NEW YORK, NY – Earlier today the Roosevelt Institute and Cambridge University Press released The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy. This book explains how historic racial exclusions in law and policy (the “rules”) continue to shape our economic realities and prevent the United States from achieving a fully inclusive, growing, and vibrant economy.
Hidden Rules arrives as debates over racial inequality and economic inequality are at a fever pitch in the United States. In these debates, both race and economics are often actively pitted against one another, as though one, and not the other, should be the priority for advocates and policymakers. This is a false choice—and one that is not new in American political history, but has renewed relevance today.
This book shows the ways racial inequality and economic inequality are inextricably linked throughout American history and in the realities of the current political moment. Broadly, the book explains why making progress on either issue requires taking on and addressing both. It also specifically shows how race-based rules have harmed communities of color and led to disparities ranging from wealth creation, education, health care, and criminal justice.
“Economic health and racial equality are two sides of the same coin, not an either-or proposition,” said Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute and the book’s co-author. “Any vision or plan to truly improve the economic lives of working people cannot be race-blind; we must account for race precisely because of the ways in which racial exclusions have been baked into our policies and politics. And any approach to bringing about greater racial justice must have a clear, bold economic dimension that goes well beyond what the political class is currently offering.”
“Hidden Rules is a welcome addition to the discussion about how we can both understand and alter the long American trajectory of racial inequality,” said Sandy Darity, the renowned scholar and economist based at Duke University. “For far too long, policymakers and researchers either have ignored or grossly—and perhaps intentionally—misanalysed the reality that is presented with such clarity in this book. This reality is tragically enduring, and its pernicious results include the stubborn persistence of the racial wealth gap, a ‘hidden’ but insidious force that damages the prospects and well-being of millions of Americans of color. We cannot hope to remedy this situation if we don’t speak honestly about what created it. This book can greatly inform and facilitate that conversation.”
“While many communities are hurting economically, we must acknowledge how the economy has disproportionately failed and continues to fail communities of color,” said Andrea Flynn, a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the book’s co-author. “Racial inequality is not inevitable and it is not an accident of history. It is a choice we have made with our politics and our policies. For more than two centuries our policymakers have written rules that have created patently unequal life chances for people of color. This book illustrates the depth and breadth of those rules, the impact they have had on black Americans and reminds us of moments in history when we rewrote our rules to create a more fair and inclusive country.”
“The status of people of color are the ‘Miner’s Canary’ for the overall health of American democracy. And the rules of our economy and society directly affect the life chances and opportunities for communities of color,” said Dorian Warren, a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the book’s co-author. “There are many important ways that ‘we the people’ can fight for justice in the United States, but at its heart, the fight for a more just and equitable America has always hinged on expanding who is truly considered an American, on who has a real chance at knowing inclusion, opportunity and security. This book helps to clarify that fight by explaining how a colorblind economic vision, or a sole focus on racial justice without economic justice, will both inevitably fail. These two fights are far too bound up in one another to be confronted piecemeal. Hidden Rules is a powerful guide for understanding our society and economy and how to make them both work better for everyone.”
About the Roosevelt Institute
Until economic and social rules work for all Americans, they’re not working. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines the rules to create a nation where everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We are a 21st century think tank bringing together multiple generations of thinkers and leaders to help drive key economic and social debates and have local and national impact.