Racial Justice

The best way to advance policies to raise living standards for working people is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not. Since class identity has often been racialized, one of the greatest challenges to rebuilding the economic power of the working class lies in establishing multiracial solidarity on a national scale. It is important to remember that the same special interest groups that fund the opposition to policies such as the minimum wage and paid sick leave, and that support efforts to undermine collective bargaining power, are often the same ones aligned with support of voter suppression tactics that limit voting among people of color, low-income individuals, students, seniors, and people with disabilities. The best way to advance the needed economic policies is for diverse groups to recognize that they share more in common than not and work together to achieve their overlapping and intersecting agendas. Getting to that point requires honesty and a collective reckoning about race, white privilege, and institutional racism, with respect to the costs and benefits to each of us.

Advancing policies that address persistent racial disparities while also tackling class inequality will require abandoning the zero-sum mindset that says one group’s set of issues is totally distinct from and in direct competition with another’s. Overcoming this trap begins with defining a broader view of how all the issues are related. It will take a considerable amount of ongoing effort to shift the dominant narrative from one that divides the masses to one that creates a new world of possibilities that benefits all of us.

Publications

Washington’s Tax Code is an Untapped Resource to Advance Racial Justice

Through decades of laws and policy decisions, Washington’s elected leaders have created a tax code that is the most upsidedown, or regressive, in the nation, meaning that those with low incomes pay a much higher share of their income in taxes compared to the wealthiest. In other words, Washington’s tax policies favor certain people based on their income and wealth, while continuing to hold low- and middle-income people back.

This brief addresses the question: How and to what extent does a person’s race and ethnicity determine how Washington’s upside-down tax code impacts them?

Race in the Heartland: Equity, Opportunity, and Public Policy in the Midwest

A half-century removed from the high-tide of the civil rights movement, progress on racial equity has slowed or stalled on many fronts. Nowhere is this more starkly evident than in the twelve states of the Midwest region, where racial disparities in economic opportunity and economic outcomes are wider than they are in other regions, and policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager. Race in the Heartland: Equity, Opportunity, and Public Policy in the Midwest examines the roots of those racial disparities, documents their extent and impact, and proposes a range of policy solutions.

Education in Georgia’s Black Belt: Policy Solutions to Help Overcome a History of Exclusion

Georgia has a constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate and equitable education for all its citizens. The state’s history has seen this obligation selectively applied based on a student’s race, family income and ability. It is worth analyzing if school districts that operate in Georgia’s Black Belt, the location of generations of enslaved labor, are currently being given a square deal. This report displays how communities within the Black Belt were and are systematically disadvantaged compared to the rest of the state of Georgia, and what it might look like to support those affected by systemic discrimination and exclusion.

Beyond Kentucky’s low unemployment rate: How workers are really faring this Labor Day?

Op-Ed: “The longest economic recovery on record and a state unemployment rate of 4.3% sounds like a strong foundation for Kentuckians’ prosperity. But a close look at the numbers this Labor Day shows an economy in which many Kentucky communities still lack jobs, especially quality jobs families need to thrive.”