Segregation. Economic displacement. Environmental racism.
We haven’t had just had a sorry past of racial inequity here. We’ve had a woeful present. As Seattle got more prosperous, we failed to desegregate. We perpetuated excess exposure to pollution among people of color, especially African-Americans. And, on balance, the latter have lost ground on access to opportunity and wealth-building here (see Resources for data and points of view).
These are some of the same conditions contributing to shocking racial disparity the harm done by COVID-19.
We shouldn’t have tolerated them prior to coronavirus. But now, knowing that there will be another pandemic sometime down the road while–in the meantime–our region will offer outsized economic opportunity to those who have full access to it, a return to the status quo ante would be monstrous.
The next round of tech-fueled growth here should be laser-focused on making good the damage done. African-Americans, other people of color, and people with less rather than more income and wealth should be able to live where they want, near good jobs, without the burden of disparate exposure to air pollution and other environmental hazards. Here are ideas for how we get there.