Black Women Best

September 18, 2020

The framework we need for an equitable economy.

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

Black Women Best

Few have been harmed more by the COVID-19 crisis than Black women, who remain unemployed at far higher levels than white men and women eight months into the pandemic. Unfortunately, that mirrors history: As ProPublica’s Ava Kofman and Hannah Fresques reported recently, Black workers have been more likely to be unemployed and less likely to receive unemployment benefits today and in past recessions. 

In a new issue brief co-published by Roosevelt and Groundwork Collaborative, Kendra Bozarth, Grace Western, and Janelle Jones propose a policy framework that would both rectify those inequities and strengthen the economy for all: “Black women best.” Expanding on a phrase and concept coined by Jones, “Black women best” means that if Black women can thrive as the most discriminated against and exploited group in the US, then everyone can. And for Black women to thrive, we need policies that center their priorities, boost short-term recovery, and build more equitable institutions—from single-payer health care to automatic stabilizers tied to Black unemployment rates. Read on.

  • Another angle: “The unfortunate thing is that when our policymakers are proposing policies to deal with an economic and cyclical downturn, their approach is always a colorblind one, even under Obama,” economist Michelle Holder tells Vox. “Those calling for the scaling back, for the elimination of unemployment insurance, are missing the reality, which is in this country, the burden of the recession is not equally distributed.”


A President Could Cancel Student Debt

On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a resolution outlining how a president could use executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt for millions of Americans. That resolution builds on Roosevelt’s Student Debt Forgiveness Options: Implications for Policy and Racial Equity, which finds that “debt forgiveness at levels from $10,000 up to $50,000 would have broad reach” and “profound impacts for the asset security of Black households overall, who would experience substantial relative wealth gains.” Learn more.


Join the Conversation

Next week, join Roosevelt experts for two webinars spotlighting the politics, policies, and possibilities of this moment and beyond.

The Wealth Tax: Good Policy, Good Politics

  • Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 1:00pm
  • Featuring Data for Progress Co-Founder & Executive Director Sean McElwee and Roosevelt Forward Managing Director of Corporate Power Bharat Ramamurti

What Will It Take to Build an Inclusive Economy in the COVID-19 Era? 

  • Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 3:00pm
  • Featuring Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, Roosevelt President & CEO Felicia Wong, and Roosevelt Fellow Darrick Hamilton


What We’re Reading

Study: Inequality Robs $2.5 Trillion from US Workers Each YearNew York Magazine

Top Economists Stiglitz and Piketty: The US Needs a Wealth Tax on Millionaires and Billionaires – CNBC

America’s Eviction Epidemic [feat. Stiglitz]New York Review of Books

Diversity Push Barely Budges Corporate Boards to 12.5%, Survey FindsNew York Times

Coronavirus Drained Black, Latino, and Native Americans’ Savings Way More Than White People’s – Vice

Our Call to Reimagine Capitalism in America. – Omidyar Network

11 Ways to Fix America’s Fundamentally Broken Democracy – Vox

El-Erian, Stiglitz, Krugman and Other Top Economists Offer Insights on the Future of Supply Chains