$100 bill with masked Ben Franklin

The stimulus package Congress passed and the President finally approved provides essential first aid but leaves inequities untouched

Can we agree that white men are not the economy? If that’s something we agree on, why do stimulus packages seem to be tied to the fate of white men more so than any other group?

When the unemployment rate for white men was 12.4% in April, the CARES Act flew through both houses with impressive bipartisan support and a massive amount of money.  When that rate dropped last month to 5.9% for white men, but stayed in the double-digits (11.2%) for Black men, the conversation shifted to debates about a “skinny” bill and concerns about the national debt.

This happened during the Great Recession, too. Lots of federal support was flowing into the market in the early years, but when the federal government pulled back in 2011, the white male unemployment rate was 8% while the black male unemployment rate was 16%.

Never mind the billions of dollars in lost economic activity that the 2011 decision cost our economy over time, there are parts of our country that still haven’t recovered from the 2011 decision … which added fuel to the political fire of those who feel left behind by both parties.

It’s easy to go down a very dark path with regard to the motives behind these Congressional decisions, but at a time when the racial wealth gap is front and center, the current stimulus package leaves us massively disappointed.

How does a 30-day extension of eviction prohibitions provide sustainable relief? Rental assistance is great, but what about the homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages or the students who need to make loan payments?

We’ve had months to watch the cracks in our society widen and allow everyone to see what’s been hidden in the crevices below; and this is the best we can do?

We pray that 2021 will bring courage and empathy to Congress so that they can implement the kind of structural reforms necessary to put us on a path towards an equitable recovery.