Turning the Floodlights on the Root Causes of Today’s Racialized Economic Disparities Turning the Floodlights on the Root Causes of Today’s Racialized Economic Disparities

By Regional & Community Outreach department members*

The recent episodes of racial injustice compel the members of the Boston Fed’s community development team to draft this field note about the conditions of racism that underlie so many disparities in our economy. In the note, we acknowledge that 2020 has dramatically exposed the pervasive structural racism in U.S. policies, practices, and institutions. We believe we cannot achieve our mandate of full employment for all without addressing these barriers. What distinguishes this moment from previous calls for racial justice, the note states, is a cross-racial awakening to this hard truth that our present-day society was and still is intentionally shaped by racism. In recent years, the Boston Fed’s Community Development team has intentionally focused on addressing root causes of these inequalities, leading us to commit to a deeper understanding of the racist policies and practices that have contributed and to call attention to them. This field note casts floodlights on some of the most egregious incidents of racial injustice in our country’s history that helped create and continue to perpetuate today’s stark economic disparities and social unrest. The team’s rationale and current strategies for dismantling racist systems and our ongoing efforts in this vein are also discussed.