If you look back at 2020, the most frequently used modifiers were “unexpected” and “unprecedented.” Yet, the racial and gender inequities are not new. The burden of the pandemic and of economic costs disproportionately borne by people of color, women and essential workers reflect persistent economic and power imbalances. As we move into the third wave of the pandemic this holiday season, I hope you and your family continue to be safe and that the post pandemic comes soon with renewed hope for a better future.  With the election certified, a transition happening, and the positive news of vaccination, there begins to be light at the end of the tunnel and the possibility of positive change in the New Year.

Philanthropy and our communities will have the opportunity to focus on the gaps in crisis response (depending on what relief tenants, unemployed and small businesses receive in a stimulus package), facilitate efforts to distribute a vaccine in disinvested and excluded communities, and build investments supporting systemic equity in income and wealth building.

My reflection on AFN’s analysis and advocacy to reimagine the economy and its frameworks require ending public and private wealth stripping, reducing debt burdens, increasing health, and introducing a new American dream that is fair regardless of skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, or zip code. In turn that leads me to the following top ten wish list:

  1. Release Federal Student Debt up to $50,000 for each borrower,
  2. Increase Investments in CDFIs for Small Businesses – sustained multi-year new investments by banks and corporations through CDFIs for small businesses especially those led by people of color and women,
  3. Fix Retirement – Grow Secure Choice, Increase Social Security and SSI, and make investments needed for economically secure retirement,
  4. Equitably Expand the Pipeline into College – connect efforts to build aspiration and support for portable college credits that explicitly widens the pipeline to children of color and first time college students with the goal to produce a more prepared workforce without debt,
  5. Achieve Better Health Outcomes – ensure everyone has regular and affordable health care restricting medical debt through affordable and portable, if not universal, health insurance coupled with medical debt reforms,
  6. Expand Equitable Home Ownership – expand supports for small dollar mortgages, deposit assistance, shared land or maintenance pilots, expansion with an equity lens for Black, Latinx and Asian households,
  7. End Fees and Fines – as an inefficient, regressive, and inequitable source of limited net income for local governments that mostly serves to ruin credit and opportunity for community members,
  8. Enable Reentry to Work – returning to community is most successful with an economic focus — limit negligent hiring liability, incent employers to hire, fund the needed services,
  9. Support Real Income Growth through guaranteed income, higher wages reflecting the value of the work, and greater EITC supports, and
  10. Explicitly Embrace Racial Equity in philanthropic and governmental decision making to achieve systemic reform and investments such as Baby Bonds, Immigration Reform with a path to citizenship for our neighbors, TPS restoration for many immigrants and their American families throughout the nation.

Of course, my New Year’s wish for all of us is that our systems and leaders (public and private) act to stop sowing seeds of a new generation of inequity.

We need the private sector to acknowledge its role in building inequity and to act on its capacity to reverse it.

We need to overcome the resistance to discuss and support efforts to right size income taxes to help government adopt equitable solutions needed at scale.

Looking ahead, my hope is we all find the renewed energy to act affirmatively:

  • to recognize the limits of our sector, but to not underestimate our influence and power.
  • to expand options and expand horizons by embracing a philosophy of abundance.
  • to look hard at how we can leverage our tools and resources in communities and regions.

This December, find your resilience, flexibility and creativity. Equity is achievable and the movement is occurring.

Join us in these efforts as we move into 2021. Together we can accelerate the path of the arc of justice.

Be safe, be fearless.

Joe Antolin

READ MOREDecember 2020 AFN Newsletter