This essay1 provides an overview of our open-source, searchable repository of policy-based recommendations for addressing structural and systemic racism or advancing racial equity drawn from a vast array of published material. For the repository and analysis, this project reviewed twenty-five scholarly books, twenty-seven reports, several web-based organizational policy platforms, and virtually the entire range of materials of 2020 presidential campaigns in connection with racial equity. We intend to update this repository as additional materials are developed. This project finds significant challenges and barriers to a reform agenda aimed at addressing systemic and structural racism due to: 1) budgetary and fiscal limitations on spending and appropriations, 2) ideological and political opposition to the goals of racial equity or particular proposals, 3) legal and constitutional limitations on consideration of race in policy-making, and 4) systems resistance to policy implementation that undermines policy intentions. Any thoughtful and effective agenda must grapple with these challenges.
I. Introduction and Overview
II. General Observations
A. Policy Categories: New Programs, Reforms, and Process-Recommendations
B. Race-Targeted versus Universalistic Recommendations
C. Race-Targeted versus Class-Based Policies
III. Main Findings and Areas of General Consensus
1. Police Reform and the Use of Force
2. Homeownership Subsidies
3. Rental Assistance: Expand and Reform the Housing Choice Voucher Program
4. Baby Bonds and Other Wealth-Building Tools
5. Strengthen Community-Based and Black-Owned Financial Institutions
6. Universal Pre-K
7. End Zero-Tolerance School Disciplinary Policies and Other Pushout Measures
8. Forgive Student Debt
IV. Other Notable Policy Ideas
2. Vocational Job Training and Community College
3. A National Popular Vote and Other Measures to Strengthen Voting Rights
4. Bail Reform
V. Policy Implementation Challenges and Evaluation
A. Budgetary and Fiscal
B. Ideological and Political
C. Legal and Constitutional
D. Systemic Resistance
VI. How to Use the Repository
I. Introduction and Overview
The history of the United States suggests that policies addressing racial injustice and racial inequality are most successfully pursued in brief but potent spurts. This occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War,2 in the form of a trio of constitutional amendments and a variety of statutes designed to protect freed slaves and their descendants, and at the height of the civil rights movement, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and a constitutional amendment prohibiting poll taxes were each adopted within a four-year period.
It is too early to determine whether the waves of protests of recent years as part of the Black Lives Matter movement will actually constitute a “racial reckoning” (as the media dubbed it) or not, but awareness of the role of systemic inequality and structural racism appears to be at or near its historical peak, especially among white Americans. This means that the aperture for meaningful policy change has opened. Whether the kinds of reforms and policy changes that will actually address the problem of systemic racism, let alone reduce extreme racial disparities, will materialize is an open question, but it is one of the most important of our time.
For that reason, it is important to have a sense of the policy landscape for remedying structural racism. Unfortunately, there is no single repository, resource, or organized database of proposed (or adopted) policy recommendations aimed at this problem. Instead, such recommendations can be found in a diverse array of books, edited volumes, reports, platforms, and long-form articles. This project compiles these resources into a single, searchable repository.
This project is not only meant to help inform policy discussions on race moving forward, but also to identify trends, areas of consensus and dissensus, as well as other interesting findings and observations about these collective efforts.
Over the past few years, we have reviewed some of the most significant published efforts advancing policy recommendations to remedy systemic and structural racial inequality in the United States. We have canvassed books, articles, policy briefs, reports, websites, white papers, and even presidential candidate platforms to extract policy recommendations pertaining to racial inequality. The result is this project. Although drawing upon a much larger literature and body of knowledge, in total, the database provided here covers twenty-five scholarly books, twenty-seven reports, several web-based organizational policy platforms, and virtually the entire range of materials of 2020 presidential campaigns.
The repository was initially compiled for internal research purposes (i.e., comparing policy recommendations among sources, comparing scholarly material to advocacy material, and tracking how various politicians incorporated these ideas into their platforms). As additional sources were added, it became evident that this repository might be useful to the general public, our partners, advocacy organizations, researchers, foundations, and local, state and federal officials.
For example, city council members seeking ways to address systemic racism in their communities might wish to peruse it for policy ideas that might be promising and well-received in their communities. Issue-oriented grassroots organizations might find it helpful to better understand how the racial-equity literature regards their issue.3 Local racial-justice organizations might find it helpful to have various materials compiled into a single repository and useful to compare various platforms in search of specific ideas that might galvanize their membership.
Scholars or researchers might use the repository to spot gaps within the existing policy literature on racial inequality, spurring them to investigate issues that are underexamined or require greater effort to translate expert or technical scholarship to broader audiences, like credit, finance, and banking. Often, academics are hesitant to explicitly connect their research findings to specific policy reforms. Issue-area gaps in the repository might suggest subject areas for deeper investigation or the need for more deliberate effort in translating research into policy recommendations.
This project is not only meant to help inform policy discussions on race moving forward, but also to identify trends, areas of consensus and dissensus, as well as other interesting findings and observations about these collective efforts.4
It is, of course, impossible to canvass let alone discover every possible resource pertaining to racial equity, systemic racism, and structural racism, but we are committed to adding to and enlarging our repository over time as new sources become known to us or are produced. This is intended to be both an open-source and highly inclusive repository. The only condition for inclusion is that the source material be explicitly or self-consciously aimed at remedying structural racism and systemic racism or advancing racial equity, and that the material includes policy recommendations, broadly defined.
It is probably true that recommendations that receive the broadest consensus and widest support are less likely to be the most controversial or radical. But we have striven to include a representative sampling of policy prescriptions from every sector, from the Movement for Black Lives platform and the 8toAbolition agenda to the more institutionalist recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force report. Therefore, we do not present recommendations that have received the widest mention as those that are necessarily the best or most promising. And, in any case, beyond presenting those policy recommendations that appear to have the most support in the literature, this overview also highlights those that have received a high degree of attention.
Finally, neither this introduction nor the repository render judgments on the efficacy, utility, or wisdom of any particular recommendation. To evaluate, let alone summarize research evaluating, such recommendations is far beyond the scope of this effort. Where certain recommendations are prevalent in literature, however, it is not unreasonable to assume that many researchers and scholars have considered and weighed their merits, although evaluative research analyzing such proposals may not exist in many cases. You may also notice that some of the recommendations advanced in this literature are broad and vague, while others are specific and detailed. There is a vast amount of material represented in this repository, but we are leaving it to users to assess relevance and quality of the recommendations and their relationship to one another.
II. General Observations
Before presenting our findings regarding areas of consensus or dissensus in the literature, a few general observations about the design of policies found in the literature and captured in our repository are worth relaying. These observations will help readers classify the recommendations into a few distinct types prior to considering the specific recommendations highlighted in this essay or captured in the repository. These observations relate to both the form and substance of the recommendation.
First, I present a taxonomy of policy recommendations divided into three broad categories: process-based recommendations, demands for new programs or initiatives, and calls for reforms or tweaks to existing policies or programs. Second, I highlight important differences in how these policies are framed and communicated to the public relating to the degree of race consciousness in the policy frame. First, I discuss the debate regarding class-based policies versus race-based ones.
The following discussion primarily concerns advocates, experts, and policy-makers who subscribe to two critical premises: that racial inequality is a problem in our society and that government policy at various levels can and should work to redress it in various deliberate ways. Many conservative or center-right experts and policy-makers dispute the first premise, and even more dispute the premise that racial inequality is a problem meriting a proactive policy response or broader policy agenda.
Few conservative or center-right policy experts or policy-makers advocate for significant interventions or deliberate new programs aimed squarely at racial inequality. Instead, they tend to promote reforms that are market-based or reduce the government's role.
As an illustration, one inequality propagating policy problem in which there is ideological agreement from the libertarian right to the progressive left is the need to rethink restrictive zoning, especially forms of exclusionary zoning, which sustain racial residential and educational segregation.5 The most obvious policy solution to this problem would be to adopt state or federal laws that curtail or abrogate restrictive municipal zoning codes or threaten the denial of federal funds to coerce policy change. Such top-down policy, however, is anathema to many conservative thinkers, exemplified by Howard Husock, a housing policy scholar at the Manhattan Institute.6 In his view, this type of policy reform is best left to cities themselves, adopting reform due to economic pressures caused by restrictive zoning, rather than as a racial remedy.7 To the extent that federal or state governments intervene, he proposes that the Department of Housing and Urban Development create and promote model zoning codes, urging cities to reform their codes through persuasion rather than coercion.8
This is emblematic of conservative and center-right opinion more generally regarding policy proposals aimed at racial inequality: they prefer to let markets operate “freely” to correct for distortions and racial prejudice, and if government action is required, they prefer local decision-making over state or federal mandates. If pushed, they prefer that the government play a narrower role, providing critical services, such as policing, education, and maintaining clean parks and public spaces, over explicit policies designed to reduce inequality.9 Thus, few conservative or center-right policy experts or policy-makers advocate for significant interventions or deliberate new programs aimed squarely at racial inequality. Instead, they tend to promote reforms that are market-based or reduce the government's role.10
A. Policy Categories
There are many possible ways to categorize the policy recommendations captured and organized in the repository. When examining the form or type of recommendation and not the substance, however, three broad categories appear to capture virtually all of them. The first are those that call for new programs, initiatives, rights, or even broad new government entitlements. The second category includes policy recommendations in the form of reforms, extensions, or rollback of existing programs, institutions, or entitlements. Finally, several recommendations are not substantive policy recommendations as such, but are process-based recommendations that could affect modes or nature of policy-making itself.
1. New Programs
Perhaps the most innovative and exciting area of policy development and advocacy pertains to entirely new ideas: new programs, initiatives, rights, or even government entitlements. Although there may be precedent for these ideas, for the most part these policy recommendations are novel in their scope or design. This includes proposals for baby bonds, universal public pre-K and community college, housing down payment assistance plans, the creation of alternative civilian response teams as part of emergency services, and even reparations policy.
2. Reforms to Existing Programs
The second large category of policy design does not call for new programs or initiatives, but calls for specific reforms to existing policy or programs. These recommendations can take the form of new standards (as in the use of force by police), extensions of existing policies (such as expanding preclearance formulas for voting rights nationwide or expanding the portability of housing choice vouchers to other jurisdictions), or regulatory tweaks to make existing programs more effective (such as banning source-of-income discrimination in rental markets or the “small area” fair-market rent program, which would increase the value of a housing choice voucher subsidy in most neighborhoods). In some cases, policy reforms require rolling back certain policies, such as the overuse of exclusionary or restrictive zoning, or providing oversight on its use. Another example of this mode would be the panoply of recommendations for rolling back punitive sentencing laws and zero-tolerance school disciplinary measures in favor of decriminalization of drug laws (repealing the 1996 crime bill) and adopting restorative justice programs.
3. Process-Based Recommendations
A notably large number of “policy” recommendations come not in the form of substantive policy change—institutional reforms, legal tweaks, or new programs or initiatives—but are process-based recommendations. They include, but are not limited to, demands for new or different race training, better or more detailed race-based data collection and analysis, new modes of policy design and policy administration, including those that work more closely with affected communities, and different ways of evaluating policy outcomes that are more race conscious.
A notable number of policy “recommendations” in the systemic racism literature pertain to tracking, collecting, and analyzing data.11 Many of these policy recommendations call for greater monitoring and evaluation of existing efforts rather than prescribe substantive changes to them. For example, the Ferguson Commission proposed public “benchmarking” designed to explicitly and forthrightly acknowledge challenges that relate to awareness and accountability of racial disparities.12
A related set of recommendations calls for greater collection and reporting on race in areas where the government does not currently track race. For example, both Emory tax law professor Dorothy Brown and the Urban Institute administrators call for the Internal Revenue Service to begin collecting race in tax reporting, like it does gender and age.13 They believe this is a critical step to begin understanding where disparities arise or persist.
Many governmental entities have already adopted policy reforms of this nature. For example, the state of California has passed a “Momnibus” law that would improve data collection on maternal mortality and race, and try to study conditions that shape that issue.14 The idea is that better data collection and analysis of the underlying data can help lead to better policy and health care.
The ultimate goal of process-based recommendations is to better ground public servants in the issues relating to racial equity in the hopes that they will produce better policy.
Another example is the recommendation to adopt “racial impact statements,” analogous to environmental or fiscal impact statements as a routine part of public policy-making. The idea here is to help policy-makers determine whether pending bills, if enacted, are likely to create or exacerbate disparate outcomes among people of different races or ethnicities.15 Iowa was the first state to adopt this process into law, and a few additional states have since followed suit.16
Similarly, a remarkably broad range of recommendations relate to antibias or racial diversity training for police officers rather than policy (such as disciplinary procedures or standards for use of force) per se. A similar set of recommendations can be found relating to teachers and other educators.17 These trainings hope to prepare public employees to understand issues of race and racial inequality in a way that more generally relates to their job performance rather than narrowly to a particular aspect of it.
Many recommendations relate to operational principles and strategy rather than specific policy. For example, a major report developed by PolicyLink and partners for federal agencies calls for an introspective examination of the agency’s past and present role in perpetuating or maintaining racial disparities, for focusing on root causes, to work in partnership with affected communities, to adopt a continuous learning approach, and to emphasize transparency and accountability.18 Both Government Alliance on Race & Equity (Race Forward) and PolicyLink emphasize the need for racial-equity plans and planning processes.19
The ultimate goal of these process-based recommendations is to better ground public servants in the issues relating to racial equity in the hopes that they will produce better policy. These recommendations relate to policy but do not demand a specific policy or policy reform. They are better understood as processes, modes, or operational recommendations rather than substantive policy changes or reforms.
B. Race-Targeted versus Universalistic
The policy recommendations contained in the repository of this project are divided into two distinct sections within each issue area: 1) race-specific policies that are race targeted in form and design, and 2) race-conscious policies that are universalistic in form and design. This distinction forms another large cleavage in the policy literature, with some proposals falling into the first category and many more into the second. The distinction here, however, can be both obvious and frustratingly subtle, so an explanation of the difference is helpful before describing the substance of the policy debates surrounding this cleavage.
Race-specific or race-targeted policies are those that address structural racism by targeting people on the basis of their race and providing benefits or extending protections on the basis of their racial identity. A reparations policy, for example, aimed at alleviating the enduring harmful effects of American slavery would likely provide payments or target benefits solely to descendants of enslaved African Americans. This would be an example of a race-specific policy (although not everyone who is Black in America would receive a direct benefit or payment under that policy, non-Black persons would generally be categorically excluded). A municipal contracting or procurement set-aside for nonwhite business owners would be another example of a race-specific policy, as the implementation and operationalization depends upon the racial identity of the intended beneficiary.
Race-conscious policies wrapped in a universalistic form are far more common in the literature, as our repository reveals. These are policies also aimed at remedying structural racism (hence, they are race “conscious” and have a racial purpose),20 but they are designed or implemented within a nonracial frame, and quite often a universalistic one. The term “universalistic” here denotes that the recommended policy’s benefits or protections are not delimited or restricted based upon the racial identity of the recipients or beneficiaries. Nonetheless, there is a reasonable basis to believe that the policy will tackle a racial problem or address a racial disparity.
