In 2019 and 2020, EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE), in partnership with the Groundwork Collaborative and the Center for Popular Democracy, hosted a seven-part workshop series titled, “Turning Good Intentions into Constructive Engagement on Race.” Workshops were led by scholars, writers, advocates, and activists from across the country and attended by Washington, D.C.- based policy analysts, advocates and researchers working to more effectively center racial and economic justice in their work and organizations.
This volume adapts content from the workshop series into an online resource that can be accessed by a wider audience of researchers, policymakers, organizers, activists, advocates, journalists, and others. It includes a collection of essays that discuss principles for centering race and ethnicity in research and policy or cover topics specifically relevant to Asian American, Black, Latinx, and Native American communities. As informed by the author’s area of expertise, some essays are written to a more technical audience of economic researchers and data users, such as essays on interpreting the race variable in empirical analysis and on enhancing data collection to better represent the Hispanic population in the United States. Others are written through the lens of community organizing or policy and politics (explaining the need for race-conscious policies and the barriers to anti-racist coalitions). Finally, some essays delve into race and political economy, exploring how new policy paradigms advance growth in Native American communities and are needed to address the structural forces that limit opportunities in Black communities. The essays are introduced with a piece on how a reckoning with the centrality of race in the social and economic structures of the United States turns economic research on racial disparities into critical evidence in support of those new paradigms. Essays link to the related workshop recordings, where applicable, and conclude with a list of author-recommended resources such as articles, books, videos, podcasts, and subject-matter experts. (Note that the capitalization treatment of racial and ethnic groups follows EPI’s style, rather than those of the individual contributors.)
The last chapter is an interactive chartbook that provides a statistical snapshot of race and ethnicity in the United States. The chartbook depicts many of the racial/ethnic disparities referenced in various essays as observed through: (1) population demographics; (2) civic participation; (3) labor market outcomes; (4) income, poverty and wealth; and (5) health. Most charts include data for five racial/ethnic groups: white, Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN). The chartbook also highlights some notable intersections of gender with race and ethnicity, including educational attainment, labor force participation, life expectancy, and maternal mortality. The findings are bracing, as they show how much more work we need to do to address longstanding and persistent racial inequities.
Each of the essays in this volume can be viewed as discussions that commonly take place among different groups of people but involve intersecting themes. In bringing each of these discussions and relevant data points together in one place, the guide aims to facilitate the consideration of race/ethnicity from alternative perspectives, spark honest introspection and discussion among stakeholders, and trigger new areas of inquiry and new collaborations that seek answers to previously unasked questions. That is the process for building a more inclusive base of knowledge that informs research questions and methodology, use and interpretation of data, and policies that promote equity and economic justice. That is how we turn good intentions into constructive engagement on race.