Racial Equity

It is tempting to think, based on the mainstream U.S. narrative about race, that racial inequity is a problem of the past. However, the overwhelming weight of evidence makes it clear that racial inequities are still present, and are still being created by current systems, institutions, policies and laws. The socially constructed reality called 'race' is still one of the strongest predictors, in a statistical sense, of how groups of people fare in terms of wealth, health, education and many other aspects of life. Even in this era of high-profile (and, in some cases, historic) success stories at the individual level, the legacy of racially discriminatory laws and policies (for example, redlining, exclusion from the GI Bill) continues to have a profound impact (for example, on wealth accumulation through inheritance based on unequal opportunities for home ownership, access to higher education and in many other ways). There are also many current institutional and government policies that, if left unchecked, will only increase what are already oppressive inequalities (e.g. credit-worthiness ratings that value assets above earnings, or an inability to get some school and health care related jobs because of prior involvement in juvenile justice systems driven in part by racial profiling, etc.). Simply put, the problem is real, and unless active measures are taken to change the systems that continue to fuel it, racial inequities will persist and widen. To start to pivot, one might imagine what a racially equitable world would look like – what kinds of laws and policies are in place? Do people relate to each other differently? What are the stories and impressions formed by mass media or popular culture? How do these core structures and cultural messages promote racial equity and how do we know?

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