Economic Security

Racial equity work on economic security includes attention to wealth and poverty. Economic security is also sometimes defined as the distribution of opportunities such that individuals can meet their current basic needs, and are reasonably likely to be able to meet those needs in the future. Economic security crosses multiple issue areas, institutions and systems. For example, as described by the ILO (the International Labor Organization of the United Nations), economic security “is composed of basic social security, defined by access to basic needs infrastructure pertaining to health, education, dwelling, information, social protection and work-related security.”

This definition is helpful in two ways. First, it suggests some of the systems and institutions where there might be entry points for changing opportunities, policies and structures towards more equitable economic security. Second, the wording does not i [...]

Imagining New Economic Futures

Restorative Economics: A Values-Based Roadmap to a Just Economy
Nwamaka Agbo
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
Building Community Power through Collaboration and Iteration in Policy
Lauren Paul
Common Future,
Beyond Transition: Appalachia’s Pathway to Justice and Transformation
Highlander Research and Education Center
Building the Social Justice Architecture for Impact Investing
Millard “Mitty” Owens
Nonprofit Quarterly
Bioneer Reader: Our Economic Future
Out With Predatory Capitalism, In With a “Life Economy”
John Perkins
YES! Magazine
Gateway to Economic Liberation
Solana Rice, Mia Birdsong, et al.
PolicyLink; Netroots Nation; et al.
A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy: Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform
United Frontline Table
Our Economic Futures: Achieving More Equitable Society By Radically Rethinking Our Guiding Economic Ideas
Solidarity Economy
U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (US SEN)
Accelerating Equity and Justice: Basic Income and Generational Wealth
Tom Shapiro, Tatjana Meschede, Jim Pugh, Jamie Morgan, and Sylvia Stewart
Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP)
From Banks and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring: A Strategic Framework for a Just Transition
Movement Generation (MG) Justice & Ecology Project
Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide
Chuck Collins, Darrick Hamilton, Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, and Josh Hoxie
Institute for Policy Studies


A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy: Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform
Indigenous Environmental Network
Investors Want to Align Their Dollars with Racial Justice Demands
Oscar Perry Abello
Next City
Racial Equity in Co-ops: 6 Key Challenges and How to Meet Them
Jessica Gordon Nembhard
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
What Would It Mean for Investors to Take Racial Justice Seriously?
Andrea Armeni, Shante Little and Curt Lyon
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
How to Be an Anti-Racist Bank
Truth and Redistribution: How to Fix the Racial Wealth Gap, End Plutocracy, and Build Black Power
Darrick Hamilton and Naomi Zewde
YES! Magazine
Family Budget Calculator
Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
Racial Equity – Policy Design and Advocacy: A Primer
Solana Rice, Kamolika Das, et al.
Prosperity Now; Institute for Policy Studies (ISP)
Racial Equity Economic Security
Mary Virtue et al.
Community Action Partnership
Racial Wealth Learning Simulation: Webinar Re-Cap
Noelia Mann et al.
Building Movement Project
Reducing Racial Wealth Inequalities in Greater Boston: Building a Shared Agenda
David Bryant, Ginger Haggerty, Cynthia Parker, Mimi Turchinetz, and Esther Schlorholtz
The New Bottom Line: Building Alignment and Scale to Confront the Economic Crisis
Sean Thomas-Breitfeld and Marnie Brady
Building Movement Project
What Does the Economic Structure of the U.S. Look Like?
Paul Kivel


The “Long Awaiting”—Lifting Up Native Voices for Economic Justice
Raymond Foxworth
Nonprofit Quarterly
Tax Code So White
Ben Steverman on Dorothy Brown
Bloomberg Businessweek: Listen to the Story
Don’t Fixate on the Racial Wealth Gap: Focus on Undoing Its Root Causes
Anne Price
Insight and Roosevelt Institute
System Change: A Basic Primer to the Solidarity Economy
Emily Kawano and Julie Matthaei
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ)
State of the Dream 2019: The Perfect Storm
Ben Kreider, Richard Lindayen, Jasmine Gomez, Tomás Aguilar, et al.
United for a Fair Economy
The Asset Value of Whiteness: Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap
Amy Traub, Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, and Tom Shapiro
Demos; Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP)
The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy
Sarah Treuhaft, Justin Scoggins, and Jennifer Tran
PolicyLink; USC PERE
The Ever-Growing Gap: Without Change, African-American and Latino Families Won’t Match White Wealth for Centuries
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chuck Collins, Josh Hoxie, and Emanuel Nieves
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED); Institute for Policy Studies (ISP)
The New New Deal
Kirwan Institute
The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class
Emanuel Nieves, Chuck Collins, Josh Hoxie, and Dedrick Asante-Muhammad
Prosperity Now; Institute for Policy Studies (ISP)
The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide
Thomas Shapiro Tatjana Meschede Sam Osoro
Institue on Assets and Social Policy
The State of Communities of Color in the U.S. Economy: Still Feeling the Pain Three Years Into the Recovery
Christian E. Weller, Julie Ajinkya, and Jane Farrell
Center for American Progress
The Unfinished March
Algernon Austin
Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
Wealth Inequality in America
A Window of Opportunity II: An Analysis of Public Opinion on Poverty
Lucy Odigie-Turley, Melissa Moore, et al.
The Opportunity Agenda
Breaking the Bank / (Re)Making the Bank: America’s Financial Crisis and the Implications for Sustainable Advocacy for Fair Credit and Fair Banking
Manuel Pastor, Rhonda Ortiz, and Vanessa Carter
Kirwan Institute; USC PERE
Doubly Divided - The Racial Wealth Gap
Meizhu Lui
Dreams Deferred: How Enriching the 1% Widens the Racial Wealth Divide
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chuck Collins, Josh Hoxie, and Sabrina Terry
Institute for Policy Studies
Global Economic Exchange, Poverty & Race
john a. powell and S.P. Udayakumar
Laying the Foundation for National Prosperity: The Imperative of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
Meizhu Lui et al.
Insight Center for Community and Economic Development
Opportunity in Connecticut: The Impact of Race, Poverty and Education on Family Economic Success
Judith Carroll
Connecticut Association for Human Services
Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color
Maya M. Rockeymoore and Meizhu Lui
Commission to Modernize Social Security
Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules
Applied Research Center
Stacked Deck: How the Racial Bias in Our Big Money Political System Undermines Our Democracy
Adam Lioz et al.

