“Racial Equity” is a term that has been highly publicized in recent weeks. The country’s new president, Joseph Biden, has made the term an important policy initiative, with a promise to make an effort “to eliminate racism in every branch of the White House and the federal government.” During the height of the racial protest in 2020, activists, journalists, intellectuals, and public policymakers also elevated the use and importance of the term.
As we enter another “Black History Month” February, “Racial Equity” seems to be the latest popular term – like previous terms of “Integration”, “Black Power”, and “Inclusion” – to explain the final destination of America’s long quest to fully atone for the original sins of slavery and legal segregation.
The simple Wikipedia description for the term is that it “occurs when institutions give equal opportunities to people of all races.” However, definitions provided by several non-profit institutions appear to increasingly promote the term as a process, which purposely reinforces sustained efforts to break down familiar (but racist) practices.
Racial Equity as a concept makes providing equal opportunities and systemic results a crucial management component for any and all government and business institutions. It features a socially-conscious management team which values equal opportunity for all employees, and promotes equity in results for suppliers, investors, consumers, and the general public.
The concept defines a system in which any and all people have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential as individuals, and where there are no discernable disparities – in income, wealth, education or health.
One does not have to look far to find that current conditions in this society indicate just how far equity is from reality.
- A huge wealth gap persists between African-Americans and whites, with the median net wealth of black families ($17,000) amounting to less than one-tenth of that for white families ($171,000), according to a highly-publicized 2019 study by the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee.
- The median annual household income for black households in 2018 was $41,692, compared with a median income of $70,642 for white households, according to a 2020 report by the Joint Economic Committee.
- In the 2016-17 academic year, 44% of the nation’s black students attended schools in high-poverty areas, compared to 8% of white students, according to a 2019 study by the National Center for Education Statistics.
It should be noted that all of these indicators predated the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has likely exacerbated these indicators. Indeed, within the last few days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that while African-Americans comprise over 15% of Covid-19 deaths, only 5% of inoculations of recent vaccines have been given to members of that community.
The new Biden Administration, which is undoubtedly the most ethnically and culturally diverse to ever inhabit the White House, has promised to make Racial Equity an interwoven process in all of its Cabinet and sub-Cabinet level agencies. Several major U.S. corporations have also made major racial equity commitments, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars – including Amazon, Sony Music Group, Nike, and Google.
As has been the case historically during periods of prominent efforts of African-American
advancement, it is yet to be determined how long the commitment by society will last. However,
it is up to those of us in the community to keep pushing for racial equity in all of its forms.
The United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. is the only Black federated non-profit organization in Cleveland Ohio. It was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1981. Founded in 1969 by Judge George W. White with one concept in mind, be the one organization to secure financial support for other agencies servicing the Black community.