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A year ago, I finished my grad degree at Princeton. It got me thinking about how much I learned and how much I had to unlearn to be anti-racist in economic policy. A THREAD ON HOW ECON ASSUMPTIONS CAN UPHOLD RACIST SYSTEMS:
The economic crisis and the renewed attention on anti-racist movements are not two separate “moments we’re in.” One way to think of the two is to talk about economics' diversity problem. It’s real and it’s something I experienced first hand.
But, there are fundamental problems in economics that prevent it from promoting anti-racist public agendas. Here are some (not all) of the assumptions in traditional approaches to economics, when not interrogated, uphold systemic racism, in my view:
1-That the aggregation of individual activities constitutes a whole picture.
2-That a policy’s effectiveness is measured by what it does to market equilibria. This assumes that a lack of change is the goal. Focusing on “balances” or “netting out" obscures disproportionate impacts and experiences.
3-That behavior and ideas are revealed individual choices rather than the way we uphold institutions, norms and policies.
*See @jhacova 's work on the relationship b/t the geography of Confederate streets signs and labor market outcomes for Black folks digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_dis…
4-That there are universal, self-evident laws and that institutions and context don’t affect the manifestation of those “laws” or, moreover, create them.
5-That these self-evident laws tend toward optimal outcomes.
6-That value is equal to price.
7-That everything has an inherent economic value and, therefore, a cost or price. (Recognizing that some things with economic value is not counted — like gendered work)
8-That marginal changes are a sufficient scale of studying economic realities.
9-That everything that is relevant to economics is objectively observable. i.e. you can measure racism if it’s there.
10-That a researcher can achieve perfect objectivity in their work and that Black economists (and others from marginalized communities) are inherently biased when they don’t uphold the white-led consensus view.
11-That past isn’t prologue.
There are tons of Black researchers who’s work interrogates these assumptions. Here are just some of them: @drlisacook @jazdhill @trevondlogan @sandydarity @DarrickHamilton @EDerenoncourt @daniafrancis @Nina_EBanks @jhacova
Let's all commit to spending more time interrogating our assumptions and actively be anti-racist (rather than "not racist" which isn't a thing).
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