Two conversations dominate current American politics. The first is about growing and unchecked economic inequality and stagnation, which is driving anxiety, fear, and pain. The acrimonious 2016 presidential election is just the latest reflection of this anxiety, which has hit nearly every part of the electorate. The second conversation is focused on the consequences of not just decades, but generations, of laws and rules that have abetted structural racism, from redlining to Jim Crow.
But the economic and the race conversations, which for too long have been in separate silos, are inextricably linked. This is not only because creating more economic opportunity for people of color will drive growth. It is also because the way we think about economics today, and the way we think about race today, share the same flawed neoliberal intellectual roots, and thus are far more entwined than they might appear.
That is why the Roosevelt Institute is hosting an event, and releasing two papers, designed to bring these two conversations and two communities together. The papers are Rewrite the Racial Rules: Building an Inclusive American Economy and Untamed: How to Check Corporate, Financial, and Monopoly Power. While different in narrative scope, both explore the historical and policy factors at play in these systemic failures – and suggest agendas that will build an economy and a polity that work better for everyone.
Both reports can be seen in full Wednesday morning, when we are also hosting an event in Washington, DC. But right now, read these two excerpts, on ways to curb short-termism and what principles should guide the rewriting of the racial rules. Each is a great preview of the larger report.
In the end, this is a hopeful moment. We are beginning to see, and then reimagine, the rules that for too long have held us all back, but could, with enough work and enough will, drive true racial and economic progress.