Giving Compass’ Take:
• Natalie Spievack and Cameron Okeke argue that by naming what creates and maintains racial disparities, we can challenge harmful narratives.
• Why aren’t the discussed points in this article already common practice? How can funders work to close the gaps identified in this research?
Many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have emphasized the role of historical and contemporary discrimination in creating and perpetuating disparities between Black and white Americans. This discourse underscores the critical responsibility of all public voices—including researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and journalists—to consistently use their platforms to call out the root causes of racial disparities.
When we name the historical and contemporary policies and practices that create and maintain racial disparities, we can challenge harmful stereotypes and narratives that shape the way people of color are perceived and treated.
Making this consistent practice can help produce effective solutions by rightfully shifting responsibility for disparate outcomes from people of color to systems of oppression.
Contextualizing disparities challenges harmful narratives
America’s dominant cultural lens and narrative centers on white people and portrays the country’s past primarily as a story of social innovation and progress.
Within this narrative, modern problems like poverty and crime are individual and communal failings, and, by extension, racial disparities are indicative of poor choices or behavioral patterns, not historical and continued discrimination. This narrative minimizes or erases the impact of the human trafficking and bondage of people of African descent and the subsequent terrorizing and humiliation of Black people through violence, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow. And it implicitly perpetuates the belief that white people are doing better because they are inherently better or are working harder, laying the bedrock for white supremacy.
Read the full article about how to talk about racial disparities by Natalie Spievack and Cameron Okeke at Urban Institute.
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