There are many easily recognizable examples of race-conscious but universalistic policies. Perhaps one of the most famous historical examples is the constitutional amendment abolishing the poll tax, a prominent feature of racist Jim Crow voting restrictions that impeded Black suffrage. Yet the Twenty-Fourth Amendment does not restrict its protection only to Black southerners; it is a universal prohibition on poll taxes on all citizens as a condition of voting in federal elections.21
Modern examples of race-conscious (but not race-specific) policies include bail reform (a cluster of policies designed to curtail cash bail), baby bonds (explained in Part III), and the Texas Ten Percent Plan, a policy that automatically grants admission to the University of Texas at Austin to high-school graduates in the state of Texas who graduate near the top of their graduating class.22 This plan was designed for the purpose of promoting racial diversity after federal courts struck down the University of Texas at Austin’s race-based affirmative action policy. The reason it achieves this goal is because of underlying patterns of racial residential segregation and interdistrict segregation in the state’s primary and secondary schools.23 These policies are each race conscious, in terms of their legislative intent, aspirations, and aims to have a desired positive racial impact, but do not treat people differently (at least, not directly) on the basis of racial identity, on account of their universalistic form and operation.
The main reason that the distinction between race-targeted and merely race-conscious policies is difficult to grasp is because not every race-conscious policy is obviously so, but all race-specific or race-targeted policies are self-evidently race conscious. They wouldn’t be designed that way if they weren’t. Some race-conscious policies are so well disguised in universalistic framing or terms that their race-conscious aims or objectives can be difficult to discern. For example, a recurring recommendation in the literature on racial inequality is to increase the minimum wage and/or index it to the cost of living. Presumably, this is designed to tackle entrenched inequities in income, but the framing is so broad that it is hard to see its racial contours clearly.
In some cases, this may be strategic. As Barack Obama explained in a campaign book prior to the enactment of his Obamacare initiative, “a plan for universal health-care coverage would do more to eliminate health disparities between whites and minorities than any race-specific programs we might design.”24 Similar assessments could be drawn regarding universal pre-K programs or baby bonds proposals in relation to the racial wealth gap, for example. President Obama downplayed the racial dimension to his policy aims based upon a political calculus that doing so would ease passage or adoption of the policy, while drawing out the racial purpose would hinder that objective (more on this below).
The language and conventions used to describe these policy differences also generate enormous confusion, even among experts. “Targeting” or “universalism” in a policy context is not necessarily a simple or intuitive notion, especially to laypeople. More importantly, the idea of a “race-neutral” policy—often presented as the opposite of a race-conscious or race-specific policy—is incredibly ambiguous. Is a policy “race neutral” if it makes no mention of race? Or if it makes no mention of race but is also indisputably not designed for a racial purpose (either to include or exclude)? Or if it has no racial observable effects? Race-neutrality as a descriptor can connote that a policy is “neutral” in terms of its purpose, face, form, operation, or effect, without being clear about which is the intended meaning. This generates a confounding tendency for people using the term “race neutral” to talk past each other, employing the term in different senses.25
In a technical legal sense, a race-conscious policy like the Texas Ten Percent Plan is best described as “race neutral” in terms of its design or operation, because it does not consider race as a factor in admissions, as had been the case in the affirmative action policy that preceded it.26 But as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wittily observed in a case involving a review of admissions policies at the University of Texas, “only an ostrich,” with its metaphorical head in the sand, could regard the race-neutral Texas Ten Percent Plan as “race unconscious.”27 Her observation underscores the judicial tendency to focus on the form rather than operation or purposes of a law.28
Race-neutrality as a descriptor can connote that a policy is “neutral” in terms of its purpose, face, form, operation, or effect, without being clear about which is the intended meaning. This generates a confounding tendency for people using the term “race neutral” to talk past each other, employing the term in different senses.
Conversely, policies that are universalistic in form and race neutral in design, but have a consistent racially disparate impact, like restrictive municipal land use policies or criminal background screening questions on employment applications, can hardly be justly characterized as “race neutral.” This leads many critics to decry the notion of “racial neutrality” in policy-making and to emphasize race consciousness or awareness of racial impacts. Although superficially race neutral, New Deal-era policies such as the Social Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (which included minimum wage provisions) excluded agricultural and domestic workers from their benefits to accommodate Jim Crow, since those Black southerners disproportionately worked in those sectors.29
Some policies, which ostensibly treat everyone the same but have a stigmatizing effect, could also be said to be “race neutral,” like the antimiscegenation laws which prohibited interracial marriage.30 After all, many of these antimiscegenation laws could not have contributed to racial disparities in marriage rates, because Black and white people were still free to marry within their own group. Yet, the purpose was obviously one of racial control and the maintenance of white supremacy.
Underlying skepticism of race-neutrality in policy-making is a concern that policies which are universalistic in form may be either incapable or far less effective at addressing racial disparities than race-targeted policies, no matter their intentionality. A preliminary study of Massachusetts’ universal health insurance plan suggested, contrary to Barack Obama’s prediction, such an approach increased racial disparities in health care.31 Unfortunately, a similar set of findings has recently been made of Obamacare itself.32 Although disparities in insurance coverage have fallen, health inequalities persist. By giving everyone access to health insurance, remaining disparities were then based upon proximity and actual access to a primary health-care provider. It is conceivable that, for example, a baby bonds program or universal pre-K could help materially improve outcomes for all groups, including racially marginalized people, but nonetheless fail to significantly close racial disparities in educational opportunity or wealth.33
Relatedly, it is sometimes felt that universalistic policy design, even if motivated or inspired by race-conscious concerns, is conceding to a form of “colorblindness,” the delusion that all policy must treat everyone the same irrespective of conditions or historical treatment. Race-specific or race-targeted policies convey a symbolic or expressive element that is sometimes absent in merely race-conscious policy—that “race matters”—and that we should not shy away from forthrightly addressing racial inequalities and race problems in race-specific terms.
Indeed, there is often a political calculation regarding whether a policy problem should be addressed in race-targeted or more universalistic terms. There is a widespread assumption in the policy community that universalistic policies enjoy greater or broader political support than those which are perceived as zero-sum or capable of being portrayed as serving special interests.34 Universalistic policies extend their benefits more broadly and, therefore, are assumed to garner the support of more voters by appealing to their self-interest.35 Indeed, research shows that universalistic policies tend not only to be more politically popular than targeted policies, but more legally durable.36 This is how, for example, the Texas Ten Percent Plan, despite its diversity-promoting aims, is well insulated from judicial review while race-specific affirmative action policies are much more legally vulnerable.37
This is not to say that policy-makers wish to deemphasize race in every context or issue. Quite the contrary, they or other proponents may wish to market a particular policy proposal on grounds of racial equity as a selling point to some constituencies, even if the policy is universalistic in design. Thus, in recent months a remarkable range of policies have been prominently advanced on grounds of racial equity, including minimum wage increases, marijuana decriminalization and licensing, and cancelling some student debt.
Although these policies may indeed reduce racial disparities as their proponents argue, there are a handful of scholars and experts arguing against the wisdom of framing or marketing policy reforms such as these in race-explicit terms. They rely on theories and evidence suggesting that swing voters may be turned off by race-specific framing, and that policy or programmatic appeals may enjoy broader support in a universal frame. This debate erupted in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, based upon the assumption that race-targeted policies are a form of “identity politics,” a mode of policy design that stimulated a racial backlash which contributed to his election.38
In the following years, a more nuanced and sophisticated debate has emerged trying to study the precise political impacts of framing race-neutral policies in racial-equity terms or race-conscious policies framed in universal terms. In general, polling shows much stronger support for race-conscious policies with a universal frame than similar race-targeted policies.39 For example, redrawing district lines or creating magnet schools to promote racial integration in primary and secondary schools polls at 75 percent and 80 percent support, respectively, among white Democrats while race-based assignments and affirmative action admissions policies poll below 50 percent among the same group.40 Both approaches are race conscious and have racial-equity aims, but only the latter requires the use of race in assignment.
Digging deeper, political scientists have segmented the electorate and tested different framing of policy ideas to gauge shifts in support depending on the salience of race. One well-covered study released in April 2021 found that racial framing generally decreases support for progressive policies, even if the policy is exactly the same.41 This study surveyed 5,081 adults and asked them about six policies: increasing the minimum wage to $15; forgiving $50,000 in student loan debt; affordable housing; the Green New Deal; Medicare for All; decriminalizing marijuana and erasing prior convictions. In particular, Republican and independent voters were repelled by race-specific framing. A rerun of the study based upon feedback found more muted results.42 Other studies, however, have found that racial framing for universalistic policies appeals to fewer voters than such approaches repel.43
The prosecutorial strategy and ultimate verdict in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers is used as another data point by some pundits in support of the notion that “the most effective way to achieve racial justice can sometimes be to downplay race.”44 Rather than emphasize the racial history of the community or racist comments or remarks by the defendants, the prosecution only made passing references to race to the jury. The fear was that invoking race or making it a text of the case, instead of obvious subtext, might repel conservative white jurors, whom they needed for conviction. Analogically, this assumption is extended to median white voters, whose support is quite often needed to enact policies aimed at reducing racial inequity.
There are, of course, compelling counterarguments to these findings, which are harder to prove but highly plausible, especially in the policy context. Foremost among these is the concern that failure to address race forthrightly will allow covert “dog whistle” campaigns to operate implicitly and undermine the prospects of even popular policy proposals.45 Or the argument that race-explicit messages and framing motivates Democratic constituencies, especially people of color, to turn out.46
In terms of a policy agenda addressing structural racism, however, much of this debate is beside the point. If the goal is to address racial inequality first and foremost, then that can’t be readily accomplished by burrowing a racial-justice agenda inside a cluster of policies wrapped in race-neutral or universalistic frames. Even if the form is universalistic, some candor is required about goals and objectives.
The preceding debate does, however, reveal some tendencies that shape how such a race-conscious agenda, or parts of one, could be variously constructed and framed. It suggests that an outsized part (although certainly not all) of the policy cleavage at issue here (whether a policy should be universal or targeted) is not substantive—reaching to the substance of the policy or its motives—but instead communicative, touching primarily on expressive and symbolic aspects of policy-making as issues of public concern. As such, there has been a strong push (especially among antiracist advocates) to urge policy-makers toward more race-specific policies.
This is, in part, motivated by a belief that only race-specific policies can solve certain racial inequities, but it is also based on a view that American government at all levels should have a greater comfort with race-targeting policy-making and less apprehension about pursuing an explicit racial-justice agenda. Years of conservative norms in policy and jurisprudence have eroded institutional comfort with race-based policy-making. Courts generally treat race-target laws circumspectly, only permitting such laws if they are “narrowly tailored to serve compelling governmental interests.”47 Some of the push for race-targeted policies may hope to traduce or push back against these norms.
But a strict categorical preference for race-targeted over universalistic approaches is undesirable and unwarranted, both in terms of racial equity and structural racism or the larger public good. After all, would the constitutional amendment prohibiting poll taxes have been superior if it were more narrowly framed in race-specific terms, prohibiting poll taxes only as applied, say, to Black southerners? That seems unlikely, and the framers of that amendment were wise to resist that approach, both in terms of the political calculus as well as the merits. Similarly, would a “Ban the Box” policy, a bail reform policy, or stricter standards for the use of force by police be better policies if they were race specific?
Some race-conscious policies only make sense in universalistic terms. Imagine the complexities and difficulties if police were permitted to exercise lethal force against non-Black people based upon “reasonable believe that such force is needed to make an arrest or prevent a felon from escaping,” but only if there were “compelling evidence that force was necessary to stop an imminent threat of lethal force against themselves or public safety,” in the case of Black people.48 Such divergent standards would prove unworkable in practice.
But in other cases, race-specific or targeted policies may be required to address the problem at issue. For example, the racial wealth gap appears incapable of even significant reduction without race-specific policies, as the discussion in the next part of this report will reveal.
As a result of the complex mixture of motives and concerns at work, these debates tend to mystify more than clarify, generating more heat than light. The ultimate criterion for whether a policy remedy should be adopted in a race-targeted or merely race-conscious form is whether that is the optimal form to address the underlying problem. In some cases, that will call for a more universalistic approach, like the poll tax amendment, and in other cases, the most direct route to addressing a racial disparity or inequity may be a race-specific remedy, like affirmative action or contracting set-asides.
A strict categorical preference for race-targeted over universalistic approaches is undesirable and unwarranted, both in terms of racial equity and structural racism or the larger public good. After all, would the constitutional amendment prohibiting poll taxes have been superior if it were more narrowly framed in race-specific terms, prohibiting poll taxes only as applied, say, to Black southerners?
This is not to say that political calculations and legal considerations are irrelevant. If prevailing jurisprudence creates a blockage for one policy approach, then another may be necessary to effectuate that goal, possibly using racial proxies or other factors (like geography) correlated with race to produce a desired effect. Similarly, if public polling shows a wide gap in public support for a policy based upon whether it is framed in universalistic or race-targeted terms, then as long as the policy goal can be accomplished either way, whichever enjoys the most support should be pursued.
In cases where the policy objective or desired effect is diluted in the universalistic form, then a more careful weighing of the costs and benefits should be considered, including political pragmatism and feasibility. Some good achieved through a more modest policy reform may be better than the status quo, even if it is far from the desired outcome. These considerations help explain why universalistic policy forms predominate the literature on structural racism policy remedies.
C. Race-Targeted versus Class-Based Policies
Before presenting the main findings, there is a variant of the cleavage just described visible in the literature contained in our repository or otherwise frequently raised in policy debates relating to racial inequality. As an alternative to either race-targeted policies or to packaging race-conscious policies in universalistic terms, many advocates advance policy recommendations that are class based. Some of these arguments are ideological and others are pragmatic.
First, there is a long-standing left-wing critique of race-specific policy on the grounds that it cleaves the working classes and ultimately serves Black elites (or other economic elites) over most Black Americans or people of color.49 In the interests of class solidarity, some advocates concerned with racial inequality prefer class-targeted policies over race-specific ones. Some advocates take an even stronger position. Given the strong correlation between race and class, some leftists argue that “class-based strategies are the only viable egalitarian path to racial liberation.”50 This leads to the second reason that some policy recommendations appear in a class-based rather than a race-targeted form.
Given the legal constraints on race-targeting, some advocates will propose class-based policy recommendations as a “next-best” alternative. For example, in her book The Whiteness of Wealth, Emory tax law professor Dorothy Brown recommends a “reparations tax credit” (described in Part IV).51 However, to design it in a way that would survive judicial review, she recommends instead that Congress adopts a refundable tax credit that would target Americans on the basis of wealth instead of race. Specifically, she says that the credit could apply either to all Americans with below median wealth—the bottom 50 percent of the wealth distribution—or some other, lower threshold. But, as she points out, since Black Americans disproportionately hold less wealth, it would benefit, by her estimate, 83 percent of Black households. Although not a perfect correspondence, it is close enough that class-based policies may be appropriate and efficacious alternatives to race-targeted ones in at least some contexts.
As you review the recommendations contained in the repository, it may prove helpful to be aware of the jostling between recommendations for race-specific policies, class-based policies, and universal policies in this context. All three modes are different policy forms that are sometimes contrasted or pitted against each other. With a sense of the differences in types, forms, and ideological underpinnings that policy recommendations take, I now turn to present eight areas of broad consensus in the literature.
III. Main Findings and Areas of General Consensus
Although race permeates scholarship and mainstream journalism on a wide range of issues, the most voluminous and intense areas of concern relate to policing and the criminal justice system, education, health disparities, and housing and the racial wealth gap. Accordingly, it is in these areas where the largest body of policy-focused scholarship can be found, and where general consensus among advocates can be perceived. This is not to say that the policy issue areas presented below reflect an ideological consensus or are the optimal agenda for addressing the general problem. Rather, these are simply issue areas where the policy recommendations appear most frequently in the literature and receive support across key cleavages, ideological or otherwise.
