JULY 2019

Changing Systemic Realities to Create Economic Opportunity and Prosperity

I do not normally reflect on the political context of the moment as I write about correcting income inequality, closing gender and racial wealth gaps, and the changing systemic realities to create opportunity and prosperity.

My concern as I write this is that the President of this country has chosen to single out women, who are citizens and members of Congress but also women of color, with a deeply offensive, uncivil, racist, and taunting diatribe. Apparently, he is doing so because he disagrees with their exercise of their first amendment rights to criticize and recommend changes to policy and systems in this country.

As a person of color who represents the third generation of US citizens in my family, I cannot be silent, just as I hope it does to anyone in philanthropy or who is reading regardless of their politics.

That this occurs at the moment when the U.S. Women’s World Cup Champions team is shining a light on the indefensible systemic bias and discrimination that steals from them equal pay when it is unrelated to success or income generated is also significant.

Just like the team and the legislators, we all have a duty to shine a light on what we think needs to be fixed.

So, my point is not about agreeing or disagreeing, rather it is condemning racist appeals, and instead reflecting upon the obligation we all have to honestly condemn what is wrong. Without doing so, we are unlikely to develop the solutions to correct what is driving economic immobility, insecurity, inequality, as well as legacy and current economic expressions of bias and discrimination based upon race, gender, LGBT status, disability and color.

At AFN, our members and allies are acutely aware that the upstream solutions will require innovation and rethinking systemic levers. If we stay on the pathway our economy is currently on, without fundamental systemic change, the widening wealth gaps and economic instability will only grow.

We know where we need to be.

Workers need to have disposable income after having met their needs to be able to invest in assets; governments need to ensure the systems exist to provide a basic infrastructure for civil society and to restrain predatory excesses that erode assets of consumers, financial institutions need to make both capital and tools equitably available for wealth building, higher education needs to be an aspiration and achievable, and philanthropy can be the courageous sector to call out racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia to foster norms of equity and closing the racial and gender wealth gaps.

Without the work we can do, the pathways already paved will limit our success. Let’s work together to maximize the return on investment! Refer to AFN’s resource materials listed below for promising strategies on income inequality and how together we can help close the gender and racial wealth gap.

Women & Wealth: Insights for Grantmakers

On Shaky Ground: Stabilizing the Financial Security of Single Women

Clipped Wings: Closing the Wealth Gap for Millennial Women

Unlocking Assets: Building Women’s Wealth Through Business Ownership