Policies to Confront Inequality Must Account For Challenges Specific to Women of Color, New Report Argues

NEW YORK, NY – As the Trump administration and congressional Republicans prepare to dismantle the social safety net, the Roosevelt Institute today released a new report in partnership with the Ms. Foundation for Women “Justice Doesn’t Trickle Down: How Racialized and Gendered Rules Are Holding Women Back.” The report examines the specific, entrenched barriers threatening the health, safety and economic security of women of color and explains why policy proposals focused solely on class and economics will not reduce the inequities those women face.

At the center of the report is the premise that because women of color are more likely to experience disparities across all major social and economic indicators, addressing the challenges specific to their experiences will require a broader, deeper approach than race- and gender-neutral policies offer. At the same time, because these challenges are driven by broader social and economic structural rules that disadvantage women and people of color, a race-conscious, gender-conscious approach will be more fundamentally transformational and effective in bringing about a more just and equal society.

Following last year’s election, some called on the progressive movement to abandon so-called “identity politics” in exchange for a more universal approach to policy that blurred the distinctions between race, gender, immigration status, etc. This report delves into why any progressive economic vision must acknowledge, and ultimately rewrite, the rules of racism and sexism that undergird our economy and society and lead to vast inequities for women of color. Through scholarly and historical analysis, and case studies of Ms. Foundation grantees, organizations working at the intersection of economic security, health, and safety, the report makes clear that advancing social justice in the Trump Era – and beyond – will require a commitment to bold, targeted policy solutions that center those who have long been marginalized.

“We are in a moment of great peril for women, and particularly for women of color, across the United States,” said Andrea Flynn, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the report’s author.  “Without a holistic approach that accounts for the lived experiences of women of color and how they interact with our economy, criminal justice and immigration systems, and health care and educational systems, we will inevitably come up short. A class-only approach will fail those who already experience the greatest economic and social inequities, and who are most threatened in the current political moment.”

“As the stories shared in this report show, trickle-down justice is a myth. We simply cannot ignore that identity impacts oppression. Such an approach not only implicitly denies the long history of women of color-led organizing but also fails as a tool to effectively push back,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “We need to be candid and clear about how current political attacks threaten the most vulnerable among us. But we must also center and amplify the voices of women of color who are fighting back. Together, we can rewrite the rules and ensure we won’t go back.”


About the Roosevelt Institute

Until economic and social rules work for all Americans, they’re not working. Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines the rules to create a nation where everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We are a 21st century think tank bringing together multiple generations of thinkers and leaders to help drive key economic and social debates and have local and national impact.


About the Ms. Foundation:

For more than 40 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has secured women’s rights and freedoms with a special commitment to building the power of low-income, immigrant and women of color. The foundation invests funds, time, expertise and training in trailblazing organizations nationwide.