“The racial wealth gap itself is an implicit and cumulative economic measure of our racist past. That past began with Blacks serving as capital and evolved into a system in which whatever capital Blacks may have established, in addition to their physical bodies, was always vulnerable to state-directed or facilitated confiscation. As a result of this, coupled with the state’s failure to protect them against White supremacist theft, destruction, and fraud, Black people have very little ownership of America’s land or means of production. Hence, a reparations program should include compensatory resources for Blacks whose ancestors were the victims of racist U.S. policies and state-sanctioned ‘vigilante violence.’”

~ Darrick Hamilton & Naomi Zewde, “Truth and Redistribution: How to Fix the Racial Wealth Gap, End Plutocracy, and Build Black Power” (YES! Magazine)


Wealth Inequality in America – politizane

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

  • Criminal Justice

  • Employment and Labor

  • Health and Healthcare

  • Language Justice

  • Reparations

  • Voting Justice and Democracy Building

  • Children, Families, and Youth Development

  • Economic Development

  • Environmental Justice

  • Housing

  • Media and Technology

  • Reproductive Justice

  • Community Planning: Land and Transportation

  • Education

  • Food Justice

  • Immigration and Refugee Rights

  • Philanthropy

  • Trauma, Violence, and Healing



In the context of racial equity work, accountability refers to the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.

To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process. Invisibility defies examination; it is, in fact, employed in order to avoid detection and examination. Accountability demands commitment. It might be defined as “what kicks in when convenience runs out.” Accountability requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.

SOURCE:  Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010). 

Related Resources:  Accountability

Location: PLAN / Change Process

Black Lives Matter

A political movement to address systemic and state violence against African Americans. Per the Black Lives Matter organizers: “In 2013, three radical Black organizers—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. [Black Lives Matter] members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” 

SOURCE:  Black Lives Matter, “Herstory” (accessed 7 October 2019).


When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression. 

Example: Able-bodied people who object to strategies for making buildings accessible because of the expense.

SOURCE:  Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (Routledge, 1997).

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.


  • Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).

  • City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

SOURCE:  Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Institutional Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Movement Building

Movement building is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct stages over a long-term period of time. Through movement building, organizers can:

  • Propose solutions to the root causes of social problems.

  • Enable people to exercise their collective power.

  • Humanize groups that have been denied basic human rights and improve conditions for the groups affected.

  • Create structural change by building something larger than a particular organization or campaign.

  • Promote visions and values for society based on fairness, justice, and democracy.

SOURCE:  Julie Quiroz-Martinez, From the Roots: Building the Power of Communities of Color to Challenge Structural Racism (Akonadi Foundation, 2010), citing the Movement Strategy Center, which offers these further definitions.

Related Resources:  Movement Building

Location: PLAN / Change Process


The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,

  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),

  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and

  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

SOURCE:  What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Racial Inequity

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing, such as the percentages of each ethnic group in terms of dropout rates, single family home ownership, access to healthcare, etc.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Racist Policies

A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Related Resources:  Laws and Policies

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / History of Racism and Movements

For specific topics, also see PLAN / Issues


States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them. Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse. Reparations publicly affirm that victims are rights-holders entitled to redress.

SOURCE:  International Center for Transitional Justice.

Related Resources:  Reparations

Location: PLAN / Issues

Structural Racism

  1. The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

  2. For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.


  1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).

  2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).

Related Resources:  Structural Racism

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

White Supremacy

The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Related Resources:  System of White Supremacy and White Privilege and Addressing Hate and White Supremacy

Locations: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts and PLAN / Issues