How Racial Inequity Shapes All Aspects of American Society
Structural racial inequity intersects with every social challenge in America, both through intentional discrimination strategies, or as a result of unintentional unconscious biases. The end result is that social challenges disproportionately harm communities of color, while simultaneously excluding them from social benefits.
Consider how race and racial inequity or disparities might show up in the outcomes of your existing investments and strategy, from education, to the arts, to climate change. For example, who is or is not able to benefit from your investments, and why? How might investments have unintended negative consequences for certain communities?
Visit our Racial Equity Library for a growing list of resources on this topic as it relates to impact investing.
Red-Lining: Systematic Racial Discrimination in Place
America's Growing Racial Wealth Gap
Median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053 and median Latino household wealth is projected to hit zero twenty years later. Median White household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053.
Even earning a middle-class income does not guarantee a family middle-class economic security, according to the report. White households in the middle income quintile—those earning $37,201-61,328 annually—own nearly eight times as much wealth ($86,100) as Black middle-income earners ($11,000) and ten times that of their Latino counterparts ($8,600).
In the early 1980s, rising unemployment, declining unionization, and policies such as the failure to raise the minimum wage and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws contributed to the growing wage gap.
In the late 1990s, the gap shrank due in part to tighter labor markets, which made discrimination more costly, and increases in the minimum wage.
Since 2000 the gap has grown again. As of 2015, relative to the average hourly wages of White men with the same education, experience, metro status, and region of residence, Black men make 22.0 percent less, and Black women make 34.2 percent less than White mean and 11.7 percent less than White women.
All-In Nation, a book by the Center for American Progress and PolicyLink, provides an in-depth analysis on how and why racial inequity is bad for America and build groundwork for federal policies that can create a more equitable economy and nation. The policy chapters— described below— span a wide range of topics, from public infrastructure, to just jobs, to education, immigration policy, criminal justice, and more. They are introduced with personal essays from writers including Geoffrey Canada, who writes a moving account of why every child deserves to succeed, and jurist and activist Michelle Alexander, who discusses how her own treatment of a young black man changed the way she thought about criminal justice and race.
- "Infrastructure: Supporting Communities So All Can Thrive” explains the importance of modernizing our public infrastructure system so that communities of color are not left lacking the basics that many Americans take for granted.
- “Jobs, Income and Assets: Economic Security for All” argues that national economic growth relies on individuals having enough money to cover basic needs— today and for their future. Yet economic security has become increasingly elusive for too many Americans, particularly for people of color.
- “Building Healthy Communities for a Healthy Nation” explores how geography is destiny in America. Due to historic racism, the neighborhoods where people of color live tend to have fewer resources promoting good health—including grocery stores and quality health care. They also have more detrimental resources, such as liquor stores and pollution sources, that lead to preventable health problems.
- “Education and Job Readiness for a Prosperous America” warns that America's failing and inequitable education system will ultimately weaken its competitive edge in the global economy.
- “Americans in Waiting: An Immigration System that Works” describes the central role that immigrants play in America's economy. In addition to exploring the nation’s flawed immigration system and paths to citizenship, the chapter discusses the treatment of legal immigrants and new citizens.
- “Locked-Up Potential” describes the magnitude of injustice in the nation’s broken criminal justice system, including racial disenfranchisement associated with mass incarceration and how corrections spending diverts money from our hospitals, universities, and more.
- “Democratic Participation and Leadership in a Diverse Nation” describes how communities of color, including immigrants, face barriers to democratic participation that prevent them from helping to shape our institutions of governance.