came together from diverse communities of color to set an audacious goal: closing the racial wealth gap. It was a bold proclamation not just in its enormity, but also because an intentional focus on race and wealth inequality represented a significant departure from greater calls for class-not-race interventions at the time.
The call to close the racial wealth gap drew upon the pioneering work of numerous researchers and thought leaders. These pioneers got it right when they claimed that racial wealth inequality is not a natural occurrence or a law of nature, but a man-made choice.
From the Homestead Act to the G.I. Bill to Social Security, millions of people were locked out of opportunity due to a legacy of intentional and inadvertent policies that not only restricted communities of color from building wealth, but also facilitated the extraction of wealth from people of color to directly benefit Whites. The result has been ever-widening wealth differences between Whites and people of color that ultimately weaken democratic institutions, lower wages for all workers, undermine public health outcomes, and contribute to the disinvestment of entire communities.
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