Beyond Black History Month

February 28, 2020

Centering Blackness to dismantle racism.

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top stories of the week.

Why Reparations Are a National Debt

Previewing their forthcoming book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century, Roosevelt Senior Fellow Sandy Darity and folklorist Kirsten Mullen write for the blog that only a comprehensive reparations program can achieve redistributive justice for Black Americans—and that only the federal government can get it done. “The specific case for reparations for black American descendants of US slavery is predicated on 1) the cumulative damages of slavery; 2) nearly a century-long epoch of legal segregation (known as the Jim Crow era) and white terrorism; and 3) the ongoing harms of racialized mass incarceration, police executions of unarmed blacks, credit, housing, and employment discrimination, as well as the enormous racial wealth gap,” they write. “We must emphasize: Black reparations are not a matter of personal or singular institutional guilt; black reparations are a matter of national responsibility.” Read on.

  • Another angle: “Darity, who has enlisted other Black academics and activists in what he calls a ‘Reparations Planning Committee,’ said a comprehensive reparations program should raise the Black share of the nation’s wealth to the Black share of the nation’s population. That will require increasing Black wealth by at least $10 trillion, he said.” Read more from the Washington Post.

Centering Blackness in the 2020 Debate

“Darrick Hamilton has become the wonk for this political moment because of his talent for quietly reframing the conversation,” Kara Voght writes in a Mother Jones profile on the Roosevelt fellow. “The work of Hamilton and fellow economists in quantifying the racial wealth gap has given progressives in the 2020 field a grammar for talking about inequality, one that has long eluded the Democrats. Is the country’s most pernicious division one of class or race? For the first time in more than half a century, the putative party of the worker and of Black rights has begun to figure out where it stands on the question, with Hamilton helping to direct it toward the answer: Yes.” Read on.

  • Beyond the gap: “If we focus on the structural, then we can think about [racial wealth inequality] beyond just the pure financial measure of looking at a dollar amount, but rather focusing on all the kinds of less-tangible areas that wealth bestows,” Roosevelt Fellow Anne Price tells CityLab, “such as allowing us greater kinds of decision-making and less-constrained choices, which enables us to live much more dignified lives.” Read more.

The Racism of Neoliberalism

Strategic racism stoked the neoliberal revolution, Darrick Hamilton and the Kirwan Institute’s Kyle Strickland argue in a piece for Evonomics. “. . . an honest and sobering confession of our historical sins, accompanied with redress, would counter the neoliberal frame that characterizes Black, brown and poor people as ‘undeserving,’ and, instead, pave the way for narratives that accurately frame inequality and poverty as grounded in resource deprivation and exploitation.” Read more.

What We’re Reading

11 Charts That Track the Progress America Has Made in Racial Equality—and All the Visceral Ways We Still Have Left to Go – Business Insider

The Case for Accelerating Financial Inclusion in Black Communities – McKinsey & Company

Where Might Trumpism Take Us? – New York Times

Under Trump, Income Growth Slows across US – Capital & Main

Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America – Adam Cohen

Soak-the-Rich Tax Plans Take Hold in the Entire Democratic Field – Bloomberg

How Swing Voters Feel about Medicare-for-All – Vox

We’re All on This Sick Planet Together – New Republic