1. Police Reform and the Use of Force
Probably the most consistent theme in the literature on structured racial inequality, spanning decades, is the concern over police and policing, with a particular emphasis on the use or abuse of force, as well as harassment and surveillance. The prominence of this issue in discussions over systemic racism reflects the persistence and ubiquitous nature of the problem as well as the immense challenges encountered in trying to solve it.
One of the reasons this issue has been stubbornly resistant to change is that use of force standards are not generally under local municipal control, but rather established by state law, federal statutes, or constitutional standards. Perhaps the most notorious touchstone for this legal issue is a 1989 US Supreme Court decision, Graham v. Connor, where the court decided that under the US Constitution, the standard for the use of force is “reasonableness” from the perspective of the officer in light of the totality of the circumstances, and not with the benefit of hindsight.52 This standard has given broad discretion to police officers, and critics, reasonably, assert that this standard is both vague and a license to kill with impunity.
As a result, many states have independently attempted to raise the standard, which would justify the use of force, above that floor. For example, California has changed the standard for the use of force to “only when necessary in defense of human life.”53 Most legislative efforts, including this one, have run into intense opposition from police unions and their associations, which has either stymied such efforts or diluted them into less effective compromises.
Probably the most consistent theme in the literature on structured racial inequality, spanning decades, is the concern over police and policing, with a particular emphasis on the use or abuse of force, as well as harassment and surveillance.
Similarly, recommendations relating to civilian oversight and meaningful accountability for policy violations have been urged for decades.54 Dozens of recommendations advanced by the Kerner Commission and similar commissions along these lines were never adopted or implemented.55As a consequence, many advocates have given up hope that the problem is amenable to reform, leading calls to “Defund the Police” or variants of “police abolition.”56
Critiques of policing, in light of both their track record as well as their historical roots, are amply visible in the systemic racism literature. Whether reformed or transformed, the specific issue of the use of force by police and abuse of police authority is, at least in terms of focus, an area of broad consensus.
2. Homeownership Subsidies
Racial disparities in homeownership are generally recognized as a major contributor to the vast racial wealth gap.57 Accordingly, a broad range of organizations and advocacy groups have called upon the government and the financial industry to spur or support Black homeownership. The Urban Institute and the National Fair Housing Alliance have made it a centerpiece of their policy advocacy, creating a “Keys Unlock Dreams” initiative to promote it.58 This proposal emphasizes down payment assistance with the goal of three million new Black homeowners by 2030.59 The National Community Reinvestment Coalition set a goal of 60 percent Black homeownership by 2040.60 Even Pete Buttigieg’s “Douglass Plan” called for a new homeownership fund that would racially target families residing in formerly redlined neighborhoods.61 Elizabeth Warren proposed a similar homeownership-promoting policy in her campaign platform targeted to low-income first-time homebuyers in formerly redlined, racially segregated neighborhoods and communities.62
Some of these proposals are broad but sparsely detailed, others are sophisticated and carefully devised and well-tailored to the problem. Various proposals include discounted interest rates on mortgages, mortgage assistance, down payment assistance, and other various direct or indirect subsidies.
Some of these proposals have been developed with stunning precision. For example, Richard Sander and his coauthors have devised a detailed plan for promoting racial residential integration in a major metropolitan area in their book Moving Toward Integration. Although the entire cost of their proposal would be $285 million, a one percentage point interest rate subsidy on the first $180,000 of a mortgage loan would only cost $45 million while helping more than ten thousand borrowers potentially find homes in integrated neighborhoods.63
These ideas are not entirely theoretical. Some have even been tried in the real world, although most such efforts are provided on a class basis. For example, Boston provides small grants for first-time, low-income homebuyers.64 Although not race-specific, of the 150 homebuyers in the program, 73 percent are Black and 18 percent are Latino. A more pointed example might be an obscure mid-1980s program entitled the “Cleveland Racial Integration Incentive” which provided low-interest mortgage funds for Black (and white) homebuyers.65 Although this program’s focus was racial residential integration, not necessarily Black homeownership, it is an interesting case study of a policy that would help advance that goal. It was administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, but only targeted a few Cleveland suburbs. In 1985, the program made more than $3 million in loans to thirty Black and nineteen white mortgagors.66 Although the program survived legal challenges, it was eventually discontinued a few years later.67
A more recent attempt to subsidize homeownership on a racial basis is an interesting initiative adopted by a Chicago suburb. The city of Evanston created a “reparations” fund in 2019, with the ultimate goal of distributing $10 million in housing assistance.68 Although initial grants will be relatively modest, eligibility is established by proving that an ancestor was a resident of Evanston who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969, or that they could have encountered housing discrimination because of city policies after 1969. By awarding grants, which would go to businesses or banks for the benefit of awardees, instead of cash payments, the city attempted to avoid possible tax implications. The initial grants are intended to be used for home repairs, mortgage assistance, or down payments.
There are, of course, many challenges in the implementation of such programs, which will be discussed in Part V of this report. And although homeownership subsidies or related policies are frequently mentioned and prominently featured in the literature on racial inequality, it should be noted that some scholars or advocates express either ambivalence about this goal or skepticism. Emory tax law professor Dorothy Brown, for example, maintains that “homeownership in America is a bad deal for most black Americans.”69 Pointing to the ways in which Black Americans' homes are undervalued and experience far less property value appreciation, among other problems, she concludes that homeownership is still worthwhile for Black Americans (Black homeowners have much greater net worth), but with significant qualifications. But even if disparities in homeownership rates were significantly reduced, disparities in home values and home equity between white and Black homeownership would still contribute to the racial wealth gap.
3. Rental Assistance: Expand and Reform the Housing Choice Voucher Program
Homeownership subsidies may be vital, especially to reduce the racial wealth gap, but not everyone wants to be a homeowner or is equally positioned to benefit from doing so, especially Black Americans.70 People who do not wish to own a home or may not be able to afford one or the upkeep, taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs, even with strong subsidies, should be helped as well. Thus, rental assistance is a common theme in the structural racism remedies literature as well as in the pledges of presidential campaigns. It can be found in sources as varied as Jonathan Rothwell’s mainstream manifesto A Republic of Equals to the more academic Stuck in Place by Patrick Sharkey to Joe Biden’s ambitious 2020 campaign pledge.71 Since Black Americans have lower rates of homeownership, it is assumed that rental assistance policies will disproportionately help them.
One of the largest federally subsidized housing programs in the United States is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, formerly known by the somewhat derisive term “Section 8.”72 This program provides rental assistance to millions of Americans. But it suffers from several problems, chiefly that it is underfunded to meet need. About eleven million eligible Americans are on waiting lists or otherwise unserved because the funding for the program is too small. In some jurisdictions, waiting lists are so long that housing authorities have closed the lists. Even where waiting lists are open, it may take years to receive a voucher.
Another problem contributing to racial segregation is the lack of portability. Because the vouchers are administered by local housing authorities, a voucher often cannot be easily transferred to a rental unit in a different jurisdiction.73 Relatedly, HCV subsidies are calibrated to the median rent in the metropolitan region, which means they will be largely inadequate to cover rents in higher opportunity areas. This flaw led to a pilot program known as the Small Area Fair Market Rents, a demonstration project in a few select cities, which the Trump administration discontinued.74
In many communities, landlords refuse to accept vouchers and rental assistance.75 Surveys show that landlords don’t want voucher renters.76 Generally speaking, these landlords are permitted to discriminate against voucher holders, except where “source-of-income” antidiscrimination statutes or ordinances have been adopted.77 Thus, ordinances prohibiting source-of-income discrimination are frequently advanced.
But even where such ordinances are in place, enforcing them is not easy. Landlords may conjure up other reasons to deny a voucher holder a lease, and proving those reasons as pretextual may be more trouble than it is worth. The scale of need, the scope of the policy reform challenge, and the complexities in administration have led some observers to conclude that the government’s panoply of rental assistance programs should be rethought, and perhaps replaced with a cash assistance program instead, a “universal basic rent” program.78 The advantage of such a program is that it might help overcome both bureaucratic complexities (such as portability) and landlord resistance.
4. Baby Bonds and Other Wealth-Building Tools
The median white family holds about eight times as much wealth as the median Black family. Despite lower rates of homeownership among Black families, this disparity is even worse when real estate assets are excluded.79 There is broad recognition in the structural racism literature that the racial wealth gap is a serious and major obstacle to a racially just society. There is less agreement on precisely how to tackle the problem. In particular, the literature demonstrates a range of policy proposals aimed at reducing the racial wealth gap.
One of the key insights in this area of policy research is that policies aimed at ameliorating poverty or supplementing incomes are not the same thing as those which create or develop assets. This is an area where universal policies, antipoverty policies or even policies focused on boosting income will make little difference in reducing overall racial wealth disparities.80 Income differences can be reduced even as wealth disparities persist, and it is wealth, more than income, that shapes intergenerational mobility. Although there is no known proposal that is capable of eliminating the racial wealth gap (aside from simply taxing white wealth until it is equal on a per capita basis), several policy proposals could substantially reduce it over time.
The most prominent of these proposals, one recently embraced by some mainstream politicians, is known as “baby bonds,” a policy primarily attributed to the economists William Darity and Darrick Hamilton.81 This policy idea suggests that every child be given a bond at birth that would mature, through interest, over time, so that they could be given a discrete amount of wealth at the age of maturity, to enroll in college, start a business, or use as a down payment on a home. But, even fully implemented, Professor Darity estimates that a baby bonds program would only reduce the racial wealth gap by about 20 percent.82
This is not simply a theoretical notion. In 2001, the Labour Party of the United Kingdom pushed for and succeeded in adopting a child trust fund in 2005.83 The government put a relatively small amount of funds into an account for children born after September 1, 2002, and allowed families to add more money into these tax-advantaged accounts. Unfortunately, the program was scrapped in 2011 over cost concerns, but the first wave of children benefiting from the program are now claiming the benefits.84 Undoubtedly researchers are studying the results.
Although these wealth-enhancing proposals may be designed in a way to ameliorate wealth inequality, it is difficult to project the extent to which these policies could immediately and more directly help reduce the racial wealth gap.
One proposal that has received more traction in the United States is entitled the “Child Wealth Building Act.”85 This proposal, introduced into the Washington, DC, city council, would authorize the creation of trust accounts of up to $25,000 for babies born into District families living at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty line, roughly $80,000 for a family of four. Upon turning eighteen, the child may withdraw the funds to pursue education, buy a home, start a business, and invest in financial instruments. In 2020, the state government of New Jersey had been considering a scaled-down version.86
US Senator Cory Booker proposed a federal version entitled “American Opportunity Accounts.”87 This proposal would seed interest-earning savings accounts with $1,000 for every newborn with additional funds contributed annually, depending on household income.88 At age eighteen, each beneficiary would be able to draw upon the accounts for certain permitted uses, like buying a car, starting a business, or buying a home.89
Another proposal that was floated by a wealthy investor is called “birthright funds.”90 This approach is similar to the baby bond except that it is aimed at building wealth over the life course. The idea is that the government would seed tax-free investment accounts with $6,750 at birth and allow retirees to draw from them freely at age sixty-five. Given growth rates of 8 percent a year, which is the historical average for equity indices, then each account should have more than $1 million by that time. This idea is estimated to cost about $26 billion annually, based upon projected birth rates.
Although these wealth-enhancing proposals may be designed in a way to ameliorate wealth inequality, it is difficult to project the extent to which these policies could immediately and more directly help reduce the racial wealth gap. Reparations would be a powerful mechanism for reducing the racial wealth gap, perhaps the policy best tailored to that goal. A discussion of reparations is provided in the next part of this report.
In addition to baby bonds and birthright proposals, there is another class of policy ideas that could help Americans, especially African Americans, build more wealth. These ideas include proposals relating to banking, credit, and employment training. Specifically, they include the capitalization and modernization of Black-owned banks and other minority businesses, subsidizing credit through low-interest loans, microloans for businesses, and a set of policies that could lead to greater wealth through paid apprenticeships, targeted vocational training and hiring, and the like.
5. Strengthen Community-Based and Black-Owned Financial Institutions
Banking is a major sector of the American economy, and credit markets shape access to capital with the capacity to start businesses, invest in communities, and seed entrepreneurship. Part of the problem is that too many communities of color lack access to traditional credit markets or regular banking services.91 But another part of the problem is simply lack of ownership and leadership in these institutions.
According to one estimate, there are 4,400 banks with $20.2 trillion in assets in the United States.92 The top ten banks earn more than $1 trillion a year in profits. But only eighteen of those banks are owned by African Americans, and those institutions have only $4.4 billion in assets, a small fraction of those held by the sector. Since banks make critical decisions about whom to provide credit and tend to contribute to their communities by donating funds to worthy causes, greater capitalization of, and investments in, Black-owned banks could have a salutary effect on reducing the racial wealth gap and improving the economies of racially marginalized communities.93
It is not just that these banks need more resources, but they also need to be competitive. Modernizing computer and technology systems for these banks could streamline review processes and result in more loans for the community. Modernizing banks means changes in marketing and perception as well, especially for communities who may be distrustful of traditional banking.
In the literature, experts point to the potential of community development banks and community development finance institutions (CDFIs) in addressing racial inequality.94 CDFIs are institutions certified by the Department of the Treasury to assist customers from “financially underserved” demographics.95 Community development banks are noncertified institutions that have similar goals, although they may receive a special designation from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.96
These institutions have historically played a notable role in addressing racial inequality. Perhaps the most well-known instance is the South Shore Bank based in Chicago, founded in 1973.97 Although this institution no longer exists as such, by some accounts it played a critical role in revitalizing Chicago’s South Side. Although it operated as a for-profit institution, it was owned by churches, foundations, and philanthropists, and it helped “catalyze” greater access to the region’s larger banks.98 Such institutions can help build trust in banking services, extend credit, inject resources, and also improve credit scores and histories. As community embedded institutions, they have a unique vantage point to observe the problems and strengths of the communities they serve.
Recommendations in the literature relating to these institutions include strengthening these institutions with more resources and expertise, pushing them to waive small and unnecessary fees and barriers to credit,99 strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act to require banks to meet the needs of marginalized communities, and providing low-interest loans and microloans for businesses and borrowers.
6. Universal Pre-K
In the racial-equity education context, there are two policies of broad consensus. The first is expanding or universalizing access to preschool or prekindergarten instructional and classroom offerings. The Advancement Project, the Center for Child and Family Success at Arizona State University,100 and PolicyLink101 are all racial-equity organizations that advance some version of this. It is also recommended in books such as Thomas Shapiro’s Toxic Inequality, a book about the racial wealth gap, and appeared in many presidential plans, including as a featured campaign pledge of Joe Biden’s.102
The assumption in this literature—even the literature critical or skeptical of universal pre-K, is that disadvantaged students are helped the most by expanding access to such programs.103 The United States lags significantly behind other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in both the percentage of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs.104 Because children of color are much more likely to be living in households with incomes below the poverty line, it is completely reasonable to assume that universal pre-K would disproportionately benefit children of color.
Research on pre-K generally supports the claims on its behalf. Studies have found a myriad of benefits, including long-term effects like higher levels of collegiate enrollment or adult employment.105 A study of preschool programs in Boston found that although there was no detectable increase in state proficiency test scores, preschool enrollment boosted college attendance and SAT test taking, and reduced the chance of disciplinary punishments, especially for boys.106 Another study described as the longest follow-up of an experimentally evaluated early childhood intervention from the 1960s found intergenerational advantages, especially for low-income Black families.107 A large, ongoing study of a universal pre-K program of four thousand students in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that tracked students through eighth grade found several statistically significant and observable differences in middle school between students who enrolled in the pre-K program and students who did not, including higher math scores and high probability of algebra enrollment.108
Research on pre-K generally supports the claims on its behalf. Studies have found a myriad of benefits, including long-term effects like higher levels of collegiate enrollment or adult employment.
