USA Today: How to shrink the wealth gap for minorities and everyone else while we study reparations

USA Today, April 29, 2019: How to shrink the wealth gap for minorities and everyone else while we study reparations

Economic inequality is perhaps the most significant issue animating the upcoming presidential race. After four decades of economic polarization, there’s growing debate about how to put ordinary Americans back on a secure footing. And there’s growing consensus among Democrats that to recharge the middle-class American economy, once the envy of the world, we’re going to have to confront our enormous racial wealth divide.

Reparations — some form of restitution for the centuries of discrimination suffered by black Americans — are becoming almost a litmus test for 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Sen. Kamala Harris, asked about the issue last week at a CNN town hall, pointed to the ongoing impacts of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination and segregation. “To believe or suggest that those years of treatment and abuse and violence and crimes did not have an impact is to overlook the facts of history,” she said. While she demurred on endorsing reparations payouts, other candidates have offered tentative support.

Reparations need to be part of any discussion about healing the racial wealth divide, but some politicians remain wary of lingering opposition to the idea. Fortunately, this discussion also includes policies that can shrink the racial wealth divide while turning around our regressive economy for all Americans.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is chief of equity and inclusion at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and co-edits Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. They are co-authors of “Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide.” Follow them on Twitter: @DedrickM and @chuck99to1

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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