The Washington Post

By Tracy Jan

January 17, 2021

“The city recognizes the history of land-taking in the area and is very sensitive to the need to go through an intensive process to give the community an opportunity to provide input for what that will look like,” Kamas said.

She acknowledged that the city failed to intervene before much of Greenwood passed into White ownership: “We’re in new territory. Historically, the city hasn’t even attempted to try to focus on those goals.”

“Everybody has a heightened awareness now of racial dynamics and inequity, and there’s a growing demand to change that and do so much more rapidly,” she said. “We recognize that shortcoming and want to find ways to remedy it to the best extent possible within the confines of our current legal framework.”

Economists who study race and public policy say it is impossible to fix ingrained racial inequalities with race-neutral practices. Policies that fail to consider race only cement existing disparities, they said.

“There is no such thing as race-blind economic development,” said Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and urban policy at The New School in New York. “Capital itself positions people and businesses to better take advantage of economic development. And we have a history in which whatever capital Black people would have amassed was literally massacred in a terrorist uprising 100 years ago.”

Without factoring in corrective policies, government officials are not truly recognizing the continuing harms of the massacre, economists say.

“To the extent that race was used as a criteria for the exclusion and depression of Black achievement, how do you not use race as a corrective?” said William Darity Jr., a Duke University professor whose research focuses on the economics of reparations.