These evaluations have identified the elements of pre-K programs that appear to work best and those that underperform.109 The most lauded programs are those that are comprehensive, involving parent education and additional support beyond those offered in programs like Head Start. In particular, such programs not only offer families wraparound supports, but they enshrine the nonacademic skills that are vital to future success. The cognitive advantages may be as important as the academic ones.110
A recent poll of eighteen scholars found that pre-K was the most popular of four separate family-related policies.111 Pre-K not only helps students, but it helps families. As proponents note, it has the beneficial side effect of making it easier for parents (especially mothers) to work,112 alleviating the burden of paying for childcare. And three states and the District of Columbia already have some form of it, showing that universal pre-K works both in red and blue states.113
7. End Zero-Tolerance School Disciplinary Policies and Other Pushout Measures
The race inequality literature is replete with volumes on the imbalances in the criminal justice system, the harmful consequences of the war on drugs, and need for reform. But these critiques also extend into schools, where disciplinary policies have a disproportionate impact on students of color. The literature on racial equity has a powerful focus on zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, police presence, and other policies and practices that contribute to what is often described as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the track that too many students of color experience from school to jail.114 Students of color are far more likely to be disciplined, and more severely, than their white counterparts.
This is an area of deep concern in the literature on systemic racism, as is evident from the breadth of supporters for reform. Although most prominent among education scholars and researchers, there are many supporters of reform in this arena: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),115 the Ferguson Commission, the 8toAbolition platform, Color of Change, and notably, the Advancement Project, which has been a stellar leader on this issue for many years.116 Even Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing made recommendations to try to curb the more excessive aspects of this problem, such as the use of electronic surveillance devices.117
Policy proposals in this area include reducing or eliminating the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, avoiding calling law enforcement to resolve disciplinary problems, and ensuring equal treatment of students for the same infraction. There is also a heavy emphasis on restorative justice programs and models as an alternative to traditional punishments.
8. Forgive Student Debt
It is estimated that in 2020, Americans held more than $1.7 trillion in student debt, more than double the figure from a decade earlier.118 Although forgiving student debt has been called “regressive” in some quarters, racial-justice advocates are strongly in favor of such policies.119 The Brookings Institution, most notably, has sought to highlight the racial divide in student debt and the relation to the racial wealth gap.120
Researchers at the Brookings Institution not only claim that Black college graduates owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers ($23,400 versus $16,000, including nonborrowers in the averages), but that the debt burden grows even larger a few years after graduation.121 They claim that Black graduates hold nearly $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation—almost twice as much as their white counterparts.122 The impact of this burden is not just on the racial wealth gap, but student debt is found to slow family formation, homeownership, and entrepreneurship.
Loan forgiveness is a prominent part of many racial-justice and equity policy platforms, from the Movement for Black Lives to the Kerner and Ferguson Commissions reports. Thomas Shapiro, an expert on the racial wealth gap, called for loan forgiveness on all student debt up to $50,000, a proposal echoed among many other advocates in recent years.123
This issue has garnered broad support for reform, not just among think tanks and advocacy groups, but also among policy-makers and elected officials. Some form of student debt forgiveness or cancellation was a part of many 2020 presidential campaign platforms.124 Although not yet implemented, there are policy proposals actively under consideration that would advance this policy goal. Until then, this remains an area of strong consensus and intense concern.
It should be noted, however, that forgiving student debt, while alleviating great hardship and advancing racial equity, is not a structural reform. As the journalist Matt Taibbi observed, “any real fix will require changing both how young people pay for higher education and reassessing just how much value colleges are providing for all that money.”125
IV. Other Notable Policy Ideas
Although the preceding eight policy recommendations are areas of obvious consensus visible in the literature reflected in our repository (as described at the beginning of Part III), that does not mean they are the only popular or widely discussed policy prescriptions. This section will highlight policy ideas that receive significant attention and discussion in the literature but do not appear with equal frequency in the repository. Although not receiving quite the same degree or breadth of support, they may be urged with equivalent intensity among their proponents and, therefore, are worth highlighting.
One reason that some of these ideas do not appear in the repository with the same frequency as they are discussed is because there may be disagreement about how best to address the underlying problem. For example, racial segregation is widely recognized to be an impediment to racial equity, especially in the realms of housing, education, and public health. But there is far less consensus about exactly how to deal with that problem and considerable ambivalence around integration interventions.126
Another reason that these policy ideas are worth highlighting is because they may fall into policy areas that receive less overall attention in the systemic/structural racism literature. While topics such as public health, housing, education, and the criminal justice system receive significant attention in the literature, areas such as voting rights, immigration enforcement, banking and finance, environmental justice, or other highly technical areas tend to receive less broad attention. They are no less “worthy” of policy discussion or advocacy, but they cannot be characterized as “areas of consensus” in the systemic/structural racism literature, in the sense of being frequently advanced or endorsed by materials in the repository. This is more an artifact of the areas of focus in the literature than a statement about relative importance or significance of the issue.
Reparations is a hot topic among the advocates and grassroots racial-justice organizations. Recommendations relating to reparations are prominent, for example, in the Movement for Black Lives platform.127 and were seriously debated among Democratic primary candidates in the 2020 presidential election128 and were even supported by the Brookings Institution129 and the ACLU.130 Even the popular news comedian John Oliver floated reparations in a June 2021 episode of his show.131 And a conservative journalist made the case for it in the Washington Post.132
Although a bill (HR 40) to study reparations had been introduced every year for decades by late-congressman John Conyers from Detroit, and had the support of many racial-justice scholars and advocates in the time,133 Ta-Nehisi Coates’s powerful cover story in a 2014 issue of the Atlantic elevated reparations as an issue to be considered by a much broader public.134 Nikole Hannah-Jones made another case for reparations a month after George Floyd’s death in the New York Times Magazine.135
Although reparations is a fervent policy goal in some circles, it remains deeply unpopular with the general public as measured by opinion polls. Even as public opinion shifted on race in the wake of Floyd’s murder, a Reuters poll found that only half of Black Americans surveyed supported reparations, while two-thirds of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans opposed reparations.136 Only one in ten white people surveyed support it. More than a year later, public opposition has not softened.137 Popularity, of course, is not the only or even primary gauge of merit, but it is an indication of the challenges of pursuing such a policy, from adoption to implementation.
Perhaps just as challenging as the politics of reparations is the lack of consensus on the design of potential reparations policies. Sharp disagreements include but are not limited to 1) the specific harm to be remedied (American slavery or also twentieth-century racial discrimination?), 2) the class of people who would qualify (only descendants of American slavery or some larger group?), 3) the form of reparations (cash payments, land repatriation, low-cost loans, tax credits, etc.), and 4) the entity or level of government providing reparations (private institutions; local, state or federal government).
Agreement regarding the importance or even the necessity for reparations does not, by itself, resolve these disputes. Whether a policy or initiative should be characterized as “reparations” is a deeply contested matter. Some recent initiatives discussed below have been characterized by their proponents or journalists as “reparations” to the consternation of scholars who may support those efforts but disagree with that label.
Moreover, many reparations proposals, especially some of the most sophisticated and detailed proposals, are propounded as specific remedies for the harm of racial slavery and not designed as solutions for contemporary racial inequality per se. Although they would very likely help reduce inequities that constitute structural and systemic racism (especially to the extent that many contemporary racial inequalities are a legacy of racial slavery). In this regard, there are numerous examples of reparations paid to survivors of historical wrongs or their descendants.
The United States has paid reparations to victims of the World War II-era Japanese internment.138 Germany has paid reparations to Israel and victims of the Holocaust.139 Not all these reparations policies went directly to victims. More recently, Germany set up a reparations fund for early twentieth-century ethnic cleansing in what is now Namibia.140 In 2015, Spain even set up a “reparations” policy of granting citizenship to any descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled during the Spanish Inquisition in the fifteenth century.141
One of the leading experts on reparation for American slavery is Duke economist William Darity, who coauthored one of the major treatises on the subject, From Here to Equality.142 Professor Darity not only makes the case for reparations, responding to various objections, but details what a program might look like and what it might cost by using two eligibility criteria: (a) establishing an ancestor who was enslaved and b) identifying as Black or African American within the preceding twelve years.143 After careful economic accounting, Darity estimates that the cost of a reparations payments would be between $10 and $12 trillion in total. He emphasizes, however, that the payments need not be direct cash transfers but could occur in trust accounts or as annuity payments.144
Professor Darity acknowledges, however, that the remedy proposed is both a remedy for racial slavery (descendants of free Blacks lacking an enslaved ancestor or of postbellum Black immigrants would be ineligible) and an individualistic, rather than structural, remedy for racial inequality. On the other hand, Darity points out that only a reparations policy is capable of seriously tackling the nation’s persistent racial wealth gap.145 And, although the payments or benefits would occur at an individual level, they could have salutary structural effects, as the infusion of wealth and resources transform communities of color.
Another notable specific and detailed proposal for reparations has been suggested by Emory tax law professor Dorothy Brown in her book The Whiteness of Wealth. She calls for a refundable federal tax credit as “compensation for the historical, legal racism that was perpetuated well into the twentieth century.”146 She calculates, using 2016 figures, that a credit of roughly $267,000 per Black American could eliminate the racial wealth gap.147
Several states and localities have adopted programs or initiatives in the name of reparations, including the Evanston program described earlier. However, Darity is sharply critical of state and local efforts at “reparations.”148 In his view, these programs should not be described as “reparations.”149 Partly because state and local budgets are incapable of raising the funds and resources needed to fully repair the harm of slavery and, secondly, because in the cases of the cities adopting such measures, they are not the entity responsible for the harm. Although the state of California has created a special task force for this purpose,150 Darity and Mullins point out that California’s state budget is about $200 billion a year, but the cost of eliminating the Black-white wealth gap in the state would be three times that amount.
Perhaps just as challenging as the politics of reparations is the lack of consensus on the design of potential reparations policies. Sharp disagreements include the specific harm to be remedied, who would qualify, the form of reparations, and the entity providing reparations.
Similarly, a few specific institutions have implemented what some describe as “reparations” efforts, largely based upon their past practices. The Virginia Theological Seminary, for example, decided to provide cash payments to descendants of Black Americans forced to work there.151 Likewise, Georgetown University announced a $100 million initiative targeted at descendants of people the institution bought and sold.152 Unsurprisingly, Darity and others are also critical of these efforts, describing them as “atonement” projects rather than a national program of reparations for slavery or the effects of racially discriminatory laws.153
There have also been a few instances of lawsuits brought against localities involved in racially targeted land confiscations decades before. The most prominent example is the case of “Bruce’s Beach” in Manhattan Beach, an affluent suburb in Southern California. Willa and Charles Bruce, a Black couple, bought the land in 1912 and opened a thriving resort community, despite frequent harassment by members of the white community.154 In the 1920s, the city used eminent domain to seize the land, and it was ultimately transferred to the state in 1948.
Following a public apology from the governor of California, the state legislature began a complex process to transfer ownership of the land back to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce.155 This effort has been described as “reparations” in national media, and reporters claim that this successful effort may inspire other efforts to return stolen land.156
While this effort can be described as an attempt at reparation for the Bruce family, this unique effort, or others inspired by it, cannot be described as “reparations”’ in the sense used to describe a broad effort to remedy or repair a grievous historical injury incurred at a societal level, as in the cases of the Holocaust or Japanese internment. It may be reparation, but it is not Reparations.
2. Vocational Job Training and Community College
Another notably large area of discussion in the structural racism literature relates to job training, vocational training, and community college coursework. This is not quite an area of broad consensus, but it is one of general agreement, especially across ideological cleavages. For example, expanding access to vocational training is something that is part of the Movement for Black Lives platform, was recommended by the Kerner Commission and the Brookings Institution, and is pushed especially hard by conservative think tanks.
The case for greater emphasis on vocational training and community college is simple: the pathways to skill development have been narrowed into a college track far beyond what is reasonable or healthy. Too many employers use college degrees as an employment screening device even where such credentials are not strictly necessary or even significantly related to the job requirements. The argument here is to open up both pathways into labor markets that do not depend upon college degrees and that can provide or develop needed skills without channeling people into expensive university educations.157
The racial-equity case is straightforward: Black youth unemployment is nearly twice as high as white unemployment. Preparing young adults, especially of color, from disadvantaged backgrounds for the labor force is viewed as an understandable policy priority, as well as a current failing of our society.
Some proponents of this policy claim that American policy-makers have spent too much time, money, and effort trying to push high-school graduates into colleges and universities, with too little to show for it. Decades of deliberate efforts to increase enrollment in such institutions have yielded little results. The goal is to create multiple pathways to the skills needed for the labor force and modern economy.
The buzzwords here are terms like “linked learning” or “sectoral training.”158 But what these really denote are educational approaches that connect skills development with the needs of employers. They also include vocational training programs, apprenticeships, and the like. Advocates point out that nonwhite Americans could benefit the most from being skilled-up in this manner.159
As intimated before, the strongest case for these approaches comes from the center right. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it may be a natural by-product of skepticism of public spending and a greater faith in markets. In any case, conservative think tanks are among the most outspoken in calling for more vocational pathways instead of college. The Cato Institute has called for much greater use of apprenticeships and vocational training in the public educational system.160 Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute, for example, argues that we should move half of the $150 billion we spend every year on higher education into employer-connected training programs and grants.161 A George Mason economist made a similar argument with a 2018 book.162 While racial-justice advocates emphasize both vocational training and community college, the center right has a point when it comes to the dominance of college in our labor markets.
3. A National Popular Vote and Other Measures to Strengthen Voting Rights
Voting rights are not prominent in the broader social scientific literature on systemic and racial inequality, which tends to center on housing, education, criminal justice reform, and public health. Nonetheless, among the sources that do mention voting rights, a powerful case has been made.
Although there are several high-profile national constitutional provisions and federal statutes aimed at protecting voting rights on the basis of race, an increasingly conservative judiciary has interpreted these protections parsimoniously, significantly narrowing the protections they extend.163 A wide range of voting rights organizations have called for reforms and legislation to restore or strengthen these laws. There are even bills in Congress that would accomplish much of these recommendations, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.164
Broadly speaking, the literature notes several harmful prevailing policies that restrict access to voting or equal voting rights: restrictive voter ID laws that disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino, or Native American voters; felon disenfranchisement laws; prison and racial gerrymandering; purges of voter rolls; and rollbacks of absentee and mail-in balloting, and early voting periods.
Recommendations run the gamut from those that would simply restore national preclearance for changes in voting procedures to those that would abolish the electoral college, replacing it with a national popular vote and making election day a national holiday. For example, both the Movement for Black Lives platform and the Douglass Plan call for these reforms.
4. Bail Reform
This is an issue where there is consensus among racial-justice advocates for the need for change, but no firm consensus on exactly how to do it. Unreasonable pretrial detention and abuse of bail has become, in the last decade, one of the most obvious areas for reform within the criminal justice system.
First, research suggests that nine out of ten criminal defendants cannot afford bail at the time of arraignment.165 On any given day there may be nearly half a million people incarcerated in jails and prisons, not as punishment for a crime, but as pretrial detention because they cannot afford bail.166 Research shows that only 15 percent of defendants are able to come up with $500 for bail.167 Perversely, the exploitative bail industry is even less helpful in these cases, because commercial bail bondmen are generally unwilling to offer their services for small amounts like this because it is not worth their time.168 Perhaps the most harrowing symbol of this was Sandra Bland, who was found dead in her Texas jail cell after being unable to provide $500 for her release.
