Racial Wage Gap

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

The State of Black Families in Rhode Island

Our latest report provides details about key economic and social indicators for Black families in the Ocean State and documents the disparities with their White counterparts. Making sure all Rhode Islanders have access to good jobs that allow them to provide for themselves and their families is vital for our state’s future.

 

This report shines a bright light on continued disparities, laying the foundation for a concerted public policy response to redress historical wrongs through proactive public policy solutions.

When Work is Not Enough: Toward Better Policy to Support Wisconsin’s Working Families

  • May 11, 2017
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Javier Rodriguez, and Mel Meder.

In Wisconsin, policy makers seem to increasingly assume that work, and work alone, can provide a decent standard of living. However, working families continue to face a slew of challenges – low wages, inadequate benefits, insufficient hours – generated by the very jobs that are supposed to be the answer. This report highlights the disconnect between state policies and the realities of Wisconsin families working in jobs at or near the poverty line.

Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity 2017

  • January 12, 2017
  • COWS
  • Laura Dresser, Javier Rodriguez S.

Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation in terms of racial equality. Various aspects of the disparity – from education to jobs and income to incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. These disparities are gaining increasing attention from activists and policy makers. Even so, and despite considerable local and statewide efforts to close these gaps, too few in Wisconsin understand the way that Wisconsin’s level of racial inequality is, in fact, dramatically more pronounced than in other states.

Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity seeks to support and fuel the efforts of so many who are organizing, strategizing and working to close the gap.