Finding the path to racial justice

CBJ Editorial

We appear to be at a seminal point in our nation’s understanding of race relations and diversity.

The horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis has deeply troubled and saddened us. The subsequent peaceful protests have elevated the discussion in a meaningful way, and we’re hopeful that concrete steps can be taken to eliminate these racial injustices once and for all.

Without changes to our nation’s power structures, the Corridor and our country will continue to stagnate economically, politically and socially.

It appears that some of these changes are starting to happen.

We salute the cities of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids for their willingness to begin the process of reforming local policy, and to peaceful protesters for working to affect change and awaken us all to the hard work that remains ahead.

We were also pleased that the Iowa Legislature unanimously passed and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a comprehensive police reform bill that puts tougher restrictions on the use of chokeholds in arrests and prevents police officers fired for misconduct from being hired in the state.

We encourage all businesses and organizations in our communities to take time to engage in dialogue and reflect on the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, and to consider what they can do to create a more inclusive economy where opportunity is available to all.

Lastly, we agree with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan, who recently said that systemic racism has held the U.S. economy back from reaching its full potential.

“A more inclusive economy where everyone has opportunity will mean faster workforce growth, faster productivity growth, and we’ll grow faster,” Mr. Kaplan said in a recent television interview.

Diversity, in all its forms, is good for business. Real racial justice is too.

Tackling economic inequality

We often tout Iowa’s favorable rankings, but not all are so positive. With the death of George Floyd and its aftermath, WalletHub analyzed data on the 50 states and the District of Columbia to see how they compare on measures of economic equality between the races.

Iowa did not fare well, placing No. 47. New Mexico was ranked the best, while the District of Columbia was ranked worst.

Iowa also ranked poorly in two of the eight categories. Iowa was No. 47 in the highest median annual income gap and No. 49 in highest poverty rate gap.

We take state or community rankings, whether good or bad, with a certain amount of skepticism, but the poor showing for Iowa should give leaders pause. This is particularly true because economic inequality is a root cause of many other social problems, from educational inequality to higher incarceration rates for black Americans.

Hopefully, the business community and state leadership will look at these numbers, find them unacceptable and look for meaningful solutions. CBJ