COVID-19 Resilience

Building Longer-Term Community Resilience Through Equity

Disparities thrown into sharper relief by this crisis deserve long-term solutions, not short-term patches. If we are to meet this moment in our country’s history with courage and conviction, we must begin making bold, innovative and systemic change for the generation we are educating now and those that come behind them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than half of all children are non-Hispanic white. The major demographic changes on the horizon undoubtedly require us to focus on racial and economic equity.

To move communities in the South toward longer-term resilience, E Pluribus Unum supports bold policy to:

  • Close racial wealth and income gaps;

  • Expand healthcare access and affordability;

  • Expand economic supports for low-income working families;

  • Fight disparate environmental impacts in low-income communities; and,

  • Permanently reduce jail populations.

The enduring legacy of American slavery and de jure segregation is today’s enormous racial wealth gap. On average, a typical white family has 10 times the wealth of a typical Black family. Black households headed by an individual with a bachelor’s degree have just two-thirds of the wealth, on average, of white households headed by an individual who lacks a high school degree. Further, Black median household net worth is a fraction (8 percent) of white median household net worth. As a result, many low-asset people are more vulnerable and less likely to be able to afford days or weeks without income. Workers of color, for example, consistently earn lower wages and are more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. Nationally, full-time workers of color earn 23 percent less than their white counterparts. With this unjust and nagging economic disparity in mind, almost 30 percent of Black college-educated households are not able to afford to pay all their bills after a $400 emergency expense.

The racial wealth gap has exacerbated other inequities, related to health, environment, and housing. The suddenness of this pandemic has accentuated that, despite education level, many in these communities possess fewer financial resources to endure the undeniable economic hardships created, and the federal, state, and local governments must mitigate COVID-19 related expansion of the existing racial wealth gap.