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.


Black Lives Matter & Anti-Racist Resources

  • June 1, 2020

Statement from EARN and EPI

All of us at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) are angered and deeply saddened by the police murder of George Floyd, and so many other senseless deaths in the Black community—incidents rooted in a long history of anti-Blackness in our nation.

This is a horrible moment for our nation—and a moment that challenges each of us to commit to lasting change.

The racism that led to these tragic and unnecessary deaths has also created tragic economic disparities between Black and white people in the United States, a reality that the pandemic has magnified and laid bare.

EPI’s staff knows this all too well. For more than 30 years, EPI researchers have used the tools of economic analysis and empirical research to expose the truth about the glaring and growing inequality in the United States impacting working families—disparities that are disproportionately experienced by Black people.

Exposing and understanding the root causes of the systemic racism, inequities, and injustice in the U.S. economy is a necessary precondition for developing, advocating for, and ultimately implementing policy solutions adequate to the scale and scope of the problem.

We have all been shaken by recent events, which are bound by a common thread of bigotry woven throughout U.S. history. We all know that derailing racism is the only way to ensure that all Black people are able to live the supposed American dream, not the American nightmare we are witnessing now.

—The Economic Policy Institute staff 

Originally posted here.

EARN members’ statements:  

A selection of EPI resources and webinars on systemic anti-black racism through an economic policy lens: 

To explore more EPI resources on race and the economy, you can take a look at the videos and podcast episodes available on our website and YouTube channelIn particular, you can watch the recordings of the Program on Race Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE) workshop seriesTurning Good Intentions into Constructive Engagement on Race. 

  1. Basic Principles for Constructive Engagement on Race 
  2. Race and Ethnicity in Empirical Analysis 
  3. Building Effective Partnerships with Racial Justice-Focused Advocates and Activists 
  4. Contemporary Social Issues and the Native American Experience in the United States 
  5. Contemporary Social Issues and the Asian American Experience in the United States 
  6. Contemporary Social Issues & the African American Experience 

Contextualizing the murder of George Floyd and other black Americans murdered by police, the Black Lives Matter movement, and systemic racism in the United States:  

Tools for being anti-racist: 

  • Excellent guides from the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on talking about race and being anti-racist. The museum has a host of online resources that are worth exploring. 
  • So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo: A guide for having constructive conversations about race that are aimed at making long-lasting change 
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson and  
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi: A history of racist ideas in America. A retelling of American history that focuses on the ways that racist and assimilationist ideas and philosophies have shaped our country. The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic) 

Relevant Research and Publications from EARN Members:

Black policy matters: Toward an antiracist policy agenda

“There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.”

(Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist, August 13, 2019)

Since 2000, Policy Matters Ohio has provided an essential voice in Ohio’s policy debate. We do our best to make the case for good jobs, strong neighborhoods and smart solutions to complex problems, that support communities and help working families get ahead. But that’s not enough. If we want to build an Ohio that works for everyone, the policies we advance must be antiracist. Below we share with you the policy areas we know can bend the arc of history toward social and economic justice for African Americans in Ohio.

Black Workers Matter: How the District’s History of Exploitation & Discrimination Continues to Harm Black Workers

The District’s economy is strong on a number of important indicators such as employment, job growth, and increased wages, but the overall trends mask staggering racial inequalities. The District’s deep history of exploitation and discrimination against Black workers—including stolen labor when DC was a hub for slavery, restrictions of free Black workers to the lowest-paid jobs, federal government job discrimination through much of the 20th century, and exclusion of many Black workers from New Deal labor laws—led to present-day racial disparities in many employment-related metrics including occupations, wages, employment levels, benefits, and opportunities to grow wealth.

The differences in employment and income opportunities between Black DC residents and white DC residents are stark. Black residents are seven times as likely as white residents to be unemployed, despite actively looking for work, which cannot be attributed to differences in education or skills-training alone. Similarly, vast racial wealth differences cannot be explained by education, employment, or income alone. Black workers have been excluded from wealth-building opportunities such as homeownership, high-paying jobs and high-value business ownership. This report documents many of these disparities.

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?