By Darrick Hamilton and Danyelle Solomon



“…The outbreak of this deadly respiratory illness is especially worrisome for Black, Latinx, and other vulnerable communities.

These communities are disproportionately uninsured or underinsured and have fewer financial resources and employment benefits with which to weather this major public health emergency. Nothing demonstrates this vulnerability more vividly than the dramatic and persistent intergenerational racial wealth gap. The COVID-19 pandemic is another stark reminder that the next administration must address wealth inequality and make asset security a top priority.”

“When unexpected emergencies occur, an individual’s or a family’s wealth can provide them with protection. Wealth, especially liquid wealth—resources that can be readily converted into cash—allows individuals and families to respond to life events and unexpected expenses, such as loss of income and virtually any expenses that may result from a pandemic. Unfortunately, and unjustly, wealth has been unequally distributed in America. The typical white family has 10 times the wealth of the typical Black family and seven times the wealth of the typical Latinx family. This stark and persistent racial wealth gap leaves Black, Latinx, and low-asset people vulnerable; they are less likely to afford several days—let alone weeks—without income. And Black and Latinx households have fewer resources in case of an emergency, such as COVID-19 or future pandemics. It’s important to note that these communities lack wealth not because of individual choices but instead due to 400 years of collective harms by federal, state, and local governments compounding over time”

Policy Recommendations

“A long-lasting American structure of racially segregated occupations and jobs has repeatedly relegated Black and Latinx people to jobs with low and volatile wages; few benefits, including lack of health insurance; and limited agency in achieving flexible working conditions, which restricts their ability to work from home or take paid time off. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, policymakers should take the following steps:…”




Featured photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash