Economic Security


Racial equity work on economic security includes attention to wealth and poverty. Economic security is also sometimes defined as the distribution of opportunities such that individuals can meet their current basic needs, and are reasonably likely to be able to meet those needs in the future. Economic security crosses multiple issue areas, institutions and systems. For example, as described by the ILO (the International Labor Organization of the United Nations), economic security “is composed of basic social security, defined by access to basic needs infrastructure pertaining to health, education, dwelling, information, social protection and work-related security.”  

This definition is helpful in two ways. First, it suggests some of the systems and institutions where there might be entry points for changing opportunities, policies and structures towards more equitable economic security. Second, the wording does not imply a particular set of assumptions about the mix of individual, governmental, corporate or other responsibilities for creating economic security—thus opening up the imagination beyond a particular set of cultural narratives. One way to understand racism is to note that racism is the condition by which the racial/ethnic group to which one is sorted creates both unequal opportunities, and unequal consequences for similar actions. The interaction of those is powerful in providing unearned advantages to whites as a group, and unearned disadvantages to people of color as a group, and differently for different groups of color. Therefore, the entry points for taking action can include the distribution of opportunities and the equalizing of consequences for the same actions.

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