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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Shackleford: 40 acres and a mule

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According to the Harvard Gazette, the net wealth of a Black family in America is one-tenth that of a white family. After failed attempts at raising the income of Black families, African Americans still battle with large wealth, education, health and other gaps in this country.

It is integral to know that despite common misconceptions, not every slave received their promised share of wealth antebellum. Instead, Black farmers were faced with agriculture taxes and entire Black cities were burned to prevent progress of the race.

We are 100 years removed from the Tulsa race riot, but we have yet to recover. Rosewood, Florida; Colfax, Louisiana; Elaine, Arkansas; and more than 40 other Black cities in America faced massacre and race riots. Soon after, race riots encouraged the Great Migration of African Americans across the country, Jim Crow laws and other Black codes created barriers that prevented Black and minority families from creating generational wealth.

Today, although the Black community and other communities of color have contributed culture, intellectual property and overall excellence, the majority of these groups do not reflect the progress. In 2021, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus was able to pass historic legislation that encouraged reformation of our criminal justice system here in Indiana. HEA 1006 was monumental and set a precedent for other legislatures across the nation. It is our hope that this session, as we tackle economic equity across marginalized communities, we are able achieve monumental feats.

Economic equity is more than income inequality; that is just the tip of the iceberg. Women of color are paid significantly less than their white counterparts, and while building families, borrowers of color are burdened with higher interest rates. We are trying to get our community back to work for livable wages — wages that help you pay for adequate health care and day care for our children.

We want to encourage entrepreneurship and help entrepreneurs of color get contracts, access to capital and the tools needed to succeed and grow their businesses. This session, our legislation will encourage creating a safe and inclusive environment for Hoosiers to work, grow and live safely without burden.

It is time that we stand up, collaborate and win. Advocacy does work and HEA 1006 is proof of what coalition building can do. Can we count on you this session to join us again as we strive to get our 40 acres and a mule? Contact our office at IBLC@in.gov and get engaged.

State Rep. Robin Shackleford represents Indiana House District 98, is Indiana Black Legislative Caucus chair, POWER Women Caucus vice chair and Public Health Committee ranking minority member. Contact her at H98@iga.in.gov.

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