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Equity is the Antidote to Inequality

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Angela Glover Blackwell. Photo by Dale Robbins

Equity is the antidote to inequality.

I want to hear these six words in the president’s State of the Union address.

Am I an idealist? Yes, but I’m also a realist, and President Obama is, too. As his inaugural address last month made clear, he understands that growing inequality is the most pressing issue of our time. He reminded us that long ago we could not survive as a nation half free and half slave.

And we cannot survive in the future if so few people have so much and so many have so little.

The President should embrace our changing demographics and tell America that diversity can be our greatest asset, our competitive edge in a world without boundaries. He should articulate a vision for a nation that allows everyone to apply their creativity and talent to building the new economy and leading us on a path to sustained growth.

Then he must translate that vision into a policy agenda driven by equity, fairness, and inclusion and crafted around four broad principles:

Create good jobs that pay family-supporting wage and offer opportunities for advancement, and invest in transportation and infrastructure that connects underrepresented workers to employment.

Build capabilities of our most valuable asset — our people — through investments in job training, robust community colleges and education at all levels.

Remove barriers to full participation in economic and civic life. Comprehensive immigration reform is a good place to start.

Expand opportunities and build on the successful strategies initiated during the first term to create communities of opportunity for all.

Angela Glover Blackwell is the founder and president of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity. A national leader for social justice and equity, Ms. Blackwell seeks to strengthen America by creating stronger low-income communities and communities of color

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