Structural racism places the burden of proposed budget cuts on people of color

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
The Urban Institute

"What drives economic inequity?

Discrimination in the labor market has resulted in the exclusion of African Americans and Latinos from many good job opportunities, even when they are as qualified as white applicants. Occupational segregation has also contributed to these groups being disproportionately concentrated in jobs that do not provide wealth-producing benefits, such as retirement savings, paid leave, health and disability insurance, and education benefits.

When work hours shrink or jobs disappear, families of color have fewer resources to fall back on. Research contradicts the premise that lower levels of economic gains for families of color compared with white families are because of individual deficits or a lack of personal responsibility. A long history of policies, regulations, court rulings, and institutional practices have used race to convey economic advantages to white Americans while undermining economic gains by people of color over US history.  

More recent policies such as redlining and racially restrictive covenants used by the Federal Housing Administration restricted loans to families in neighborhoods with predominantly people of color and prevented the sale of white-owned homes to African Americans. More recently, communities of color were targeted by predatory lenders to receive subprime loans even when they qualified for prime loans, leading to the loss of their homes or a substantial share of their net worth.

When people of color propel themselves along the path for achieving the American Dream, even in the face of such systemic barriers, the economic return is substantially less than that for white people. For instance, white adults who don’t graduate from high school, have children before marriage, and don’t work full time still enjoy much greater median wealth than comparable African American and Latino adults. These same white adults often have more wealth than African American and Latino families who have married and completed some college and about the same wealth as families of color with a full-time worker."

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