Developing a network of government focusing on racial equality is critically important to getting different outcomes in our communities. The goal must be beyond closing the gap; we must establish appropriate benchmarks that lifts up all the populations while paying close attention to those that are excluded. Implementing strategies to “close the gaps” from this perspective has been called “targeted universalism”, meaning improvements for all groups. Advancing equity moves us beyond just focusing on disparities. Deeply racialized systems are costly and depress outcomes and life chances for all groups.
1.) Although there are a disproportionate number of youth of color who don’t graduate from high school, there are many white students as well. We have seen strategies that work for youth of color also work better for white youth, a truly systematic approach.
2.) Disproportionately in the criminal justice system are devastating for communities of color, mostly African-American men, but are financially destructive and unsubstantial for all of us. Dramatically reduced incarceration rates and reinvesting funds in education can work to our collective benefit.
3.) When voting was/is constrained for black and brown voters, low-income white voters are likely to be excluded too. During the period of poll taxes and literacy tests, more eligible whites were prohibited from voting than blacks.
The goal is not to eliminate the gap between whites and blacks, but to increase the success of all groups. Racial equity develops goals and outcomes that will result in improvements for all groups, but the strategies are targeted based on the needs of a particular group. Systems that are failing communities of color, are actually failing us all. Targeted universalism will increase our collective success AND be cost effective.
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