Among other things, this blog highlights how federal, state and local policies systematically work to reinforce the racial wealth gap by, for example, using the tax code to redistribute the nation’s wealth to billionaire developers and keeping low-income people of color in a perpetual cycle of debt through fines and fees to fund local governments. Opportunity zones and the top-heavy 2017 tax law are emblematic of a long history of policymaking that advantages wealthy white families.
In early April, a diverse but mostly black crowd took to the streets in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington D.C. to protest T-Mobile’s decision to order Metro PCS to cease playing gogo music. This tale is a shining example of why economic investment—especially taxpayer-incentivized investment—in underserved communities is fraught with controversy. Who ultimately benefits after developers pour millions of dollars into these communities? And, as this controversy reveals, are the usually black and brown denizens of these neighborhoods and businesses that may have catered to them no longer welcome once economic development reaches a critical mass?