The Black Lives Matter reckoning has mainly focused on the too-high probability that African Americans will be on the receiving end of deadly police force. But other racial inequalities — in health care, education, housing and broader economics — are equally entrenched in this country, demanding powerful correctives by our government. Tuesday, President Joe Biden made a good start.
It is an insult to the American values we purport to hold dear: The net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a typical Black family. Nor can that gap be closed merely by equalizing educational opportunity, or expanding homeownership, or helping young people accumulate savings, or helping strengthen family structures, or helping promote entrepreneurship. Control for all those factors, and the chasm remains.
Only an approach that attacks the problem from every angle can begin to build a country where Black and white children have genuinely equivalent chances to excel. So applaud Biden for Tuesday launching, as he marked the centennial of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street” massacre, a first-ever interagency effort to probe inequities in home appraisals and issue new rules to combat housing discrimination. As our friends at Newsday discovered in their groundbreaking “Long Island Divided” series, bias built into real estate, even when subtle, keeps neighborhoods split along color lines.
In Biden’s infrastructure plan, $14 billion in grants would be aimed at combating transportation-
related barriers to mobility, which is inextricable from economic mobility. In his jobs package, more than $30 billion would go toward increasing access to capital for small businesses, with special priority on those owned by people from disadvantaged communities.
And because the federal government is the world’s top purchaser of products and services, Biden would use the bully wallet to direct far more federal contracting dollars toward minority-owned businesses.
Some Americans want to turn every mention of “systemic racism” into a new chance to supercharge white grievances. Ignore them. The racial opportunity gap is real. It demands a battle plan.