Black Lives Matter. It is time to act to repair the generations of harm and inequity that is the legacy of slavery in the United States, and the legacy of ongoing structures that divert and strip wealth from the Black community. As the New York Times Magazine said this past weekend, it is time for Reparations.
We are all living on stolen land. Oregon has been home for generations on end of tribal communities. The land under all of our feet was either stolen or a sale was forced after war and sickness and deprivation made a sale seem like the best choice. As I write this, I sit on the land of the Cowlitz and Clackamas peoples.
What’s next? How do we take these next steps towards equity and justice?
In addition to the steps we take to address our own actions and beliefs, moving towards justice requires more. We need big, bold, more systemic responses that will have profound impacts.
At Neighborhood Partnerships, we are eager to engage in conversations with communities of color to hear what priorities emerge, and how that translates into an economic justice agenda. We know that tools exist, and that economic modeling has been done, on tools such as unconditional cash transfers, children’s savings accounts, baby bonds, down payment assistance, and many others. Whatever the specifics, we need a multi-prong, multi-year strategy and investment plan.
We need to focus resources on the communities that most need benefit. We need to demand better data on how public resources benefit (or don’t benefit) communities, using data that is disaggregated by race and ethnicity to the greatest specificity possible. Progressive policies aren’t enough if we aren’t delivering results. Not having data is a failure of will and effort. If we don’t have good data, we need to figure out how to get it.
We need to address the disinvestment we have allowed to happen. The lack of water on the Warm Springs reservation. The lack of tribal housing in the Columbia River Gorge after years of promises. The stark differences in wealth between Black households and white. These are things that we know how to fix – we just need to do them.
We need to hold ourselves and one another, and most importantly our elected representatives and public servants, responsible for outcomes. We need to look at where benefits are accruing, where predators and policies are actively stripping wealth from families and communities, and where we are failing to meet community needs.
We need to do better. It’s time.