Science Magazine: Book examines role of racial justice work in progressive policy changes

By working together, economic and racial justice organizers in the last decade have brought about policy changes to address economic inequality, researchers report in a new book.

A pathbreaking look at how progressive policy change for economic justice has swept U.S. cities

[In Justice at Work,] Doussard and Schrock say that racial justice organizing has changed the way activists work toward policy changes. Historically, community organizers focused on a single issue, whether it was fair wages or affordable housing, and used negotiation and dealmaking to effect changes. They downplayed discussing race for fear the volatile issue would erode support for their positions, Doussard said. That approach changed with the racialized foreclosure crisis in the late 2000s and the Great Recession, he said.

“The worst loans were made in communities of color. Their foreclosure rates were through the roof. At the same time, austerity budgets starved those same communities of the resources they needed,” Doussard said. “Every problem seemed to be connected through racism.”

Racial justice work offers an umbrella language to talk about those connected problems, he said.

“Racial justice is really effective for talking about issues of finance. That’s important because austerity and budget cuts have always been an issue in cities,” Doussard said. “If you talk about alternative funding models, people’s eyes glaze over. If you say a policy is discriminatory, people get it.”

Read the full article at Science Magazine.