July 19, 2019

Hoyer Co-Hosts Roundtable on Racial Equality

Racial Equality

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) led the Maryland congressional delegation in a roundtable discussion June 14, 2018, with experts on Racial Equality from the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and Associated Black Charities to talk about potential federal policies that could help close the growing racial wealth gap in Maryland and across the country.

The lawmakers who attended heard case studies about successful local and state partnerships, as well as essential questions that can increase the likelihood of racially equitable policies being developed. Public policy, throughout the country’s history, has played a role in both creating and dismantling structural and institutional barriers that disproportionately affect marginalized groups, including racial minorities.

“I appreciated the opportunity to join with my colleagues from Maryland in a wide-ranging discussion on ways we can work to close the racial wealth gap in our state,” said Congressman Hoyer (D-Md., 5th). “Congress must be doing all that it can to ensure every American has access to economic opportunity, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the delegation to break down barriers to opportunity for all Marylanders.”

Sen. Cardin said he believes Congress can do more to mitigate the widening income gap due to race. He said the key is to ensure quality education, health care, and housing to all Americans. “I thank my colleagues, as well as the Associated Black Charities and Maryland Center on Economic Policy, for taking time to share some of the proven ways to increase income and wealth for Marylanders, especially the minority community that has historically been locked out of so many of these foundational economic opportunities. Team Maryland recognizes that this is not a new phenomenon but the wealth gap has been growing and we must do all we can to knock down the institutional barriers that have helped perpetuate this divergence,” said Sen. Cardin.

Another participant in the roundtable, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), echoed the previous sentiments about the importance of working together at the federal, state, and local level to make real changes to reduce inequality. He said the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and the Associated Black Charities are doing important work that addresses this issue.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md., 2nd) said minority families tend to earn less money, and it’s also statistically more difficult for them to rent homes, get bank loans, and buy health insurance. He said public policy has a role in creating these barriers to the American dream for certain groups, therefore public policy can play a role in fixing the problem.

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md., 3rd) said it’s time to eliminate the barriers to good-paying jobs, high-quality education, affordable health care, and the chance to fully participate in our democracy. “It was encouraging to meet with leaders in Maryland today to discuss these important issues and highlight key policies and reforms that can help create a more just and equitable nation,” Congressman Sarbanes said.

“We must do more across the nation to reverse the racial wealth gap, and Maryland should be at the forefront of that effort. As policymakers, we should ensure we’re putting in place the systems necessary to promote economic equality and broaden opportunity for all of our communities,” said Congressman John Delaney (D-Md., 6th). “I’m grateful to the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and Associated Black Charities for today’s discussion and leading on this critical issue.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md., 8th) said the US government has been a key and deliberate actor in the actions of segregation in federal housing the armed forces, race discrimination in farm policy, and federal employment. The only progress in the country has been made at tumultuous times, like the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Great Society, but at those times the federal government championed racial justice and economic opportunity and inclusion for all. “We need a resurgence of federal action to make America its best self,” said Congressman Raskin.

“Far too many people of color are still not participating in our state’s growth or benefiting from our nation’s success, and this racial injustice impacts us all,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md., 7th). “We must address the effects of historically unjust public policy and implement inclusive strategies that will empower disenfranchised communities and narrow the wealth gap.”

“The Maryland congressional delegation once again proves how far ahead they are in their thinking and desire to maintain Maryland as a competitive state by exploring the use tools that provide a racial equity framework,” said Diane Bell-McKoy, president and CEO of Associated Black Charities. “We know with the increasing and projected demographic growth of brown and black people in Maryland and across the country, it will be important that our policies support their economic advancement which in turn benefits all of Maryland’s citizens.”

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For more information about House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader page.

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