Be sure to rebuild all of our communities as we fight structural racism – Marin Independent Journal

In her brilliant new book, “The Sum of Us,” Heather McGhee presents a simple concept: Not much will change in the growing inequality of our country until people of all races – including whites – realize that racism is costing us all and we must come together to lobby for racial justice.

We need to understand that from the start race has been used to divide us on almost everything – voting, employment, housing, health care, immigration – with particularly devastating effects on all working and low-class people. income, especially African Americans. and other communities of color.

The lasting impact of structural racism – of policies and systems designed to harm people of color, deny them access to resources, and block them from decision-making processes – continues to this day. On average, people of color still have less money, less wealth, and less access to healthcare (the list goes on), and the pandemic has exacerbated those conditions.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to demonstrate how fragile our public health and safety net systems are, and how closely our health is tied to where we live, work and play. All the mainstream media and countless reports have decisively documented how the pandemic has disproportionately harmed communities of color and poor people of all races.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that: “Hispanics, blacks, American Indians and Native Alaskans are at least twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as their white counterparts. California Healthline reported that communities with relatively high poverty rates have experienced COVID-19 infection rates two to three times higher than those in wealthier communities.

If we want everyone to prosper, we must realize that promoting racial equity benefits us all. Here is a proof. According to advocacy group PolicyLink, “America’s gross domestic product would have been $ 2.1 trillion higher with racial equity, an increase of 14%. This is roughly the size of the California economy, the eighth largest in the world.

PolicyLink has found even more dramatic potential gains at the regional level. The 150 largest regions of the country could collectively increase their GDP by 24% by tackling racial inequalities. Los Angeles has the most to gain: 510 billion dollars a year. Even the smallest potential payout – in Springfield, Missouri, where the population is 91% white – is nearly $ 300 million.

As a program director with The California Endowment, I lead the foundation’s strategy to promote inclusive community development, which is a fancy way of saying that we want to create healthy, safe and prosperous neighborhoods for all people in every city. city ​​of our state.

It is a daring vision for which our partners fight on a daily basis. From San Diego to Fresno to the northernmost parts of our state, our partners organize community residents, workers, and youth in diverse communities to create and promote a shared vision for California that benefits everyone.

We have an incredible opportunity right now. California will receive approximately $ 150 billion in federal resources to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $ 263 billion budget that includes $ 100 billion that promises to invest in the state’s most pressing challenges: housing insecurity, jobs, health care, schools. public, climate change and infrastructure.

Bottom Line: The money is there to build a healthy state that should be the envy of the world, and we must face this moment by putting communities first and investing equitably in community-based solutions that center the priorities. , the leadership and the ideas of those closest to the health and economic problems that we are experiencing.

Health is more than a visit to the doctor. It is clean water, air, housing, jobs, sidewalks, parks and recreation centers. Many of our partners working in cities and rural communities across California hard hit by economic and health crises know what it takes to rebuild and recover in a more sustainable, healthier, and more just way.

We cannot let this opportunity pass by. We are fortunate to bring real change through the power and wisdom of community members. We all need to recognize how connected we are and how we all thrive when everyone is included.

Ray Colmenar is the Executive Director of Inclusive Community Development at the California Endowment.

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