• Josh Devine

Resolutions Don’t Equal Reparations: Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is



Let’s talk about wealth—community and resident wealth—and post-COVID inclusive recovery.

Asheville, North Carolina is funding reparations for its black residents, says the media whose narrative treads harshly over the historic realities of ‘Black Ashevillians’ and their demands for real change. The City Council missed the mark with empty promises of urban renewal and the erasure of efforts to mitigate current racial tension and police brutality. Be it intentional or otherwise, Asheville is one of many communities challenged with the inability to meaningfully confront economic injustice. Understandably so, as the systemic nature of these issues no one can tackle in a day. Yet, there is a lot more saying than there is doing - and there is a lot that can be done.


Note to self: resolutions do not equal reparations.


It is no secret the wealth inequalities that exist in America today. The rich are getting richer as the share of wealth among middle incomes fall; racial gaps are getting worse as median net worth of black families have continued to decline; and poverty is persistent, as neighborhoods with 30 percent or more of the population living in poverty has doubled despite recent economic expansion. It is also no secret that COVID-19’s impact has weighed disproportionately on Black and brown communities, in terms of health and diagnosis and the economic aftermath of business closures and unemployment.


As communities prepare for COVID relief, post-pandemic recovery, and the role reparations play in dismantling economic injustice, there is an opportunity to make lasting, meaningful change that moves the needle on equity.

As communities prepare for COVID relief, post-pandemic recovery, and the role reparations play in dismantling economic injustice, there is an opportunity to make lasting, meaningful change that moves the needle on equity. It starts by turning an eye towards wealth and wealth creation.

Wealth is defined as the value of assets of worth owned by a person, company, and/or country. McKinsey outlines four key elements that contribute to a family’s ability to build wealth: community context, family wealth, income, and savings.


Using this wealth-generation framework, here are some investments a community should consider putting money toward:


Invest in Communities of Color

Consider reinvesting in assets—cultural and economic—within communities of color, to turn the tide on homes in these communities that have historically been undervalued (according to a 2018 Brookings report). Lower home values make it harder for Black families to accumulate wealth, and feeds into a cycle of community disinvestment and impacts on generational poverty.


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