In theory, extremely poor individuals might be a greater flight risk. But research refutes this supposition as well. According to one study, half of “high risk” defendants were let out because they could afford bail, while low-risk defendants are too often jailed for extended stays.169 Extended pretrial detention is not simply an inconvenience; it may actually cause significant practical harms, direct and indirect. Criminal defendants who fail to make bail may not only lose their wages or even their jobs, but could lose an apartment, house, or even custody of their children. For the homeless, such detention can mean losing a bed at a shelter. And for parents or other caretakers, the harms extend beyond the individual incarcerated, to those in their care.
Disturbingly, research shows that inability to make bail may actually increase the chance of conviction. One study found that “the assignment of money bail leads to a 12 percent increase in the likelihood of conviction and a 6–9 percent increase in recidivism.”170 Obviously, the ability to make bail should have no bearing on whether a criminal defendant is found guilty or not. One reason it does is that the threat of pretrial detention is used coercively to pressure criminal defendants to plead guilty so they can get out of jail.171 Thus, pretrial detention is associated with an increased likelihood of conviction. In a study of New York City, researchers found that 92 percent of defendants unable to make bail were convicted compared to just half of those who did.172
Although as many as 45 percent of all misdemeanors and 30 percent of all felony cases are ultimately dismissed, individuals unable to afford bail—primarily from low-income backgrounds—may be incarcerated for months in pretrial detention. One of the most egregious instances of abuse of pretrial detention is the case of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager arrested on suspicion for stealing a backpack. He spent three years incarcerated on Rikers Island because his family could not raise $3,000 to pay bail.173
In the end, the robbery charge was dropped for lack of evidence, and Browder was released. But the trauma of incarceration (which included two years of solitary confinement) haunted him so intensely that he took his own life a few years later.174 There are plenty of other instances of people incarcerated as pretrial detention for extremely minor alleged infractions that resulted in similar Kafkaesque absurdist journeys.
The ability to make bail should have no bearing on whether a criminal defendant is found guilty or not. One reason it does is that the threat of pretrial detention is used coercively to pressure criminal defendants to plead guilty so they can get out of jail.
Given these findings, it is little wonder that bail reform has not only received widespread attention, but is frequently the target of calls for reform in relation to systemic racism. In our repository, a range of organizations and sources have called for ending cash bail and other bail reforms, from the Movement for Black Lives to the Douglass Plan. Outside of the racial-justice context, several other institutions and organizations have called for bail reform.
The American Bar Association, for example, has recommended significantly curtailing the use of bail.175 In 2017 Republican US Senator Rand Paul and then-Democratic Senator Kamala Harris cowrote a New York Times op-ed calling for bail reform.176 The Department of Justice, under the Obama administration, issued guidance to try to curb these abuses.177 It specifically advised that courts should not incarcerate for failure to pay a fee or a fine without first determining ability to pay, and that courts should not issue warrants for arrest as a means of coercing payment and not require bail or bond for indigent defendants. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice revoked that guidance in 2017.
Several states or local jurisdictions have undertaken bail reform, eliminating cash bail or otherwise reforming it. This has led to a backlash as well as questions about how to implement such reforms. In 2019, New York eliminated cash bail for many misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes, but a fierce backlash led by police and prosecutors led to a rollback.178 In 2020, California voters were asked to weigh in on a ballot measure that would have eliminated cash bail, but voters rejected it, in part, because advocates were split on its merits.179 There are concerns in the literature and among advocates that systems designed to replace cash bail, like algorithmic risk assessments, could either have similar effects or prove worse.180
There may be consensus among racial-justice advocates concerning the need for bail reform, but there are deep divides about how to implement it. This ultimately undermines the ability to generate policy reforms, while police, prosecutors, and the $2 billion bail industry have mounted a furious counterattack.181 This includes lawsuits challenging such reforms, not simply lobbying efforts to roll them back.182
Amid rising crime rates in many American cities, bail reform is coming under greater pressure. Opponents of bail reform are using the case of Darrell Brooks, a man accused of killing six people and injuring sixty-two in Waukesha, Wisconsin, after being released on a $1,000 bond, as an example of the dangers of bail reform.183The lack of consensus on how to operationalize bail reform highlights a fundamental challenge in the policy arena: the inherent indeterminacy of translating values, goals, or even clear-eyed objectives into policy change.
At every stage of the policy development process—from the identification and articulation of a problem, to the analysis of the nature and causes of the problem, all the way through the policy design and implementation phases—there are indeterminacies that must be negotiated and resolved. Small differences of opinion in one stage can result in enormous differences in another.184
The policy recommendations found in this repository have the luxury, in most cases, of being presented in white papers or in the insulated space of the platform or scholarship. Once introduced into the real world of the legislative or administrative crucible, the policy recommendations found in this repository are unlikely to survive entirely intact, as originally envisioned. They must be formulated into actual law with indeterminacies that cannot be resolved in a pithy recommendation.
V. Policy Implementation Challenges and Evaluation
The policy proposals described in the preceding sections face resistance on an array of grounds. If these policies were easy to adopt and implement, then the problem of structural racism would have been solved many years ago. This section briefly reviews these objections and challenges.
A. Budgetary and Fiscal
Not all but many of the proposals reviewed have budget implications and require additional funding or appropriations. Even training or additional process-based approaches can prove costly, adding line items to tight institutional budgets. Program expansions (like HCV) or new programs like baby bonds have significant costs associated with them, no matter how efficient or beneficial they could prove to be.
Republican politicians at the federal level are unlikely to support any foregoing policies that require a significant increase in government expenditures. For example, Republicans on the House Budget Committee issued a memo attacking Cory Booker’s Opportunity Accounts bill on this ground, claiming it would “bust” the federal budget.185 Fiscal hawks complain that such expenditures increase the government debt burden, with consequences for future borrowing. In theory, this outcome could be avoided by raising taxes, but Republicans generally oppose this as well, arguing that tax increases reduce economic growth.
B. Ideological and Political
In a period of extreme political polarization, it can be expected that very few policies advanced in the preceding sections will garner broad bipartisan support. Prior policy achievements relating to racial justice came in periods of either extreme turbulence, such as Reconstruction, or at times in which the political parties were not as polarized as they are today (the postwar period). This means that enacting these policies will have to either occur on a one-party basis, overcome ideological and political objections, or enjoy such deep and widespread support among the public that opposition would be politically dangerous.
Although the fiscal and budgetary objections are related to ideological objections, political polarization means that Republicans are also unlikely to support any policies either designed or perceived to be serving racially identifiable populations. Thus, to overcome political objections, it is likely that a policy would have to be either extremely popular or framed in a way that is perceived to be or actually beneficial on a broad basis, especially to constituents of conservative policy-makers. The problem with the former is that very few policies meet this criteria. The problem with the latter is that because of the broader basis, the more expensive the program or policy is likely to be, and therefore the more objections would be raised from fiscal hawks. This leaves very little room for maneuvering, and helps explain the tremendous chasm between the recommendations of grassroots advocates and the policy reforms actually introduced and debated in the halls of American legislatures.
C. Legal and Constitutional
Even if the foregoing challenges can be surmounted, there remains perhaps the most difficult of all: the judiciary’s prevailing interpretation of the Constitution. Although contrary to prevailing expert historical opinion,186 the Supreme Court has gradually and narrowly construed the Constitution to generally prohibit race-based policy-making. In particular, any policy employing “racial classifications,” or explicit racial designations, in the awarding of benefits or imposition of burdens, has been ruled to be presumptively unconstitutional.187
All racial classifications, whether “benign” or “invidious,” are subject to “strict scrutiny review” by federal courts and can only be upheld if they are supported by a “compelling government interest” and “narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”’ The narrow tailoring prong has proven to be an extremely difficult bar to clear, making it almost impossible for governmental racial classifications to survive a constitutional challenge.
Thus, university affirmative action policies, government contracting preferences with minority-owned businesses, and race-targeted hiring policies have all been struck down.188 Even unwritten prison policies that separated inmates by race have been struck down as unconstitutional.189 More recently, the Biden administration’s attempt to provide nonwhite rural farmers with additional assistance from a $4 billion federal fund proved not only highly divisive, but was successfully challenged in the court.190
Aside from a dramatic and extremely unlikely revolution in Supreme Court jurisprudence in this area, this obstacle leaves essentially two avenues open to advocates of racial justice in the policy arena. First, pursue race-conscious policies that do not include or require the use of racial classifications. Broad, universalistic policies tend to fit this mold well, but it is not always obvious how to do this in a way that will reduce racial disparities or achieve desired equity objectives. Helpfully, there are plenty of examples that have been successfully attempted in the real world. Proxies or indicators that correlate with race (such as income, wealth, or zip code) can be used instead of individual racial classifications. Or race can be considered in a general way, such as at the neighborhood or community level without running afoul of anticlassification precedent.191
The Texas Ten Percent Plan, which was adopted by the state legislature after the courts overturned the University of Texas’s affirmative action program, is just such an approach: its purpose is to promote diversity, and it works because of underlying patterns of racial residential segregation. In short, it is race conscious in trying to promote racial diversity but does not involve any individual consideration of race.
The second approach is to so carefully design the operationalization of the policy or program that it is capable of surviving judicial review. Examples here include the race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Texas.192 These policies are highly nuanced, consider many factors, and generally mean, in practice, that race has a very marginal effect. Strong documentation and careful data analysis is generally needed to establish a record that can survive a lawsuit. Extreme sophistication and careful administration are also required, including the consideration of race-neutral alternatives to demonstrate that they do not work as well.193
The problem with the second approach is that, with that level of sophistication, it is sometimes nearly as easy to develop and adopt policies that do not entail racial classification but achieve the same desired effect.194 Proxies and other indicators can be used for race, or race can be considered in a general way, rather than at the individual level. Thus, the first approach appears to be the easiest route in either case.
D. Systemic Resistance
The preceding three challenges are relatively easy to understand. But there is another implementation challenge that bears mention. History and experience have taught that virtually all racial-justice policy reforms have been met by not only resistance, backlash, and organized opposition, but also unexpected systems change, which undermine the policy aims.
For example, when federal courts ordered southern school districts to desegregate, many school boards simply shuttered schools rather than comply, and the more affluent white students were enrolled into private schools.195 The same was true of public pools. And when desegregation “went north,” parents moved with their feet, fleeing into suburban districts to thwart desegregation mandates.
To take another example, when the Constitution was amended to prohibit the disenfranchisement of Black voters based on race, ingenious and devious alternatives were adopted to skirt that general prohibition. Measures such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses complied with the letter of the law while violating its spirit.
It is naive to imagine that a well-designed policy will accomplish its intended purpose without fail. Rather, systems theory teaches that all systems have “negative” and “positive” feedback loops.196 Negative feedback loops are those that resist the intervention into the system being attempted and, ultimately, try to maintain the homeostasis of the system, much like the body’s immune system fights invaders.
One lesson from political science is that policy design and policy implementation are vastly different processes.197 Policy design is the arena of the legislative body or other policy-makers. But policy implementation occurs in the real world, often under the supervision of administrators and bureaucrats, but also that of parents, schools, businesses, and markets. Few policies are entirely self-executing, and the ultimate outcome will depend greatly on the implementation process. Many well-intended policies are thwarted through flawed implementation.
This is why policy interventions must have an evaluative, monitoring, and adjustment component. Without a component that is capable of making adjustments and evaluating progress, then it is more likely than not that any particular intervention will be thwarted or diluted in the implementation process. This underscores the need for an evaluative component to measure progress, set benchmarks, and make improvements.
History and experience have taught that virtually all racial-justice policy reforms have been met by not only resistance, backlash, and organized opposition, but also unexpected systems change, which undermine the policy aims.
Evaluation and monitoring mechanisms allow policy-makers and administrators to make adjustments in the face of unexpected resistance or changes in system behavior. Ultimately, however, such monitoring and evaluation processes must be able to discern whether the policy is having a positive impact, even if the desired outcome proves elusive. It is paradoxical to note, but the test of success cannot simply be whether the desired outcome was achieved. Many policies aimed at reducing poverty and hunger or increasing affordable housing and health care are overwhelmed by countervailing forces and external events, like economic recessions or pandemics. If the state of affairs would have been much worse absent the policy intervention, then an evaluation process should be able to credit it as worthwhile, even if the overall situation has either worsened or not improved as dramatically as its authors had hoped.
VI. How to Use the Repository
The repository includes sources that meet two criteria: 1) material self-consciously addressing racial inequality or systemic or structural racism, and 2) material containing or featuring explicit or implicit policy recommendations. As noted in the introduction, the repository was initially compiled for internal research purposes. As additional sources were added, it became evident that this repository might be useful for organizers, researchers, and policy-makers.
The repository is organized into twelve thematic areas and a catchall category: 1) Policing, 2) The Criminal Justice System: Municipal Court Reform, 3) The Criminal Justice System: Incarceration, Probation, and Parole, 4) Youth Justice, 5) Education, 6) Economic Justice, 7) Housing and Transportation, 8) Health Care, Public Health, and Environmental Justice, 9) Arts and Culture, 10) Voting, 11) Immigration, 12) Operations: Administration, Implementation, and Evaluation, and 13) Odds and Ends.
To peruse the repository, simply select the thematic area you wish to view from the left-hand menu, and that area will “open.” Click that area again to collapse that area. Within each thematic area, the recommendations are further organized into two sections: one covering policy recommendations that are race specific or race targeted and those that are not, because they are either universalistic in their frame, economic or class based, or otherwise framed in general nonrace-specific terms. The race-specific and targeted policies are listed first. Within each of those areas, specific recommendations are organized into further subtheme areas in an outline that is structured from general to the more specific.
Following each recommendation is an acronym or abbreviation indicating the source(s) from which this recommendation was made. For example, Richard Rothstein’s book The Color of Law is coded as “RCOL.” A complete listing of sources can be found in the appendix of the repository, along with the abbreviation for it.
This project is the first comprehensive effort to organize and summarize the extant literature on policy remedies for systemic and structural racism. It is both comprehensive and necessarily incomplete, touching upon, but not entirely encompassing, bodies of knowledge and advocacy efforts relating to, but not entirely falling within, the bounds of an explicit racial-justice policy agenda.
The plan for this project is to periodically update the main repository with sources and material falling under the appropriate header, up until the point at which the repository is no longer useful as a public resource or the underlying material has been rendered largely obsolete. Until that point, please send any suggestions or recommendations you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. This includes resources for inclusion in the repository or suggestions or ideas for policy recommendations.
One of the challenges of synthesizing this literature is the diffuse nature of the source materials. As already noted, many of the recommendations arise from the specific domains in which they were found: education, public health, economics, banking and finance, and criminology, among others. Very few of the materials surveyed and included are comprehensive in scope or aim. This suggests one possible avenue for future research: attempting to understand or assess how policy recommendations in one arena might interact with those of another. How might Community Reinvestment Act reforms, for example, affect housing policy? Greater research is needed to explicate and assess the linkages across research areas, especially in the realm of policy research.
Another challenge is that of studying policy itself. Academic research illuminates much of our understanding of the problems which undergird and inform these policy recommendations. But academics are far less likely to study policy, let alone attempt nuanced, localized studies of policy effects. Those climbing the academic ladder are more rewarded in the tenure track process by generating new knowledge abstractly than from trying to understand applied policy problems.198 Universities and colleges, as well as foundations and funders, should put more emphasis on underlying applied policy problems than they currently do. Only with this research in hand can we chart the most direct path to solving these problems.
