The Curb-Cut Effect (Part 1)

with Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink

National General Interest

The American demographic is shifting to a nation where the majority will be people of color. While the population share is on the rise, gaps in education, wealth and more, still exist. How could equity benefit all of our society? Part 1 of a discussion with Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink.  This discussion continues in part 2 (The Curb-Cut Effect).

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See a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: In only three years, the year 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that children of color will make up the majority of America´s youth. However, despite these gains in population share, gaps in employment, education, and health care continue to expand. Hello everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I´m Robert. Joining me is Angela Glover Blackwell, she´s the C.E.O. of PolicyLink. Angela, welcome to the program.

Blackwell: Thank you, Robert.

Traynham: Change is coming. We know that this country is changing, with respect to its next American chapter, as I like to call it. And what I mean by that, as I mentioned a few moments ago, is that people that look like you and I, and others, will make up a majority in this country. Change is hard. Some people do not embrace change as quickly as others. Your response to that, Angela, in terms of where the country is going demographically and ethically.

Blackwell: Change is exciting, and this is a great change for the United States of America. What´s happening is, is we´re rapidly becoming a nation in which the majority will be of color. All of the things that the nation will need are happening naturally. For example, we´ll remain a young country. The median age for people who are white is 43. It´s 33 for people who are black. It´s 28 for Latinos. It means that we remain young with lots of children, as other countries are ringing their hands over the fact that they´re aging so fast. People of color are very entrepreneurial. People who are Asian, Latino, African American, are three times as likely to start businesses. So it means that our entrepreneurial life will remain strong. It´s a good thing, it´s an exciting thing. A lot of people think that this is something scary, but it´s not. It´s actually a gift to this nation, that the very things that it will need to maintain a stable middle class are coming with the demographic shift.

Traynham: You know what´s really interesting? I remember in high school history class, we heard the terminology “the melting pot.” We heard the terminology of all these different ethnicities coming together to represent the American story. And it´s reflected in our democratic system in the building right behind us. So to feel your enthusiasm and to hear your enthusiasm is heartwarming in so many different ways. You also write in a pretty groundbreaking report, and I´m quoting you.

Blackwell: That´s right.

Traynham: Expand on that.

Blackwell: The notion is that when we solve problems from the standpoint of those people who are most vulnerable, everybody benefits. The classic example is the curb cut. You see it in streets all across this country. They´re there because of the advocacy of people with disabilities in wheelchairs. But the truth of the matter is, people pushing strollers, workers pushing carts, pulling wagons, people traveling, parents worried about their young bike riders not riding in the street, all benefit because of those curb cuts.

Traynham: What you´re referring to is the A.D.A. piece of legislation, Americans With Disabilities Act, that President George H.W. Bush signed into law. And that curb cut, if you will, is what Angela´s referring to.

Blackwell: That´s right.

Traynham: And what about that 85-year-old senior citizen who perhaps maybe had a knee replacement, but cannot maybe step up on that step, that curb cut also helps that person, as well.

Blackwell: That´s right.You solve a problem for one group,authentically, effectively,and everybody benefits. It´s the same thing investing in people of color.