While social inequality runs rampant in the United States, systemic racism makes the issue catastrophic to communities of color. While our nation has historically oppressed black and brown Americans and deprived them of the means to build wealth, recent history has erased what little progress has been made on this front.
The impact of the 2008 financial crisis was particularly brutal to these communities: black and hispanic households lost 50% of their wealth on average, compared to 30% of white households.
To begin setting this injustice right, we have to recognize that black Americans have faced myriad barriers to achieving the kind of life that has always been available to white people in this country. We need to directly target communities of color with a program to restore the opportunities and justice that were denied to them, either in 2008 or in preceding centuries. To truly allow communities of color to flourish, we need to provide them with the tools they need to open businesses and create jobs themselves. While plenty of politicians brag about “creating jobs,” the jobs they bring are often short term and precarious.
Why not instead provide ultra-low interest loans, through a postal banking system, to individuals who want to open small businesses where they live? Restoring store fronts in communities of color would create many more jobs than simply attracting a multinational corporation to build a plant, and would create a more permanent way for wealth to remain in a single community.
And to augment this plan for economic justice, we will also call for a restoration of democracy in these areas by enacting Automatic Voter Registration and simplifying the convoluted process felons must go through to regain their voting rights.
Anyone who lives in central Arkansas, particularly in Little Rock, can see the disastrous effects of systemic racism and economic oppression. Instead of creating equity for all people, we have thrown up interstates as barriers and creating social and economic barriers to communities of color
As we come to terms with the racial injustice that has long been a fact of life in America, it is time for us to rise together and catalyze the political power of a united people to fight for an economic system rooted in justice.