Developing a network of government focusing on racial equity is critically important to getting to different outcomes in our communities. The goal must be beyond closing the gap; we must establish appropriate benchmarks that lift up all populations while paying close attention to those often excluded. Implementing strategies to “close the gaps” from this perspective has been called “targeted universalism,” meaning improvements for all groups. Advancing equity moves us beyond just focusing on disparities. Deeply racialized systems are costly and depress outcomes and life chances for all groups.
- Although there are a disproportionate number of youth of color who do not graduate from high school, there are many white students as well. We have seen strategies that work for youth of color also work better for white youth, a truly systemic approach.
- Disproportions in the criminal justice system are devastating for communities of color, most specifically African-American men, but are financially destructive and unsustainable for all of us. Dramatically reducing incarceration and recidivism rates and re-investing funds in education can work to our collective benefit.
- When voting was/is constrained for black and brown voters, low-income white voters are also likely to be excluded. During the period of poll taxes and literacy tests, more eligible whites were prohibited from voting than blacks.
The goal is not to just eliminate the gap between white people and people of color, but to increase the success for all groups. Racial equity develops goals and outcomes that will result in improvements for all groups, but the strategies are targeted based on the needs of a particular group. Systems that are failing communities of color, are actually failing all of us. Targeted universalism will increase our collective success and be cost effective.