Minneapolis Fed Chairman on Capitol Riots: ‘Crudest Example of Racism’

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The riot on Capitol Hill last week offers a “stark example” of racism in the United States, according to a powerful economic policy maker. “What we saw last week on Capitol Hill was obviously a shocking threat to our democracy, the whole world is outraged by that,” said Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “But I just have to say, in my opinion, if those were black armed militants storming the United States Capitol, I think they would all be dead right now,” he said.

“That is the clearest example of racism and disparities in our society,” he added. Kashkari’s comments, which came during a virtual event Tuesday focused on structural racism in education, echoed a contrast observed by many after the uprising on Capitol Hill: that participants in the largely peaceful protests of Black Lives Matter during the summer were greeted with rubber bullets, while armed rioters, mostly white, were able to storm the Capitol with relative ease. Tuesday’s event was part of a larger series on racism and the economy hosted by the Federal Reserve banks of Atlanta, Boston and Minneapolis. Banks launched the seven-part series in October, recognizing the role played by the assassination of George Floyd, which inspired protests this summer, in encouraging stakeholders to tackle systemic racism. Since the series is hosted by Federal Reserve banks, it focuses particularly on how addressing racism can improve economic opportunity. Tuesday’s session highlighted the potential for a more equitable education system to boost economic growth. “A more inclusive society means better growth and prosperity for our entire country, but to achieve this goal, we must address entrenched barriers to educational opportunity,” said Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, during the event. . “Moving forward in this effort will help us reach our maximum economic potential as a nation.” But the event also highlighted the challenges that stakeholders face in embedding systemic racism and its consequences in education. Gaps in educational attainment and access to quality education by race and income have persisted for decades, probably only widening as a result of the disruption of schools by the pandemic. These gaps have implications for children’s ability to improve their economic position relative to their parents. In addition, access to quality education is based on a variety of other factors influenced by systemic racism, including segregation of housing and discrimination in the labor market. As some of the speakers at Tuesday’s event pointed out, it is difficult for education to play its role as a tool for economic mobility without addressing some of these other variables. “We need to change the way we finance education,” said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “In the United States, most of our funding occurs locally, that wouldn’t be a problem if we were fairly evenly distributed across the country in terms of income and race, but that’s not how we’re distributed.” As part of the event, other speakers offered their own proposals to improve educational equity. Michael Thomas, the superintendent of the Colorado Springs School District, advocated working with educators to ensure that they believe that each student has intrinsic and equal worth. “We repeatedly wash off guilt, masked in these capitalist ideals that it’s okay, there will always be a socially accepted ‘lower class’, ” he said. “If you fall into that category, we can accept it because that is capitalism at stake. That’s a challenge that comes into our classrooms too – those same ideals. “Alan Page, a retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, proposed enshrining the child’s right to a quality education in state constitutions. Myra Jones-Taylor, Policy Director for Zero to Three, a nonprofit organization focused on early childhood development, advocated for more predictable work schedules for parents and widespread paid family leave so babies could have access to “care and predictable receptive routines, ”that help them thrive. “If you don’t have family financial security and you don’t focus on the needs of babies, all of these things that we’re talking about for educational success later on will be undermined,” Jones-Taylor said. Finally, Takeru “TK” Nagayoshi, the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, offered Fed governors and other panelists his perspective on the best ways to improve educational outcomes. He shared how at the beginning of the pandemic, many of his advanced level English learners were not attending his remote classes because they had to care for their younger siblings, present themselves as essential workers, did not have access to reliable internet, were dealing with their parents. Recent job losses and other circumstances. Nagayoshi, like many of the other speakers, agreed that improving racial equity in schools would require increasing the proportion of teachers of color. “People of color, on average, are more likely to have student debt and experience financial difficulties,” Nagaoyshi said. “There is a legitimate financial incentive to seek employment elsewhere, even if your heart is to serve your own community.” “This is going to sound a little haughty, but here’s a teacher-centric solution: Pay us more,” Nagaoyshi said.