The Future Demands Change from Economic Institutions In The Face of #BlackLivesMatter
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Within our nation, systemic racism is an age-old problem, demonstrated most recently by the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The systemic oppression of Black people enables this form of direct violence at the hands of the police, along with countless other varieties throughout society at large. We need a vocal and action-oriented approach which shows you care that your Black colleagues do not walk through the world living in fear of how their lives are disregarded in America. We are reaching out because we are concerned with your immediate acknowledgment, coupled with meaningful action to address this issue.
As the future of the economics profession, we are demanding that institutions, such as the American Economic Association, Federal Reserve System, and National Bureau of Economic Research, commit to the following to begin addressing the racial inequities experienced by Black people by:
- Increased funding from the American Economic Association for Howard University, a Historically Black University, Economics Department which has been chronically underfunded and is the the only Historically Black University that offers a PhD program in Economics. Furthermore, Howard University is also one of the top producers of Black undergraduates majoring in economics and the top producer of Black (and Latinx) PhD students in economics. The infrastructure to support continued diversity is set up well, however, the lack of adequate funding remains a barrier. More can be done to support such a critical institution in sustaining an important pipeline.
- Commit to multi-year financial and strategic partnerships with organizations and journals dedicated to advancing the representation of Black people in economics such as the National Economic Association, which is the only organization for Black economists, and the Sadie Collective, the first non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the representation of Black women in economics and related fields.
- Every university must commit to establishing an undergraduate program, inclusive of targeted outreach to Black students, that provides students with access to tutors and resources for quantitatively demanding courses, research opportunities, doctoral students and professor talks, and the like. Universities and institutions can look to the University of Maryland System for examples of how to execute these types of programs: PADE Scholars (College Park) and Sloan Fellows (UMBC), both of which are similar to a widely-known STEM program for minorities also housed at UMBC, the Meyerhoff Scholars Program.
- Each Federal Reserve Bank must publicly commit to recruiting and hiring research assistants from at least five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) across the nation and the Sadie Collective membership annually.
- Furthermore, each Bank must develop and publish publicly a robust diversity and inclusion plan that disaggregates the data with respect to race and gender while adequately addressing the dearth of Black/African-American representation within the Federal Reserve System.
- The Federal Reserve System, whose 406 economists only includes one Black woman (2019), must commit to interviewing, hiring, and training qualified Black doctoral candidates through a Visiting Scholars Program. The Federal Reserve System should mandate a proportional representation of Black/African-Americans among their economists, researchers, and senior leadership within banks and the Board achieved by 2030.
- Establish an equitable and inclusive environment for Black economists at your institution through access to mental health services, funding professional and academic development resources for Black faculty and economists (e.g. DITE), and access to economics research networks that determine professional outcomes (e.g. NBER, IZA, BREAD). Hiring diverse economists is not enough especially when 33% of Black economists report feeling like they have been discriminated against within the field (AEA Climate Survey: Table 2B). Cultivating an inclusive and empowering environment to keep them is where longstanding, structural change occurs.
- Incorporate schools of economic thought that are designed to grapple with the current moment into undergraduate and graduate curricula. Making a concerted effort to go beyond mainstream economic thought towards those schools designed to address group-based inequality and other problems at the meso- level will both push the discipline to provide satisfactory answers to our current crises, and train the next generation of economists to address these and future crises with competency and confidence, rather than complacency and confusion. Feminist economics, stratification economics, institutional economics, and political economy all provide perspectives that could move the discipline as a whole forward but are currently understudied by the profession at large.
The American Economic Association must commit to honoring the legacy of Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander throughout the entire year of 2021 beginning in January in conjunction with the Sadie Collective and Black scholars, by doing the following:
- Publish a web page dedicated to Dr. Alexander and her journey through the economics profession on the front-page of the AEA website that is accessible via a tab;
- Communicate to the AEA’s membership in its entirety regarding the 100th anniversary of Sadie T.M. Alexander receiving her doctorate on June 6th, 2021 and celebrate her anniversary from henceforth; and
- Publicly acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the completion of her doctoral studies on June 6th, 2021 on social media platforms as well as the role that the economics community held in sidelining her contributions; and
- Dedicate a separate and recurring session during ASSA Meetings specifically for Black women in economics and related fields to present research and honor the legacy of Black women economists beginning with the 2021 ASSA Meetings.
During this critical time, which side of history will you stand on?
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