1 The author would like to acknowledge all the students who directly contributed to the repository: Eliza Brooks, Claire Parker, Nahlee Lin, and Natalie Spievack; the students who helped with sources: Skyler Pemberton and Sanjana Manjeshwar; and the expert reviewers for their invaluable feedback: john a. powell, Eli Moore, Phil Tegeler, Margery Turner, Sarah Treuhaft, Megan Haberle, and Perfecta Oxholm.
2 Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863–1877, 1st ed. (New York, NY: Harper Row, 1990).
3 In California, there may be a greater tendency for a conflation of “issue” and “equity” based organizations than is the case nationally, but there is a qualitative difference between organizations that are primarily issue-focused—organized around and focused on a particular issue area—and those that are focused instead on a particular ethnic, racial, or religious group but care about issues. For example, NAACP affiliates, the National Urban League, the Movement for Black Lives, etc. are community and identity organized, not issue organized, and are qualitatively different from organizations that have been formed and organized to protect tenants’ rights or promote equity in public health, broadly speaking.
4 For instance, we are surprised to find that most policy recommendations relating to racial inequality are framed in universalistic, rather than race-specific, terms. Campaigns to “ban the box,” for example, are based upon a clear recognition that mass incarceration has fallen disproportionately on Black and Latino men, but such campaigns call for employment screening processes to drop questions about past criminal records for all applicants, not just Black or Hispanic ones. Although restrictions on race-specific policy-making may explain some of these cases, as policy-makers frame laws to survive legal challenges, there are strong proponents of universalism over targeted policy approaches. There are well-known legal and constitutional restrictions on race-specific policy-making, and these restrictions may contribute to the tendency toward universal frameworks as policy-makers work around these restrictions. But there are many areas where universal solutions would be preferred or found to be more workable even if these restrictions did not exist. This is discussed in Part II (B).
5 Stephen Menendian, Samir Gambhir, and Arthur Gailes, Single Family Zoning in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley, CA: Othering & Belonging Institute, 2020), https://belonging.berkeley.edu/single-family-zoning-san-francisco-bay-area. For an example of a center-right organization calling for an end to restrictive zoning, see: Michael D. Tanner, Cato’s Project on Poverty and Inequality in California: Final Report (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2021), 18, https://www.cato.org/catos-project-poverty-inequality-california-final-report?mc_cid=6011f90dc9&mc_eid=f780ffaf53.
6 “Howard Husock—Biography,” Manhattan Institute, accessed November 23, 2021, https://www.manhattan-institute.org/expert/howard-husock.
7 Howard Husock, Soho Forum: Government Caused Housing Segregation. Do We Need More Government to Fix the Problem?, featuring Howard Husock and Richard Rothstein (2019; New York: Manhattan Institute), video, https://www.manhattan-institute.org/video/soho-forum-public-housing-government.
8 Husock, Soho Forum.
9 Husock, Soho Forum at 43:10 min.
10 Tanner, Cato’s Project, 64. This tendency creates an interesting dynamic when it comes to policy implementation: conservatives tend to prefer direct payments or transfers over complex administrative apparatuses. Thus, for example, in 2014, representative Paul Ryan proposed consolidating eleven different welfare programs into a single block payment. See also Editorial Board, “Paul Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan Has Some Good Ideas That All Sides Can Support,” Washington Post, July 24, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/paul-ryans-anti-poverty-plan-has-some-good-ideas-that-all-sides-can-support/2014/07/24/592fc514-1363-11e4-9285-4243a40ddc97_story.html, and Stephen Menendian, “Opportunity in America: The Problem with the Paul Ryan Plan,” Berkeley Blog, August 1, 2014, https://blogs.berkeley.edu/2014/08/01/opportunity-in-america-the-problem-with-the-paul-ryan-plan/.
11 For example, see Chrishana M. Lloyd, Julianna Carlson, and Marta Alvira-Hammond, Federal Policies Can Address the Impact of Structural Racism on Black Families’ Access to Early Care and Education (Bethesda, MD: Child Trends, 2021), 2, https://www.childtrends.org/publications/federal-policies-can-address-the-impact-of-structural-racism-on-black-families-access-to-early-care-and-education.
12 The Ferguson Commission, Forward through Ferguson: A Path toward Racial Equity (St. Louis, MO: Forward through Ferguson, 2015), 159, https://3680or2khmk3bzkp33juiea1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/101415_FergusonCommissionReport.pdf.
13 Tracy Gordon and Aravind Boddupalli, “New Data Tools and Methods Can Help Federal Policymakers Create More Equitable Tax Policy,” Urban Wire: The blog of the Urban Institute, March 17, 2021, https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/new-data-tools-and-methods-can-help-federal-policymakers-create-more-equitable-tax-policy; Dorothy Brown, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—and How We Can Fix It (New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2021).
14 Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, “Governor Newsom Signs ‘Momnibus’ Act to Tackle Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health,” October 4, 2021, https://www.gov.ca.gov/2021/10/04/governor-newsom-signs-momnibus-act-to-tackle-racial-disparities-in-maternal-and-infant-health/. See also Kathleen Ronayne, “Lower Death Rates for Black Moms Is Goal of California Bill,” Associated Press, September 27, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-lifestyle-health-california-race-and-ethnicity-5e61307a3b52fd597bd831f9939da86e, and Adam Beam, “New California Law Aims to Reduce Deaths among Black Moms,” Associated Press, October 4, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/gavin-newsom-california-laws-race-and-ethnicity-health-6047cb0f8966bb3631cb74e3f7b4d40b.
15 Wayne Ford, Jazz Lewis, Nicole D. Porter, Tracey Tucker, and Leah Sakala, “Incorporating Racial Equity Analysis in Policymaking: Racial Impact Statements in Justice Reform,” filmed November 15, 2021, at the Urban Institute, Washington, DC, video, https://www.urban.org/events/incorporating-racial-equity-analysis-policymaking-racial-impact-statements-justice-reform?&utm_source=urban_events&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=federal_eval_forum&utm_term=lhp.
16 National Juvenile Justice Network, The Promise of Racial Impact Statements: Findings from a Case Study of Minority Impact Statements in Iowa (Washington, DC: National Juvenile Justice Network, 2020), https://www.njjn.org/uploads/digital-library/thepromiseofracialimpactstatements_njjnoctober2020(small).pdf.
17 Shantel Meek et al., Start with Equity: 14 Priorities to Dismantle Systemic Racism in Early Care and Education (Tempe, AZ: The Children’s Equity Project, 2020), https://childandfamilysuccess.asu.edu/sites/default/files/2021-03/14-policies-equity-031521.pdf.
18 PolicyLink, For Love of Country: A Path for the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity, (Oakland, CA: PolicyLink, 2021), https://www.policylink.org/resources-tools/for_the_love_of_country.
19 PolicyLink, For Love of Country.
20 It should be noted here that the notion of “race-consciousness”—policies designed with a racial purpose—is the popular understanding of this term, and differs somewhat from the legal conception of race-consciousness, which refers to policies, laws or actions taken with an “awareness” of race, but not necessarily a racial purpose. This is yet another reason, as noted below, that this term is a source of so much confusion.
21 US Constitution, amend. XXIV, sec. 1 (“The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.”). For a discussion of the legislative history, see Samuel R. Bagenstos, “Universalism and Civil Rights (with Notes on Voting Rights after Shelby),” Yale Law Journal 123, no. 8 (2014): 2838–76.
22 Nicholas Webster, Analysis of the Texas Ten Percent Plan (Columbus, OH: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2007), 5, http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Texas-Ten-Percent_style.pdf.
23 Brief of Social and Organizational Psychologists as Amici Curiae Supporting Respondents, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, 579 US ___ (2016), https://belonging.berkeley.edu/fisher-v-texas-amicus-brief-social-and-organizational-psychologists.
24 Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2006), 146.
25 This makes the term “race neutral” nearly incomprehensible at times, unless presented with a clear definition of intended meaning or in a context that makes the intended meaning clear. The reason this term is so troublesome in this context is that its usage is often defined in relation to the terms “race-conscious” or “race-targeted” policy-making. This is because often these terms are defined in the negative, as the absence or opposite of “race-neutral” policy-making. Given all of this, it is easy to understand why confusion reigns when talking about “race-conscious” and “race-neutral” policy-making.
26 Stephen Menendian, “What Constitutes a ‘Racial Classification’?: Equal Protection Doctrine Scrutinized,” Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review 24, no. 1 (2014).
27 Fisher v. University of Texas, 570 US 297 (2013).
28 Menendian, “What Constitutes a ‘Racial Classification’?” There is an exception, of course, for “disparate impact” claims, but this claim is only available under statutory law, such as Title VII and Title VIII, not the Constitution.
29 Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White (New York City: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006); john a. powell, “The Race and Class Nexus: An Intersectional Perspective,” Minnesota Journal of Law and Inequality 25, no. 2 (December 2007).
30 john a. powell et al., Newsletter Vol. 2, Fall 2013 (Berkeley, CA: Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, 2013), https://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/HIFIS%20Fall%2013%20Newsletter%20-%20Online%20FINAL_0.pdf.
31 Bobby Milstein, Jack Homer, and Gary Hirsch, “Analyzing National Health Reform Strategies with a Dynamic Simulation Model,” American Journal of Public Health 100, no. 5 (2010): 815, https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.2009.174490 (“expanded coverage enrolled more than 300,000 people, but a lack of PCP availability meant that many of the newly insured could not find a regular source of primary care”).
32 Roni Caryn Rabin, “Racial Inequities Persist in Health Care Despite Expanded Insurance,” New York Times, August 17, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/health/racial-disparities-health-care.html.
33 One of the early exponents of this idea has concluded as much: William Darity, Fenaba R. Addo, and Imari Smith, “The Subaltern Middle Class: The Case of the Missing ‘Black Bourgeoisie’ in America,” Contemporary Economic Policy 39, no. 1 (2020), 4, https://socialequity.duke.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DarityAddoSmithCEP2020.pdf (See Figure 6).
34 john a. powell, Stephen Menendian, and Wendy Ake, Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice (Berkeley, CA: Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, University of California, Berkeley, 2019), 9, https://belongingberkeley.edu/sites/default/files/targeted_universalism_primer.pdf?file=1&force=1.
35 In the race context, this assumption is bolstered by a famous formula advanced by critical race theory pioneer Derrick Bell, which he called the interest convergence theory. This theory posited that the interests of Black people could only be advanced when they aligned with the interests of white people. See Derrick Bell, “Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma,” Harvard Law Review 93, no. 3 (1980): 523, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1340546?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents. However, this theory has been the subject of considerable scrutiny, most obviously by assuming that interest is stable or that politics is defined largely by interest. There is plenty of evidence that people routinely vote against their material or economic self-interest. See Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (London, UK: Picador, 2005). Interest is not as stable as Bell’s theory assumes. See john a. powell and Caitlin Watt, “Corporate Prerogative, Race, and Identity Under the Fourteenth Amendment,” Cardozo Law Review 32 (2010): 897, https://lawcat.berkeley.edu/record/1124080?ln=en (“White interest—just like whiteness itself—is not nearly so stable over time.”). The greater relative support among ‘white liberals’ for race-specific policy suggests that whiteness is inherently multiple. See also john a. powell, “The Race and Class Nexus: An Intersectional Perspective,” Minnesota Journal of Law and Inequality 25, no. 2 (2007): 355–428, https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1126&context=lawineq (“It is inconsistent to recognize that race is not fixed and fail to see the contingency of interest.”).
36 Samuel R. Bagenstos, “Universalism and Civil Rights (with Notes on Voting Rights after Shelby),” The Yale Law Journal 123, (2014): 2838–2876, https://www.yalelawjournal.org/pdf/2838.Bagenstos.2876_c5kmzww2.pdf. Beyond the debate over the validity or implications of the interest-convergence thesis, there is separate debate about whether democratic governance is simply an instrument for the aggregation of policy preferences of the people or something more nuanced. One variant of this debate that has arisen recently—and which is related to the other debate on interest—is whether politicians can win by simply pursuing and adopting popular policies, known as “popularism.” For an overview of this debate, see Spencer Bokat-Lindell, “Democrats Are in Peril. Can They Talk Themselves Out of It?," New York Times, October 12, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/opinion/democrats-biden-shor-senate.html?referringSource=articleShare.
37 Fisher v. University of Texas, 570 US 297 (2013); Fisher v. University of Texas, 579 US __ (2016).
38 Probably the most notorious expression of this argument was Mark Lilla, “Opinion: The End of Identity Liberalism,” New York Times, November 18, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html.
39 This is consistent with Derrick Bell’s interest convergence formula. Bell, “Brown v. Board of Education,” 524.
40 Meredith Conroy and Perry Bacon Jr., “White Democrats Are Wary of Big Ideas to Address Racial Inequality,” FiveThirtyEight, July 14, 2020, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/white-democrats-are-wary-of-big-ideas-to-address-racial-inequality/.
41 Micah English and Joshua Kalla, “Racial Equity Frames and Public Policy Support: Survey Experimental Evidence,” OSF Preprints (2021), https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/tdkf3.
42 Micah English and Joshua Kalla, “A Follow-Up Study to ‘Racial Equality and Public Policy Support,’” Public Google Docs, https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSQIFvKW1NUShVgWH-tlb_-1DFvBOSGWWV7uRP9T4HLB1xcKq_kD3GNg5n0XcasefeUfUDbVvfdvZlC/pub; The memo aforementioned worked to clarify and supplement their original paper.
43 Marc Novicoff, “Stop Marketing Race-Blind Policies as Racial Equity Initiatives,” Slow Boring, February 20, 2021, https://www.slowboring.com/p/race-blind-policies-racial-equity.
44 David Leonhardt, “Fighting Racism, Quietly,” New York Times, November 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/briefing/ahmaud-arbery-race-american-politics.html.
45 Thomas B. Edsall, “Should Biden Emphasize Race of Class or Both or None at All?” New York Times, April 28, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/opinion/biden-democrats-race-class.html.
46Alex Samuels, “Why Biden Is Unlikely to Talk Meaningfully about Race Anytime Soon,” FiveThirtyEight, May 13, 2021, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-biden-is-unlikely-to-talk-meaningfully-about-race-anytime-soon/; and Demos Research Team, Race-Class: Our Progressive Narrative (Demos: 2018), 5, https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/Race_Class_Narrative_Handout_C3_June%206.pdf.
47 Menendian, “What Constitutes a ‘Racial Classification’?”
48 Trevor Burrus, “Set a Higher Standard for Police Use of Force,” New York Times, updated December 4, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/12/04/do-cases-like-eric-garners-require-a-special-prosecutor/set-a-higher-standard-for-police-use-of-force.
49 Pascal Robert, “The Obsession with the Black/White Wealth Gap Protects the Elites,” Newsweek, December 21, 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/obsession-black-white-wealth-gap-protects-elites-opinion-1661910.
50 Adaner Usmani and David Zachariah, “The Class Path to Racial Liberation,” Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy (Fall 2021), https://catalyst-journal.com/2021/12/the-class-path-to-racial-liberation.
51 Dorothy Brown, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—and How We Can Fix It (New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2021), 217–222.
52 Graham v. Connor, 490 US 386 (1989). For critical commentary, see David D. Kirkpatrick, “Split-Second Decisions: How a Supreme Court Ruling Shaped Modern Policing,” New York Times, April 25, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/us/police-use-of-force.html.
53 Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, “AB 392 and Peace Officer Use of Force Standards,” CA.gov, updated May 14, 2021, https://post.ca.gov/Use-of-Force-Standards.
