Race, Ethnicity and Disability - Systemic Inequality and Intersectionality Have Financial Impacts

"[T]he most financially vulnerable population in America is the group of individuals that live at the intersection of disability, race and ethnicity. The simultaneous experiences of discrimination and lack of access to economic opportunity, due to racism and ableism*, deserves urgent attention by the financial community, government, faith-based communities, community development organizations and media as leaders begin to design and implement the post-COVID-19 path to economic recovery. As President George H. W. Bush stated in his remarks 30 years ago at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “Together, we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted. For ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper.”"

We can and must to better for our kids - now and into the future. The financial impacts of systemic inequalities are clear, so we need to embrace new ideas such as:

  • The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). For the first time in the 40 years since the law was passed, the rule offers new clarity and coverage of LMI individuals with disabilities.
  • The shift to telecommuting offers new opportunities for businesses of all sizes and sectors to recruit job seekers with disabilities. Many individuals with disabilities have long awaited the workplace flexibility that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced on many workplaces. With the removal of barriers to working at home, individuals with disabilities who face transportation, assistive technology and other obstacles that may be more easily addressed in a home office, are better positioned to secure employment that matches their experience, talents and abilities. Reaching this talent pool requires that employers consider new partnerships with disability-related organizations, the public workforce development system, including vocational rehabilitation (VR) and disability employment service providers at the local and state level.
  • The use of ABLE accounts - an underutilized savings vehicle (available since 2015) that allows an eligible individual with a disability to save for qualified disability expenses while maintaining eligibility for critically needed public benefits, such as Medicaid and/or Supplemental Security Income (a Social Security Disability benefit for eligible individuals with limited income and assets).

*Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. It rests on the assumption that people with disabilities require ‘fixing.” Like racism and sexism, ableism classifies entire groups of people as ‘less than,’ and includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions and generalizations of people with disabilities. https://www.accessliving.org/newsroom/blog/ableism-101/

See: https://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/race-ethnicity-and-disability-financial-impact-final_accessible.pdf

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