By Adedayo Akala
Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion.
Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It’s not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year (Read more).
By Ben Hecht
As protests sweep the United States, it’s clear that returning to “business as usual” will not be good for business. In just a few days, countless companies that don’t talk about racism publicly have spoken out to condemn racism and police brutality. Employees of color have openly called out racism in their own institutions. On this critical issue, neither consumers nor employees are looking for vague platitudes about change; they want to see companies committing to action within their own walls. Achieving racial equity in the workplace will be one of the most important issues that companies will tackle in the coming decade.
This became evident to me months ago, when I spoke with almost two dozen executives of Fortune 500 companies. My goal was to understand if and how they were thinking about racial equity as part of my work at Living Cities, a nonprofit focused on closing income and wealth gaps in America. The vast majority affirmed that racial equity was an obvious business imperative. But less obvious was what to do about it. With traditional diversity interventions failing, these leaders — the majority of whom were white — reported feeling ill-equipped, even afraid, to act (Read more).
By Alonzo Plough, Gail C. Christopher
The social upheaval we’ve seen as thousands of protesters fill our streets is indicative of American culture being challenged. States are passing new laws, cities are considering calls to defund the police, Confederate statues are being removed, and holidays like Juneteenth are being more formally recognized. From the symbolic to the substantive, culture is where lasting change begins, and where it is sustained.
We are collectively experiencing the combined burden of the disproportionate health and economic impact of COVID-19 on Black and brown populations as well as systemic racism resulting in unarmed people of color being targeted, brutalized, and killed by citizens and law enforcement at alarming rates. Our nation seems to be waking up to a fact we’ve long known: A culture of racial injustice and a culture of health cannot co-exist. Culture reflects and embodies the most deeply held values and beliefs of those in power. The most persistent, yet tacit and denied, belief in US culture is the permission to value some people more than others. This belief has led to systemic disinvestments in communities of color, which have increased vulnerability to COVID-19 and allowed police to continue to unjustly kill Black and brown people (Read full article).
By Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich
RICHMOND, Va. — On a hot summer’s day, the neighborhood of Gilpin quickly becomes one of the most sweltering parts of Richmond.
There are few trees along the sidewalks to shield people from the sun’s relentless glare. More than 2,000 residents, mostly Black, live in low-income public housing that lacks central air conditioning. Many front yards are paved with concrete, which absorbs and traps heat. The ZIP code has among the highest rates of heat-related ambulance calls in the city.
There are places like Gilpin all across the United States. In cities like Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Portland and New York, neighborhoods that are poorer and have more residents of color can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, whiter parts of the same city (Read more).
By Elie Mystal
Now comes the part where white people abandon us. Now comes the part where the white majority impatiently demands a return to normalcy. Now comes the part where white people say, “I believe that Black Lives Matter, but…” Now comes the part where white people start literally telling Black people to stop protesting because some “bad” people are also protesting.
In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, white people seemingly joined Black people in their calls for justice and change. But that support was always soft. It was entirely predictable that most white people would abandon the movement long before justice was done or change achieved. It was so predictable that I, in fact, predicted it back in June. I knew a majority of white people would revert to form and regress to their mean, because a majority of white people were always going to value their own comfort over justice for Black people (Read more).
By Elizabeth Gulino
On Wednesday, August 5, Detroit Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially signed an order declaring racism a public health crisis, reports The Detroit News. The Michigan city joins 19 states, including Texas, Colorado, and California, and a growing number of cities and counties across the U.S. that have also pointed to racism as a determinant of health, according to the American Public Health Association (Read more).
By Althea Legaspi
By Vidya Rao
When Tina Sacks worked for the Centers for Disease Control years ago, she and her Black female colleagues would make it a point to wear their government IDs when going to the doctor for checkups, to telegraph that they were professionals who understood medical terminology, and had good health insurance — all so medical staff would take them seriously. “In other words, we were playing against a type,” Sacks wrote in her book “Invisible Visits,” which looks at the biases middle-class Black women face when seeking health care.
Sacks, now an assistant professor at the Berkeley School of Social Welfare, says that not much has changed since then. The 30 women she interviewed for her book echoed the experiences of many of the women we interviewed for TODAY’s “Denied” series. Their concerns about their bodies are dismissed or ignored; they are often met with suspicion from doctors; they have to “prove” they are in pain and not seeking drugs; they aren’t thoroughly examined; and they aren’t told about the full array of treatment options available to them (Read more).
When someone wants to explain where the country’s been since Memorial Day, they refer to The Moment. “The Moment,” at first, seemed to name a finite period, the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and the moments his death comprised. “The Moment” then proved spongy quick, absorbing the bewildering madness of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and expanding into more protests in more corners of the planet than seemed fathomable. (The demonstrations took place during a pandemic; The Moment had swelled inside a Moment.) It appealed to people whose response to such Moments has tended to be less than vociferous — white people. White people marched and chanted. They ate tear gas and pepper spray. White people said “Black Lives Matter,” “systemic racism” and, occasionally, “reparations.”
Questions arose about what The Moment was and what should be asked of it. The Moment brought us new vision to see old wrongs and emboldened us to raze and ruin them. The Moment reversed power. Mayors stood among civilians, the police took a knee, a president had been absconded into a bunker. This Moment was the sort that Black America had been waiting for — when the woke learned to walk, when the Confederate flag ceased official operation as a security blanket, when even a beloved music trio had to concede that “Dixie” no longer becomes them (Read more).
By Linda Villarosa
hen Kilynn Johnson walks out the door of the house her parents bought in 1972, where she grew up and lives to this day, she steps into the warm embrace of a community where neighbors feel more like kin. Her home sits across the street from Stinger Square Park, where Johnson passed long days of her childhood playing alongside her siblings and cousins and friends. But by age 8, diagnosed with asthma, she spent more time sitting on the sidelines, watching the other children tumble on playground equipment or rip and run through the park. Once in a while a neighbor, Ms. Sylvia or any number of Black mother figures whom Johnson and everyone knew never to call by just their first names, might come by and check on her. “You doing all right, Kilynn?” they would ask the quiet little girl.
Near the end of 2015, Johnson felt short of breath and wondered whether the asthma that plagued her when she was a child had flared up once again. By the last week of December, she was able to leave her house on the corner of Dickinson Street and South 32nd Street, in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philadelphia, only once, to drag herself to church on New Year’s Eve. Three nights later, she began vomiting uncontrollably. At sunrise, she managed to call her former partner, Tony, and could get out only one word: “Hospital.” (Read More)