54 Nirali Beri, Stephen Menendian, and Richard Rothstein, The Road Not Taken: Housing and Criminal Justice 50 Years After the Kerner Commission Report, (Berkeley, CA: Othering & Belonging Institute, 2019), 16, https://belonging.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/haas_institute_road_not_taken_kerner_publish_may_2019.pdf.
55 Here is our transcription of all recommendations: Menendian et al., “1968 Kerner Commission Report,” Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 Conference, (Berkeley, CA: Othering & Belonging Institute, 2018), https://belonging.berkeley.edu/key-kerner-commission-recommendations. And, in the note immediately above, our assessment of progress on these recommendations in the areas of housing and policing.
56 Mariame Kaba, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police,” New York Times, June 12, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/sunday/floyd-abolish-defund-police.html; Mon Mohapatra et al., #8toAbolition: Abolitionist Policy Changes to Demand from Your City Officials (#8toAbolition, 2020), https://www.8toabolition.com/.
57 Thomas Shapiro, Tatjana Meschede, and Sam Osoro, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide (Waltham, MA: Institute on Assets and Social Policy, 2013), https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/24590/racialwealthgapbrief.pdf.
58 National Fair Housing Alliance, “Keys Unlock Dreams Initiative,” KeysUnlockDreams, 2021, https://keys.nationalfairhousing.org/.
59 The Black Homeownership Collaborative, “Our 7-Point Plan to Create 3 Million Net New Black Homeowners by 2030,” 3by30, 2021, https://3by30.org/.
60 Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Jamie Buell, and Joshua Devine, 60% Black Homeownership a Radical Goal for Black Wealth Development (Washington, DC: National Community Reinvestment Coalition, 2021), 9, https://ncrc.org/60-black-homeownership-a-radical-goal-for-black-wealth-development/.
61 Pete Buttigieg, “The Douglass Plan: A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America,” Pete Buttigieg for President—Official Campaign Website, July 2019, 14, https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/douglass-plan.pdf (“Under the 21st Century Community Homestead Act: An eligible grantee would be […] a current resident of any historically redlined or racially-segregated area or a resident of such an area for at least three years over the previous decade.”).
62 “Safe and Affordable Housing,” Warren Democrats, March 16, 2019, accessed January 7, 2022, https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/safe-affordable-housing.
63 Richard H. Sander, Yana H. Kucheva, and Jonathan M. Zasloff, Moving Toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 451–452.
64 Housing, “New Funding to Support First Generation Homebuyers,” City of Boston, February 11, 2021, https://www.boston.gov/news/new-funding-support-first-generation-homebuyers.
65 Rebecca Labov, “Racial Residential Integration in Urban America,” Agora 11 (2018): 45, https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/136588/Labov_RacialResidentialIntegrationInUrbanAmerica.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
66 Howard Husock, Integration Incentives in Suburban Cleveland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1989): 5, https://case.hks.harvard.edu/integration-incentives-in-suburban-cleveland/.
67 Anthony Celebrezze Jr. “Opinion No. 87–095,” December 14, 1987, 2–619, https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/getattachment/73713bf5-3ba8-4ae6-af99-cc58efff4387/1987-095.aspx.
68 Julie Bosman, “Chicago Suburb Shapes Reparations for Black Residents: ‘It is the Start,’” New York Times, March 22, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/22/us/reparations-evanston-illinois-housing.html.
69 Brown, The Whiteness of Wealth, 88.
70 Ibid. Dorothy Brown points out that Black Americans buying homes in predominantly Black or diverse neighborhoods are far less likely to experience the same level of property value appreciation as Black homebuyers purchasing homes in predominantly or heavily white neighborhoods. As a result, there is a trade-off where Black families seeking the highest return on their investment will often have to sacrifice community and accept “small slights and indignities for the sake of their investment.”
71 Matthew Yglesias, “Joe Biden’s Surprisingly Visionary Housing Plan, Explained,” Vox, July 8, 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/7/9/21316912/joe-biden-housing-plan-section-8.
72 “Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet,” US Department of Housing and Urban Development, accessed December 1, 2021, https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/hcv/about/fact_sheet.
73 Philip Tegeler, Housing Choice Voucher Reform: A Primer for 2021 and Beyond (Washington, DC: Poverty & Race Research Action Council, 2020), 10–11, https://www.prrac.org/pdf/housing-choice-voucher-reform-agenda.pdf.
74 Alana Semuels, “Trump Administration Puts on Hold an Obama-Era Desegregation Effort,” The Atlantic, August 30, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/08/trump-hud/538386/; Meryl Finkel et al., Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration Evaluation: Interim Report (Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2017), https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/SAFMR-Interim-Report.pdf.
75 Kristián Hernàndez, “Biden Wants to Offer More Housing Vouchers. Many Landlords Won’t Accept Them,” Stateline: Pew Charitable Trusts, May 12, 2021, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2021/05/12/biden-wants-to-offer-more-housing-vouchers-many-landlords-wont-accept-them.
76 Teresa Wiltz, “Getting a Section 8 Voucher Is Hard. Finding a Landlord Willing to Accept It Is Harder," Stateline: Pew Charitable Trusts, August 31, 2018, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/08/31/getting-a-section-8-voucher-is-hard-finding-a-landlord-willing-to-accept-it-is-harder.
77 Poverty & Race Research Action Council, “Appendix B: State, Local, and Federal Laws Barring Source-of-Income Discrimination” in Expanding Choice: Practical Strategies for Building a Successful Housing Mobility Program (Washington, DC: Poverty & Race Research Action Council, 2021), https://www.prrac.org/pdf/AppendixB.pdf.
78 Rachel M. Cohen, “The Simplest Fix to America’s Rent Program,” The Atlantic, October 20, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/10/universal-basic-rent-section-8-voucher/620429/ (“Making vouchers more like cash for renters, as opposed to subsidies for landlords”).
79 Kriston McIntosh et al., "Examining the Black-white Wealth Gap," The Brookings Institution, February 27, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/02/27/examining-the-black-white-wealth-gap/.
80 Darity, Addo, and Smith, “The Subaltern Middle Class,” 4, Figure 6.
81 Darrick Hamilton and William Darity Jr., “Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?” The Review of Black Political Economy 37, no. 3–4 (2010): 207–216.
82 Darity, Addo, and Smith, “The Subaltern Middle Class,” 8.
83 “Child Trust Fund,” Gov.uk, accessed December 1, 2021, https://www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds.
84 Rupert Jones, “£9bn bonanza begins as child trust funds come of age,” The Guardian, August 22, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/aug/22/9bn-bonanza-begins-as-child-trust-funds-come-of-age.
85 “Councilmember McDuffie Unveils ‘Baby Bonds’ Legislation to Eliminate DC’s Racial Wealth Gap,” The DC Line, May 4, 2021, https://thedcline.org/2021/05/04/press-release-councilmember-mcduffie-unveils-baby-bonds-legislation-to-eliminate-dcs-racial-wealth-gap/; “McDuffie and DC Council One Step Closer to Becoming Second in Nation to Pass Baby Bonds,” The DC Line, July 19, 2021, https://thedcline.org/2021/07/19/press-release-mcduffie-and-dc-council-one-step-closer-to-becoming-second-in-nation-to-pass-baby-bonds/.
86 Tracey Tully, “$1,000 ‘Baby Bond’ Proposed in NJ in Bid to Narrow the Wealth Gap,” New York Times, August 25, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/nyregion/baby-bond-nj.html.
87 Senator Cory Booker, All Information (Except Text) for S.222—American Opportunity Accounts Act, Congress.gov (Senate Finance Committee, 117th Congress 2021–2022), https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/222/all-info?r=5&s=1.
88 “Growing Momentum for ‘Baby Bonds’ as Pressley, Booker Reintroduce Landmark Legislation to Combat the Growing Racial Wealth Gap,” US Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (website), February 4, 2021, https://pressley.house.gov/media/press-releases/growing-momentum-baby-bonds-pressley-booker-re-introduce-landmark-legislation.
89 “Growing Momentum for ‘Baby Bonds’ as Booker, Pressley Reintroduce Landmark Legislation to Combat the Growing Racial Wealth Gap,” Cory Booker (website), February 4, 2021 https://www.booker.senate.gov/news/press/growing-momentum-for-baby-bonds-as-booker-pressley-re-introduce-landmark-legislation-to-combat-the-growing-racial-wealth-gap.
90 Marguerite Ward, “Billionaire Investor Bill Ackman Says the US Should Give Every American Cash at Birth So They Can Retire a Millionaire,” Business Insider, December 4, 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/bill-ackman-give-americans-cash-birth-universal-basic-income-equity-2020-12.
91 Sander, Kucheva, and Zasloff, Moving Toward Integration, 433; Kristen Broady, Mac McComas, and Amine Ouazad, “An Analysis of Financial Institutions in Black-Majority Communities: Black Borrowers and Depositors Face Considerable Challenges in Accessing Banking Services,” Brookings Institution, November 2, 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/research/an-analysis-of-financial-institutions-in-black-majority-communities-black-borrowers-and-depositors-face-considerable-challenges-in-accessing-banking-services/.
92 Robert F. Smith, “Persuade Companies to Embrace a 2 Percent Solution,” New York Times, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/fix-america-economy-climate-health#robert-smith-companies-2-percent-solution.
93 Jen Wieczner, “Making Black Banks Matter,” Fortune, September 21, 2020, https://fortune.com/longform/black-owned-banks-banking-us-companies/.
94 Sander, Kucheva, and Zasloff, Moving Toward Integration, 433.
95 “What Is a CDFI?,” Opportunity Finance Network, accessed December 22, 2021, https://ofn.org/what-cdfi#:~:text=Community%20development%20financial%20institutions%20.
96 “Community Development Financial Institutions Fund,” US Department of the Treasury, accessed December 22, 2021, https://www.cdfifund.gov/.
97 Sander, Kucheva, and Zasloff, Moving Toward Integration, 257-259, citing Richard Taub, Community Capitalism: The South Shore’s Bank’s Strategy for Neighborhood Revitalization, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School, 1994). See also Beryl Satter, Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America, (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2009).
98 Sander, Kucheva, and Zasloff, Moving Toward Integration, 434.
99The Ferguson Commission, Forward through Ferguson, 52–53; Joe Neri, “Five Ways That Lenders Can Interrupt Racism and Provide Restorative-Justice Capital in Our Communities,” IFF, April 7, 2021, https://iff.org/five-ways-that-lenders-can-interrupt-racism-and-provide-restorative-justice-capital-in-our-communities/.
100 Shantel Meek et al., Start with Equity.
101 Sarah Treuhaft, Justin Scoggins, and Jennifer Tran, The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy (Oakland, CA: PolicyLink, 2014), https://www.policylink.org/sites/default/files/Equity_Solution_Brief.pdf; “Quality Preschool for Low-Income Children,” All-In Cities, accessed December 22, 2021, https://allincities.org/toolkit/quality-preschool.
102 Megan Leonhardt, “Biden Calls for Free, Universal Preschool and Affordable Child Care in the US,” CNBC, April 28, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/28/american-families-plan-biden-free-universal-preschool-affordable-child-care.html.
103 Max Eden, The Drawbacks of Universal Pre-K: A Review of the Evidence (New York: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, 2021), https://www.manhattan-institute.org/drawbacks-universal-pre-k-review-evidence.
104 Juliana Herman, Scott O’Halloran, and Sasha Post, The United States Is Far Behind Other Countries on Pre-K (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2013), https://www.americanprogress.org/article/the-united-states-is-far-behind-other-countries-on-pre-k/.
105 “Fact Sheet: High-Quality Prekindergarten Is a Wise Investment,” National Women’s Law Center (March 2013), https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/prekfactsheet.pdf.
106 Guthrie Gray-Lobe, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Waters, “The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series (May 2021), https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28756/w28756.pdf.
107 Jorge Luis Garcia, Frederik H. Bennhoff, Duncan Ermini Leaf, and James J. Heckman, “The Dynastic Benefits of Early Childhood Education,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series (July 2021), https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w29004/w29004.pdf.
108 William T. Gormley Jr., Deborah Phillips, and Sara Anderson, "The Effects of Tulsa’s Pre-K Program on Middle School Student Performance,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (2017): 1–25, https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/kkv3d717lib52clh9w4t3wns50ivcaxs.
109 Elizabeth U. Cascio, “Does Universal Preschool Hit the Target? Program Access and Preschool Impacts,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series (2019), https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w23215/w23215.pdf; David J. Armor and Sonia Sousa, “The Dubious Promise of Universal Preschool,” National Affairs (Winter 2014), https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-dubious-promise-of-universal-preschool.
110 James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto, and Peter Savelyev, “Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes,” American Economic Review 103, no. 6 (2013), https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.103.6.2052.
111 Claire Cain Miller, “Which of these 4 Family Policies Deserves Top Priority?,” New York Times, updated November 3, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/upshot/of-four-family-policies-in-democrats-bill-which-is-most-important.html.
112 Rasheed Malik, The Effects of Universal Preschool in Washington, DC: Children’s Learning and Mothers’ Earnings (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2018), https://www.americanprogress.org/article/effects-universal-preschool-washington-d-c/.
113 W. Steven Barnett et al., The State of Preschool 2016 (New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2017), https://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Full_State_of_Preschool_2016_9.15.17_compressed.pdf.
114 Catherine Y. Kim, Daniel J. Losen, and Damon T. Hewitt, The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2010); “School-to-Prison Pipeline,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed December 22, 2021, https://www.aclu.org/issues/juvenile-justice/school-prison-pipeline.
115 “School-to-Prison Pipeline,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed December 22, 2021, https://www.aclu.org/issues/juvenile-justice/school-prison-pipeline.
116 Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track (Los Angeles, CA: Advancement Project, 2005), https://www.njjn.org/uploads/digital-library/Education-on-Lockdown_Advancement-Project_2005.pdf; “Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track,” Advancement Project, accessed December 22, 2021,
117 The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Implementation Guide: Moving from Recommendations to Action (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, US Department of Justice, 2015), https://cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/Publications/cops-p341-pub.pdf.
118 Abigail Johnson Hess, “US Student Debt Has Increased by More Than 100% over the Past 10 Years,” CNBC, December 22, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/22/us-student-debt-has-increased-by-more-than-100percent-over-past-10-years.html.
119 Nicquel Terry Ellis, “A Texas Teacher Can’t Afford Health Insurance or Buy a Home. Here’s Why Black Leaders Say the Student Loan Crisis Is a Civil Rights Issue,” CNN, October 6, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/06/us/black-student-loan-crisis/index.html.
120 Judith Scott-Clayton, The Looming Student Loan Default Crisis Is Worse Than We Thought (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2018), https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-looming-student-loan-default-crisis-is-worse-than-we-thought/.
121 Andrew M. Perry, Marshall Steinbaum, and Carl Romer, Student Loans, the Racial Wealth Divide, and Why We Need Full Student Debt Cancellation (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2021), https://www.brookings.edu/research/student-loans-the-racial-wealth-divide-and-why-we-need-full-student-debt-cancellation/.
122 Judith-Scott Clayton and Jing Li, Black-White Disparity in Student Loan Debt More Than Triples after Graduation (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2016), https://www.brookings.edu/research/black-white-disparity-in-student-loan-debt-more-than-triples-after-graduation/.
123 Thomas M. Shapiro, Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2017), 258.
124 Donna Fuscaldo, “Student Loan Forgiveness: Where the Top Democratic Presidential Candidates Stand,” Forbes, September 12, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2019/09/12/student-loan-forgiveness-where-the-top-democratic-presidential-candidates-stand/?sh=2afe51dc7dbc.
