By: Thomasi Mcdonald

April 17, 2020

“Darity offered several “universal polices” that the federal government could enact to help all Americans, along with one that specifically targets racial wealth disparities. He said, if implemented, these policies would have better positioned the country to face the pandemic.

He said he’s been a longtime advocate for an economic bill of rights, a national health plan, and a federal jobs guarantee. He spoke of the need for new initiatives like the multi-billion-dollar Works Program Administration, the New Deal agency that FDR created in 1935.

Henry McKoy, an economist and director of entrepreneurship at N.C. Central who has collaborated with Darity, told the INDY that race-based health and economic disparities laid bare by COVID-19 could accelerate gentrification trends that the city was experiencing before the pandemic crisis. He added that unless local leaders take action, the pre-pandemic decline of black wealth in the city will also accelerate.

“Rent payments will be missed and folks will be evicted,” he says. “Mortgage payments will be missed and homes will be lost. Black folks have a high rate of sole proprietorship as their form of business and entrepreneurship, and their incomes have dried up completely. The small black businesses that had employees will also suffer and may close down. This will have a broader impact on the black community’s economic ecosystem, and that may mean kids can’t get the resources to go to college or start their own businesses.”

McKoy says time will tell how the virus affects recent initiatives like the city’s $95 million affordable housing bond that voters approved in November. He pointed out that less attention has been paid to the loss of municipal revenue generated through hotel, restaurant, and sales taxes.”

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