Despite Minnesota’s economy showing signs of recovery, we know we still have work to do to achieve economic prosperity for all.
The fact remains that Minnesota has among the highest racial disparities in the country on a range of indicators. For example, in 2013 Minnesota’s median household income increased to $60,702, but there are stark disparities in income by race: $63,028 for white households versus $31,021 for black and African American households and $35,764 for American Indian households. The disturbing pattern of inequity persists in other areas including education attainment, employment and health outcomes.
The good news is that policy solutions to address racial disparities have been identified, with those impacted at the center of the discussion. Voices for Racial Justice works with communities of color and American Indian communities from around the state to determine what policy solutions will best advance racial equity in Minnesota.
Voices for Racial Justice recently published their 2015 Racial Equity Agenda, which highlights policies including:
- Creating healthier work-life balance by supporting earned sick and safe time for workers currently forced to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of themselves and their families. Currently, 41 percent of Minnesota’s workforce does not have earned sick time, including about half of people of color in our workforce.
- Expanding health coverage to undocumented immigrants. Currently undocumented Minnesotans cannot access support through MNsure, often forcing them to resort to care in emergency rooms with high out-of-pocket expenses.
- Allowing Minnesotans to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status — making safe, lawful driving an option for all residents.
- Supporting Minnesota’s councils of color as critical voices for equity in public policy and important connectors to communities of color. Voices for Racial Justice supports the councils continuing as separate entities and having sufficient funding in order to be successful building bridges between their communities and state policymaking.
As we get into crunch time in the legislative session, the Voices for Racial Justice 2015 Racial Equity Agenda and Bill Watch serve as great resources to those who want to prioritize community-identified policy solutions that advance racial equity in our state.