Black Community Receives No Federal COVID-19 Aid
The theme of this blog post is racial realism in Black finance—the persistent anti-Black barriers that keep the Black community from gaining equitable access to capital. In previous posts, we highlight the Washington State Housing & Finance Commission (WSHFC)'s anti-Black funding policies (including its initial plan to exclude all Black projects from its 2021 quarter billion dollar allocation). That is, we highlighted how anti-Black racism impacts the Black community's access to capital in a local institution.
At the federal level, one of the largest and least-elevated stories is the immense, anti-Black wealth transfer of the federal COVID-19 relief programs. Specifically, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP awarded over $542 billion in aid to U.S. businesses and organizations to incentivize retaining employees. Less than two percent of that aid reached Black-owned organizations!
To contextualize, Black wealth in 2020 remains near zero due to centuries of systemic anti-Black racism. COVID-19 predictably hit the Black community harder than most, and yet, the massive federal tax dollars used for relief wholesale failed to reach Black communities. Instead, the funding went overwhelmingly to wealthy white communities, only further compounding existing racial wealth, economic, and health gaps.
Now, within this context, consider what it took for local Black organizers to force the City of Seattle to invest at all in Black communities. It took massive amounts of historic advocacy, strategy, free labor, free political education, coordination, sacrifice, and more. And ultimately, after such Herculean efforts, the Black community received peanuts in very public aid, that was immediately audited by the State.
This is racial realism: the perpetual, unrelenting anti-Black racism baked into every facet of our society. And this is why King County Equity Now was formed: to combat racial realism in King County by (i) vigorously calling out anti-Blackness in all forms, at all institutions; (ii) organizing with local Black community to elevate equity solutions that, when followed, will lead the Black community to measurable markers of equity; and (iii) ensuring such solutions are put into practice.
Within this context, contrast the funding path to the hundreds of billions in funding that went out freely and wholly unscrutinized to wealthy white communities in the PPP program; or the Seattle Police Department (SPD)'s formerly $400 million budget that City Council admitted to never auditing for over a decade; to the immeasurable amount of free labor from local Black organizers to force the City of Seattle to invest at all in Black communities.
When you look at these things side by side, racial realism in Black finance starts to clearly take shape. Take action to combat racial realism in finance below.