Even before the deadly COVID-19 pandemic swept America, the Black-white wealth gap remained stubbornly vast. The crisis is driving the gap to historic levels.
Certainly, the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment. That such legislation has become law — that our federal government acted decisively with a bill targeted to aid low and middle-income families — evokes equal parts inspiration and relief in its radical departure from previous trickle down approaches that have increased inequality and racial injustice.
The Rescue Plan is a desperately needed life preserver for countless Americans, but what does it mean to be pulled from treacherous waters onto a leaking ship? As the end of the pandemic appears on the horizon and the federal government, states and localities rightfully deploy their fiscal resources to move the country forward, we must ensure that those resources move beyond plugging holes in our American vessel and ensure we are not headed towards the same inequitable and unjust outcomes we left in 2019.
As the Washington Post reported in June 2020, “in 1968, a typical middle-class Black household had $6,674 in wealth compared with $70,786 for the typical middle-class white household.” In a stark illustration of how little progress had been made, the same Post article cited data from the Historical Survey of Consumer Finances indicating that in 2016 the typical middle-class Black family had $13,024 in wealth compared with white families who had $149,703.
We need bold policies to change this trajectory. Since stimulus packages have long been effective tools to catalyze pr
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