Reigniting a National Reckoning

June 17, 2022

This Juneteenth, policymakers must take action.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

Juneteenth and the Fight Ahead

This Sunday, two years after the largest protests in US history, Juneteenth will be celebrated as a federal holiday for the second time.

It comes at a moment of intense racial backlash. Republican state legislatures have devoted their time and resources to banning the teaching of systemic racism. Formerly fringe white supremacist conspiracies have found a home in mainstream media outlets, and fueled anti-Black violence and murder. Pro-insurrection politicians continue to win support, even as the horrors of January 6 become more vivid with each congressional hearing.

But as Roosevelt’s Kyle Strickland and Shahrzad Shams argue, this Juneteenth can also reignite the national reckoning of summer 2020—if policymakers rise to this moment.

“Recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday is certainly an important cultural milestone in US history. But at the federal level, policymakers must move beyond symbolic gestures and take action,” they write.

“They must guarantee robust voting rights. They must pass transformative legislation and structural policy change focused on building economic power for Black and brown communities. And they must combat white supremacist violence by holding perpetrators accountable.”

Read more in “Juneteenth: Reckoning, Backlash, and the Fight Ahead.”


Clean Energy Neoliberalism

“[Y]ou cannot address climate change if you are not also going to address environmental justice and climate justice,” Roosevelt’s Rhiana Gunn-Wright told the Washington Post this week. 

“Because otherwise you are just leaving in place essentially the landscape that can again be exploited . . . . You are still leaving the tracks for the next crisis to come.”

The transition to renewable energy must combat the racist legacies entrenched in our current fossil fuel–based system. 

But as Roosevelt’s Lew Daly and Just Solutions Collective’s Sylvia Chi explore in a new issue brief, the primary climate policy being discussed by the Biden administration—energy tax credits—represents the continuation of a neoliberal approach to driving the energy transition, one that still relies on market choices and private incentives. 

“The energy tax credit proposal currently on the table does not directly address racial inequities in the current energy system or in the clean energy transition because it is not meant to do so,” Daly and Chi write.

“It is an individualistic, status quo policy that is very likely to perpetuate or even worsen systemic disparities and inequities inherited from the fossil fuel economy.”

Read on in “Clean Energy Neoliberalism: Climate, Tax Credits, and Racial Justice,” and catch up on the rest of our All Economic Policy Is Climate Policy series.


Join the Conversation

On Tuesday, June 28, at noon ET, join us for a discussion building on the themes of the All Economic Policy Is Climate Policy series.

The virtual talk will be moderated by Hot Take’s Amy Westervelt, with an expert panel including Gunn-Wright and the New Republic climate reporter Kate Aronoff.

Register now.


What We’re Reading

Why the Racial Wealth Gap Is So Hard To Close [feat. Roosevelt’s William Darity Jr.] – NPR Planet Money

The Right Way to Bring Down New Yorkers’ Electric Bills [co-authored by Roosevelt’s Niko Lusiani] New York Daily News

A Law Meant to Boost America’s Security Becomes Industrial Policy [feat. Roosevelt’s Todd N. Tucker] [paywall]The Economist

Why Canceling Student Debt Should Be a Universal BenefitThe Nation