We need to have hard conversations about race and difference. We need to have them about privilege. I see families with special needs children everyday. We will always need to help others. We need to talk about racism. When we talk about racism, we need to talk about WHY it is still an issue and WHAT are we doing to ensure that every person feels empowered to be, just be. There is so much happening in the world and we cannot just sit back and think it is going to be taken care of. This could be an incredible time of understanding and change if we educate ourselves. Privilege is real. If your great grandparents owned a house, you had access to opportunity. Our government made sure that people who were not white had a harder time buying a home. This is fact. Neighborhoods were not created by choice.
Recently, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, as part of the Institute's "Getting to the Point" speaker series. A PDF copy of the remarks is available here, and the full text is below, as prepared for delivery.
"I have often spoken about how America built a great middle class. Coming out of the Great Depression, from the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up for most Americans. But there's a dark underbelly to that story. While median family income in America was growing - for both white and African-American families - African-American incomes were only a fraction of white incomes. In the mid-1950s, the median income for African-American families was just a little more than half the income of white families.
And the problem went beyond just income. Look at housing: For most middle class families in America, buying a home is the number one way to build wealth. It's a retirement plan-pay off the house and live on Social Security. An investment option-mortgage the house to start a business. It's a way to help the kids get through college, a safety net if someone gets really sick, and, if all goes well and Grandma and Grandpa can hang on to the house until they die, it's a way to give the next generation a boost-extra money to move the family up the ladder.
For much of the 20th Century, that's how it worked for generation after generation of white Americans - but not black Americans. Entire legal structures were created to prevent African Americans from building economic security through home ownership. Legally-enforced segregation. Restrictive deeds. Redlining. Land contracts. Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class, but systematic discrimination kept most African-American families from being part of it," said Senator Warren.
But it isn't just black Americans today with this issue, it is something our immigrant communities can relate to. What can we do to help create a healthier community? Be aware. Speak out when someone says something that bothers you. Don't take what you have been given, just by being you, for granted. Help others if you can. Lean into your own prejudice. Get to know someone different than you. Listen to their story. When my kids ask me what racism is, I want to give an educated answer. I want to explain as best as I can to why their is so much to be done. I want them to be aware of their privilege and if they can help heal and create change in our community, our world, they should.
This is a great video too.