Key Points

The galvanizing public murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Hispanic people have put structural racism and its influence on wealth inequality in the U.S. into stark relief. As multiracial groups express outrage at these visible disparities, we risk missing the other side of the coin: that wealth inequality in turn fans structural racism. Moreover, as they reinforce each other, these two factors erode the social, economic, and political viability of our democracy. Understanding and then breaking this vicious cycle are essential to realizing our renewed commitment to a country that works everyone.

This article seeks to draw renewed attention to the damaging impacts of wealth inequality, its root causes, and strategies for overcoming it. More broadly, it presents proposals for what leaders in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors can do to assert our country’s underlying moral values of self-reliance and community, rebuild our devastated economy in a way that works for all citizens, and reestablish reason and fairness in the political sphere.

This article specifically applies systems thinking to identify the root causes of wealth inequality, including structural racism, and then proposes four primary strategies for both fairly distributing and generating new wealth.

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Support of this open access article is provided by Bridgeway Partners.

Open Access