This article is the third article in our series—The Promise of Targeted Universalism: Community Leaders Respond—that NPQ is publishing in partnership with the national economic justice advocacy network Prosperity Now. In this series, writers will examine how targeted universalism—a narrative framework that advocates the use of targeted approaches to achieve universal goals—can inform efforts to close the racial wealth gap, community by community.
To say that African Americans and Latinos need economic equity, doesn’t mean that the strategies we need for each group are going to be exactly the same. Unless we talk about those differences and use them to drive the strategy that makes sense, we are not going to get at what we need to do. —Manuel Pastor
Amid the upheaval caused by a global pandemic and the many inequities it has laid bare, the US finds itself at an inflection point. Before the nation lies a unique opportunity to build a more inclusive and equitable society. If the moment is not seized, the damage that follows could be irreparable.
The horrors of the past decade—family separation, immigrant children in cages, the countless murder of Black Americans captured on tape, the profiling of Muslim Americans (perceived or otherwise), hate crimes against Asian Americans, ongoing violation of Native lands, a failed response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, among others—have pushed increasing numbers of Americans to recognize that our current systems are failing us, and that radical change is necessary.
This growing understanding has created a rare opportunity to address centuries of structural inequality and design a system that works for far more people. Yet, the road to racial and ethnic economic justice will vary for different communities based on their unique needs; so too must policies, investments, and other interventions.
The notion of targeted universalism, I believe, offers a compelling approach for addressing racial and ethnic economic inequities in a way that is inclusive and sensitive to a complex reality. It offers people of all backgrounds and identities an opportunity to achieve universal goals through strategies that are targeted and customized to their diverse needs.
As a multie
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