125 Matt Taibbi, “Forgiving Student Debt Alone Won’t Fix the Crisis,” Rolling Stone, January 25, 2021, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/matt-taibbi-student-loan-crisis-1117924/ (“Wiping out a little or even a lot of debt won’t fix an inherently predatory system”).
126 Stephen Menendian, Samir Gambhir, and Arthur Gailes, The Roots of Structural Racism Project: Twenty-First Century Racial Residential Segregation in the United States (Berkeley, CA: Othering & Belonging Institute, 2021), https://belonging.berkeley.edu/roots-structural-racism.
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128 Kate Sullivan, “Marianne Williamson Places Campaign Ad on Reparations in South Carolina,” CNN, October 29, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/29/politics/marianne-williamson-campaign-ad-reparations-south-carolina/index.html.
129 Rashawn Ray and Andre M. Perry, “Why We Need Reparations for Black Americans,” Brookings, https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/bigideas/why-we-need-reparations-for-black-americans/.
130 “Reparations for Slavery Now,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed December 22, 2021, https://action.aclu.org/send-message/reparations-slavery-now.
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132 Gary Abernathy, “Opinion: Why I Support Reparations—and All Conservatives Should,” Washington Post, April 22, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/04/22/why-i-support-reparations-all-conservatives-should/?utm_campaign=wp_week_in_ideas&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_ideas.
133 Henry Louis Gates Jr., “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” New York Times, April 22, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23gates.html.
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135 Nikole Hannah-Jones, “What Is Owed,” New York Times Magazine, June 30, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/24/magazine/reparations-slavery.html.
136 Katanga Johnson, “US Public More Aware of Racial Inequality but Still Rejects Reparations: Reuters/Ipsos Polling,” Reuters, June 25, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-reparations-poll/u-s-public-more-aware-of-racial-inequality-but-still-rejects-reparations-reuters-ipsos-polling-idUSKBN23W1NG.
137 Jared Sharpe, “UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll Finds Nearly Half of Americans Say the Federal Government Definitely Should Not Pay Reparations to the Descendants of Slaves,” University of Massachusetts Amherst, accessed December 22, 2021, https://www.umass.edu/news/article/umass-amherstwcvb-poll-finds-nearly-half.
138 Isabella Rosario, “The Unlikely Story Behind Japanese Americans’ Campaign for Reparations,” NPR, March 24, 2020, https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/03/24/820181127/the-unlikely-story-behind-japanese-americans-campaign-for-reparations.
139 “Holocaust Restitution: German Reparations,” Jewish Virtual Library: A Project of AICE, accessed December 22, 2021, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/german-holocaust-reparations.
140 Shelleygan Petersen, “Namibia Announces Acceptance of German Genocide Offer,” The Namibian, June 4, 2021, https://www.namibian.com.na/211960/archive-read/Namibia-announces-acceptance-of-German-genocide-offer.
141 Nicholas Casey, “Spain Pledged Citizenship to Sephardic Jews. Now They Feel Betrayed,” New York Times, updated July 28, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/24/world/europe/spain-jews-citizenship-reparations.html.
142 William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
143 Darity and Mullen, From Here to Inequality, 258.
144 William Darity Jr., “Why Reparations Are Needed to Close the Racial Wealth Gap,” New York Times, September 24, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/24/business/reparations-wealth-gap.html.
145 William Darity Jr., “The True Cost of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” New York Times, April 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/30/business/racial-wealth-gap.html.
146 Brown, Whiteness of Wealth, 230. By “refundable,” she means that even if the credit offsets all tax liability for the beneficiary taxpayer, the federal treasury would issue a payment for the difference.
147 Brown, Whiteness of Wealth, 217.
148 Others described here: Breeanna Hare and Doug Criss, “Six Questions about Slavery Reparations , Answered,” CNN, August 15, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/15/us/slavery-reparations-explanation-trnd/index.html.
149 “Dr. William Darity from Duke University & Kirsten Mullen Discuss Racial Justice, July 2021,” YouTube, July 30, 2021, accessed December 29, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVewEtBBV1c&t=349s.
150 Hannah Poukish and Alex Cohen, “What Reparations for California’s Ties to Slavery Might Look Like,” Spectrum News, May 13, 2021, https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/inside-the-issues/2021/05/13/what-reparations-for-california-s-ties-to-slavery-might-look-like.
151 Will Wright, “Seminary Built on Slavery and Jim Crow Labor Has Begun Paying Reparations,” New York Times, May 31, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/us/reparations-virginia-theological-seminary.html.
152 P. R. Lockhart, “Georgetown University Plans to Raise $400,000 a Year for Reparations,” Vox, October 31, 2019, https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/31/20940665/georgetown-reparations-fund-slavery-history-colleges.
153 Annalisa Merelli, “The Jesuits’ Plan to Compensate Their Slaves’ Descendants Gets Reparation Wrong,” Quartz, updated July 1, 2021, https://qz.com/2010943/georgetown-and-the-jesuits-slavery-reparations-plan-falls-short/; Wright, “Seminary Built on Slavery.”
154 Mark McDermott, “Manhattan Beach City Council Rejects Apology Regarding Bruce’s Beach,” Easy Reader & Peninsula, April 7, 2021, https://easyreadernews.com/manhattan-beach-city-council-rejects-apology-regarding-bruces-beach/; Sam Levin, “A Beach Town Seized a Black Couple’s Land in the 1920s. Now Their Family Could Get I Back,” The Guardian, April 17, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/17/bruces-beach-willa-charles-manhattan-beach-la-county.
155 Gilbert Cordova, “Gov. Newson Signs Bill That Returns Land to Black Couple’s Heirs,” ABC 10, September 30, 2021, https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/california/land-returned-to-black-couples-heirs/103-a632161c-d3cd-4f06-8160-1e7f3aea604f; “Bruce’s Beach to Be Returned to Black Family 100 Years after City ‘Used the Law to Steal It,’” The Guardian, October 1, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/oct/01/bruces-beach-returned-100-years-california.
156 Michael Scott Moore, “California’s Novel Attempt at Land Reparations,” New Yorker, May 27, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/californias-novel-attempt-at-land-reparations; Helaine Olen, “Opinion: What Manhattan Beach, Calif., Says about Reparations,” Washington Post, May 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/02/what-manhattan-beach-calif-says-about-reparations/; Danny Hajek, A. Martínez, and Kelley Dickens, “A Black Family Got Their Beach Back—and Inspired Others to Fight against Land Theft,” NPR, October 10, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/10/10/1043821492/black-americans-land-history.
157 “Building the Future of Work Requires Skills Training, Flexibility,” Prudential, October 11, 2021, https://news.prudential.com/building-future-work-requires-skills-training-flexibility.htm.
158 “Sectoral Training,” MDRC, accessed December 29, 2021, https://www.mdrc.org/intervention/sectoral-training; “Linked Learning 101: Frequently Asked Questions,” All4Ed, November 11, 2015, accessed December 29, 2021, https://all4ed.org/publication/linked-learning-101-frequently-asked-questions/.
159 Opportunity@Work and Accenture, Reach for the STARs: Realizing the Potential of America’s Hidden Talent Pool (Washington, DC: Opportunity@Work, 2020), https://opportunityatwork.org/our-solutions/stars-insights/reach-stars-report/#get-report.
160 Michael D. Tanner, “Education and Workforce Development,” Cato Institute, October 21, 2021, https://www.cato.org/study/education-workforce-development.
161 Oren Cass, “Stop Pushing College,” New York Times, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/fix-america-economy-climate-health#oren-cass-stop-pushing-college; Oren Cass, The Workforce-Training Grant: A New Bridge from High School to Career (New York, NY: Manhattan Institute, 2019), https://www.manhattan-institute.org/workforce-training-grants-vs-undergraduate-degree.
162 John Stossel and Maxim Lott, “Stossel: The College Scam,” Reason, May 29, 2018, https://reason.com/video/2018/05/29/stossel-the-college-scam/.
163 Madeleine Carlisle and Sunya Mansoor, “Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions in Another Blow to Voting Rights Act,” Time, July 1, 2021, https://time.com/6077449/supreme-court-voting-rights/; Ari Berman, “Eight Years Ago, the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. Widespread Voter Suppression Resulted,” Mother Jones, June 25, 2021, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/06/eight-years-ago-the-supreme-court-gutted-the-voting-rights-act-widespread-voter-suppression-resulted/.
164 Michael Waldman et al., Strengthening the Voter Rights Act: Overview (New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice, 2022), https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/voting-reform/strengthening-voting-rights-act.
165 Nick Pinto, “The Bail Trap,” New York Times, August 13, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-bail-trap.html.
166 Timothy R. Schnacke, The Fundamentals of Bail: A Resource Guide for Pretrial Practitioners and a Framework for American Pretrial Reform (Washington DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2014), https://nicic.gov/fundamentals-bail-resource-guide-pretrial-practitioners-and-framework-american-pretrial-reform; Shaila Dewan, “When Bail Is Out of Defendants’ Reach, Other Costs Mount,” New York Times, June 10, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/us/when-bail-is-out-of-defendants-reach-other-costs-mount.html.
167 Pinto, “The Bail Trap.”
168 Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Shaila Dewan, “When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion,” New York Times, March 31, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/us/bail-bonds-extortion.html.
169 Kamala Harris and Rand Paul, “Kamala Harris and Rand Paul: To Shrink Jails, Let’s Reform Bail,” New York Times, July 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/opinion/kamala-harris-and-rand-paul-lets-reform-bail.html; See the original study from Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Developing a National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment (New York City, NY: Laura and John Arnold Foundation, 2013), 1, https://cjcc.doj.wi.gov/sites/default/files/subcommittee/LJAF-research-summary_PSA-Court_4_1.pdf.
170 See Arpit Gupta, Christopher Hansman, and Ethan Frenchman, “The Heavy Costs of High Bail: Evidence from Judge Randomization,” Journal of Legal Studies 45, no. 2, (2016): 471, https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/jls/vol45/iss2/8.
171 Will Dobbie, Jacob Goldin, and Crystal S. Yang, “The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges,” American Economic Review 108, no. 2, (2018): 234, https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20161503.
172 Mary T. Phillips, A Decade of Bail Research in New York City (New York, NY: New York City Criminal Justice Agency Inc., 2012), 116.
173 Jesse McKinley and Ashley Southall, “Kalief Browder’s Suicide Inspired a Push to End Cash Bail. Now Lawmakers Have a Deal,” New York Times, March 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/nyregion/kalief-browder-cash-bail-reform.html.
174Jennifer Gonnerman, “Kalief Browder, 1993–2015,” New York Times, June 7, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kalief-browder-1993-2015.
175 Shaila Dewan, “When Bail Is Out of Defendants’ Reach, Other Costs Mount,” New York Times, June 10, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/us/when-bail-is-out-of-defendants-reach-other-costs-mount.html.
176 Harris and Paul, “Let’s Reform Bail.”
177 Vanita Gupta and Lisa Foster, “Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Law Enforcement and Fees,” (US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for Access to Justice Office, 2016), https://web.archive.org/web/20160714124827/https://www.justice.gov/crt/file/832461/download.
178 Jamiles Lartey, “New York Tried to Get Rid of Bail. Then the Backlash Came,” Politico, April 23, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/23/bail-reform-coronavirus-new-york-backlash-148299.
179 Patrick McGreevey, “Prop. 25, Which Would Have Abolished Cash Bail, Is Rejected By Voters,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/2020-california-election-prop-25-results.
180 Tom Simonite, “Algorithms Were Supposed to Fix the Bail System. They Haven’t,” Wired, February 19, 2020, https://www.wired.com/story/algorithms-supposed-fix-bail-system-they-havent/.
181 The Editorial Board, “Cash Bail’s Lonely Defender,” New York Times, August 25, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/opinion/cash-bails-lonely-defender.html.
182 Alan Feuer, “New Jersey Is Front Line in a National Battle Over Bail,” New York Times, August 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/21/nyregion/new-jersey-bail-reform-lawsuits.html.
183 Glenn Thrush and Shaila Dewan, “Waukesha Suspect’s Previous Release Agitates Efforts to Overhaul Bail,” New York Times, November 25, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/25/us/waukesha-wisconsin-brooks-bail.html.
184 In many cases in which there is consensus regarding the nature and extent of the problem, there may be disagreements about how to solve that problem. Very small differences in goals or objectives can generate large differences in prioritization preferences among implementation strategies. Ezra Klein has written illuminatingly about this problem in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Joseph G. Allen and Helen Jenkins, “The Hard Covid-19 Questions We’re Not Asking,” New York Times, August 30, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/opinion/us-covid-policy.html (“If the goal is getting to zero infections and staying at that level before dropping restrictions, one set of policies applies. If the goal is to make this virus like the seasonal flu, a different set of policies follows.”) The same is true of racial equity objectives.
185 House Budget Committee, “Opportunity Credits,” Budget House Republicans, November 16, 2018, https://republicans-budget.house.gov/budget-buster/opportunity-credits/, referencing the press release “Booker Announces New Bill Combatting Wealth Inequality,” Cory Booker (website), October 22, 2018, https://www.booker.senate.gov/news/press/booker-announces-new-bill-aimed-at-combating-wealth-inequality and John Reitmeyer, “Booker Plan Would Give Every American Baby Something to Bank On,” NJ Spotlight News, October 25, 2018, https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2018/10/18-10-24-booker-plan-would-give-every-american-baby-something-to-bank-on/?.
186 Eric Foner, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, 1st ed. (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2019).
187 Menendian, “What Constitutes a ‘Racial Classification’?”
188 Learn more about how affirmative action programs were declared unconstitutional from Lynn Ridgeway Zehrt, “A Decade Later: Adarand and Croson and the Status of Minority Preferences in Government Contracting,” National Black Law Journal 21, no. 1, (2009): 5–6, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2463815.
189 Johnson v. California, 543 US 499 (2005).
190 Jack Healy, “‘You Can Feel the Tension’: A Windfall for Minority Farmers Divides Rural America,” New York Times, May 22, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/us/black-farmers.html; Wynn v. Vilsack, __ F. Supp. 3d. __ (M.D. Fla. 2021).
191 My article on racial classification explains how to do this in more detail. See Menendian, “What Constitutes a ‘Racial Classification’?”
192 Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, 1:14CV954 (M.D.N.C. 2019); Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, No. 19–2005 (1st Cir. 2020), Fisher v. University of Texas, 579 US __ (2016).
193 john a. powell and Stephen Menendian, “Fisher v. Texas: The Limits of Exhaustion and the Future of Race-Conscious University Admissions,” University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 47, (2014): 899, https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol47/iss4/2/.
195 Lani Guinier, “From Racial Liberalism to Racial Literacy: Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Divergence Dilemma,” The Journal of American History (2004), https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/library/publications/271.
196 Stephen Menendian and Caitlin Watt, Systems Primer—Systems Thinking and Race (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, 2008), http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/docs/systems_thinking_and_race_primer_july2009.pdf.
197 Peter J. May, “Policy Design and Implementation,” in Handbook of Public Administration, ed. B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003): 224, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Handbook_of_Public_Administration/XwBKkN3bXCUC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=policy+design+and.+policy+implementation&pg=PA223&printsec=frontcover.
198 Jonathan Grant, “Academic Incentives Research Impact: Developing Reward and Recognition Systems to Better Peoples’ Lives,” Paradigm Project (AcademyHealth, 2021), https://academyhealth.org/sites/default/files/publication/%5Bfield_date%3Acustom%3AY%5D-%5Bfield_date%3Acustom%3Am%5D/academicincentivesresearchimpact_feb2021.pdf.