Two weeks ago we had the amazing fortune to hear Dr. Darrick Hamilton speak, and join us here at NP, along with Meyer Memorial Trust to talk about advancing economic justice in Oregon. In case you missed it, you can watch a recording of the event.
Dr. Hamilton has been involved in crafting progressive policy proposals, such as Baby Bonds and a Federal Job Guarantee, which have garnered a great deal of media attention and served as inspirations for legislative proposals at the federal, state and local levels.
At the event, Dr. Hamilton made the case for inclusive economic rights as a pillar to achieve economic justice. Dr. Hamilton discussed his work in developing and researching progressive economic policies and suggested steps that Oregon can take in continuing to make meaningful systems change. Dr. Hamilton talked about the ways we might dismantle oppressive systems, and set up new ones that allow for equity and inclusion. He highlighted the need to disrupt systems that perpetuate racial disparities in financial well-being, including ending unequal treatment of individuals based on race, acknowledging the role of public and private systems and institutions in extracting land, labor, money, and other forms of wealth from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other communities of color. He shared his definition of economic justice as encompassing the ability to determine one’s own life, to participate in society fully, to have a baseline of resources for a meaningful standard of living, and being able to translate effort into outcomes.
Dr. Hamilton reflected on the policy choices that we make as a society, and allowing people to either live in poverty or for a few to become extremely wealthy are choices we make as a result of current systems and structures. He proposed an economic bill of rights that is inclusive, actively anti-racist, that centers people and belonging, and ensures all people are secure and stable even if they lose their livelihoods. He shared his perspective on universal basic income and his concern with it potentially being inequality enhancing versus a guaranteed income that could not only raise people out of poverty but eliminate it completely. He talked expansively about the role of the private, unions, non-profit organizations and government sectors. Dr. Hamilton challenged us all to commit to justice as a matter of faith and reminded us that is all we need because it’s the right thing to do. Dr. Hamilton ended his talk with some hope by reminding us the wins that have happened including providing direct cash to people and how our system is primed for new approaches and through collective action we can help advance economic justice.
Along with our partners at the Oregon Economic Justice Roundtable, we invite you all to join us to continue working to advance collective action on economic justice in Oregon. If you would like to learn more please reach out to Ethan Livermore for nonprofit organizations or Annette Case for funders.
We can’t share enough how appreciative we are of Dr. Hamilton, and his time with us. We look forward to continuing this relationship, and hope he’ll join us again in the future. In the meantime, watch the recording of the discussion! Thank you also to Nitya Wakhlu of Drawbridge Innovation for the amazing artwork which reflects the event.