The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy was born out of the Rewriting the Racial Rules report that examines the racial rules—laws, policies, institutions, regulations, and normative practices—that undergird our economy and society.
With Hidden Rules, the Roosevelt Institute seeks to do many ambitious things. First, we unite the conversations around economic inequality and racial injustices that have unfolded over the last few years, in large part because of important work by the Occupy movement and the leadership of the Movement for Black Lives. Second, we add to current political conversations by illustrating the inextricable links between race and economic well-being in America, showing how racism is built into the very foundation of our economy and drives persistent inequities and injustices. Any efforts to address economic inequality in America must account for the racial exclusion built into our economy. Finally, we explain how rules have been rewritten for the better throughout our history—both Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement yielded tangible progress for black Americans—but also how each wave of progress has been followed by a period of backsliding.
Today, as white supremacy is on explicit public display in streets across the nation, it is more important than ever to remind policymakers and the public that there is a very real (often hidden) set of rules perpetuating racial inequities. These racial rules are rooted in the earliest days of our nation. If we have both the insight and the courage, we can change those rules so that all Americans benefit. No economic agenda for a better America can be blind to race. And, as civil rights leaders have always put forth, racial justice must include better jobs and more economic stability for all. In a period of what feels like perpetual defense, all of us must be even bolder and more tireless if we are to rewrite these rules.