June 21, 2019

Racial inequalities are a multi-dimensional issue. It's a reality that impacts income, economic opportunities, access to education and even access to health. The poverty rate for black households is 13 percentage points higher than that of white households, and even though some candidates to the 2020 election have mentioned some interesting plans to address this gap, there is still a need for a plan that addresses the full extent of the issue.

The economic impact

Concretely speaking, racial inequalities translate into an income gap. The income gap between black and white households hasn't changed much since the 1960s in spite of progress in other areas.

Wage stagnation is an issue that affects everyone regardless of race, but minorities are more likely to miss out on economic opportunities due to discrimination and geographical inequalities.

Access to education

Students at their graduation ceremony.

Access to education has improved, but a college degree isn't enough to bridge the income gap. There is still a significant difference in terms of graduating from college since 46% of black students graduate while white students have a graduation rate of 69%.

The income gap is still a reality for college graduates. On average, black college graduates earn 25% less than their white counterparts.

Access to health

Minorities face a number of barriers that negatively impact access to healthcare. Because of been some improvements linked to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the disparity between uninsured black persons and uninsured white persons decreased by four percentage points between 2013 and 2015.

However, there are still 32.3 million uninsured people of working age and 55% of them are people of color.

How are inequalities perceived?

A survey asked whether or not people agreed with the statement that black employees are treated unfairly in the workplace. Twenty-two percent of white respondents agreed with the statement while this percentage went up to 64% among black respondents.

Another question asked respondents if they thought that black persons were treated unfairly when dealing with police. A majority (84%) of black respondents agreed with the statement while 50% of white respondents agreed.

These two examples illustrate the discrepancy in perception of inequalities and the need to draw attention to those issues.

Addressing racial inequalities

A woman reading a book.

Some state-level initiatives have sought to make education more accessible and equitable, mainly by focusing on test scores and implementing strategies to help students of color improve their test scores.

The most recent education reform is the creation of an adversity score for the SAT. This adversity score has its pros and cons, but it could help colleges take into consideration the socioeconomic disadvantages that some students face.

The 2020 campaign could see some interesting propositions to address different social and economic issues that disproportionately impact minorities. Here are a few examples of key issues that candidates have mentioned so far:

  • Elizabeth Warren has mentioned a plan to offer universal child care.
  • Juli├ín Castro wants to tackle the issue of access to housing.
  • Kamala Harris' tax plans could benefit low-income households, and potentially improve the economic situation of some black households.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand has drawn attention to the high maternal mortality rate among black mothers.

The 2020 campaign could be an opportunity to bring attention to racial inequalities and to the need for a comprehensive plan that addresses the entire scope of the issue. It's Up to Us has been advocating for better fiscal policies to curb the federal debt and use funds to address economic and societal issues. Learn more about our programs and consider getting involved to raise awareness for the issues you care about.