The story behind many established American cities remains the same: a tale of two cities is the upsetting yet reoccurring reality, as Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity, says. Industrialized cities, if examined thoroughly, portray the bustling aspect, inhabited with economically solid individuals and the contrastingly forgotten community expanding underneath the poverty line.
Unfortunately, the growing population of the latter group, dominated primarily by African Americans and Latino Americans, yields quite an issue for the successful growth of cities. Fifty years ago, during the historic March on Washington, the poverty rate of African Americans was nearly three times the rate among whites at a bulky 27%. Depressingly still, 45% of African Americans born into the United States middle class will end up in poverty, according to a shocking survey conducted by Pew Research Center.
Social mobility is actually hurting these citizens who have been neglected in the past. By the year 2043, the majority of Americans will be of color; if this increasing population continues to be left behind, class distinctions will inevitably be lost. There will be no middle-class – just a vast American wilderness full of lost citizens currently suffering as low-income inhabitants. In this impending chapter of America, how can the nation survive? The future of a nation is not strong if heightened attention is not paid to the ethnicities who are left behind; America can only be as powerful as an equal society allows.
“A society in which ALL – black and white – can prosper. That is what equity means to me.” (Blackwell)
The role of the federal government creates a platform for the nation to build off of. Blackwell discussed how to invest in infrastructure and education to ensure America’s equitable sustainability by using the role of the federal government wisely.
“We [as the people of the United States of America] are NOT a poor country, and we need to stop acting like one,” Blackwell says.
Suggesting a few more strategies for moving forward equally and seize the promising benefits, Blackwell urges cities to be deliberate in moving forward. After setting the goals, measuring the impact, and holding themselves accountable, progressive cities can express this plan of action.
“EVERY community needs to be a community of opportunity,” Blackwell stresses as she hopes to gain support in caring for the poverty division of a city correctly.
Of immense importance in this support is the act of cities making it a point to identify the victims of social injustice. Metropolitan areas cannot be afraid to identify victims, as Blackwell cautions. These individuals carry the knowledge that others need in order to provide assistance; the listeners need to understand the barriers so that they can be eliminated.
Using tactics of democratic participation, Blackwell stresses the importance of dealing with equity front-and-center. Social justice is the key to the everlasting positivity of not only the nation but also the entire world.
As Blackwell says, “The future is in our hands, if we can just do the right thing.”