July 12, 2019

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In recent years, some American cities, like Pittsburgh, have been transformed by legions of tech jobs. But even as these one-time industrial cities reinvented themselves, many residents - including those who are part of communities of color - have been excluded from the prosperity and growth that have been ushered in along with the influx of jobs and investment.

Andre Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, explain some of the reasons for these sorts of disparities in wealth, wages and opportunity between minority and white communities, and propose a radically different way forward.

Three Takeaways:

  • Perry and Black believe that racial bias plays a significant role when it comes to who benefits and who is left out of the innovation economy. Perry says that many predominantly black communities have strong assets, but that they have long struggled with negative perceptions and are often devalued. Black points to bias in the hiring process
  • Large wage gaps between minority and white communities are bad news for everyone, according to Black, particularly given projections from the census about the nation becoming a “majority-minority” population by 2045.
  • Perry says that those who have been excluded from economic prosperity because of the legacy of racism need to mobilize and begin “demanding their fair share.” He also thinks  it will take courageous policy making to empower communities that have been disenfranchised and to remove barriers to wealth formation and economic growth.

More Reading:

  • The Brookings Institution has an interactive map that explores how geography plays into economic opportunity and prosperity nationwide.
  • Find out more about efforts to change what Black describes as a “racially segregated economy” in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota where she works.
  • Perry explains how his hometown of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania was left out of an “urban tech boom” enjoyed in parts of Pittsburgh, which is adjacent to Wilkinsburg.

Business, Andre Perry, Tawanna Black, diversity

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